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Discussion in 'The Club House' started by gregs887, Aug 31, 2010.
Civil War relics shut down university building - CNN.com
A bomb squad was called to remove...cannon balls??? The stupid does indeed burn...
Umm guys, not all cannonballs are solid. Civil War era cannonballs also had fuses and were filled with black powder. So the bomb squad might not have been such a bad idea after all?
I think troy is on to something here. But would black powder that is 150+ years old still viable? If it was TNT I could see a reason to freak the hell out.
If it stays dry I don't think black powder decays or loses potency so I wouldn't mess with it.
Explosive/frangible cannon balls were fairly common place by the 1860's. "Could" they be viable? Yes. Not very likely though.
I can see why they were concerned, but they called in the bomb squad? "Move every one, we have antiques!" lol
So, are those balls going to get destroyed or what?
There was an experienced Civil War ordnance collector who blew himself up a year or two ago messing with an "inert" CW cannon ball. Turned out to be not so "inert". He was killed.
The man in the post above was an expert restorer and died when a Confederate ball exploded in his lap as he wire brushed it to clean it. It was a naval round so you can imagine. He was a friend of a treasure hunting site I post on and was pretty well known in that particular circle. The War Between The States had many different types of artillery being used including high explosive and incendiary. If sealed in a 2 inch thick iron casing sealed with a 2 inch brass fuse screwed in place you would be surprised how long the contents will remain dry and exactly as deadly as when they were new. Just depends on the condition of the shell when dug or discovered. Rusted doesnt mean ruined.
Still, if it was on display at a University from a relic hunters collection, chances are it has papers saying it was demilled. If not then it needs to be.
In the late 1960s, a civil war ironclad was located in Mobile Bay. Divers brought up the cannon ammo, set it on the dock, and left it. Our EOD unit was sent down. The rounds were placed in revettments, a minature shaped charge placed on each one, and fired. A significant percentage of them had secondary detonations, indicating the powder was still good. That was after soaking in water for over 100 years. Like old men, old ordnance can still be dangerous.
The muzzleloaders used several different rounds, Most commonly shot, shell, and cannister. Cannister is God's own shotgun- lead balls in a thin container. Shot is a solid ball. Shell is a hollow munition, with a bursting charge. Some were quite large- friend found a 13" mortar shell on his property near Petersburg VA (left there by the damnyankees ) That is an explosive round the size of a basketball.
The White House of the Confederacy had used a 4 inch Parrot gun shell (rifled cannon) as a doorstop for years- until someone noted the black dust on the floor behind it. Yep- live shell.
My comment was more to the point that one would think in a university full of "experts" they would have been able to tell if the cannonballs were dangerous far sooner than they did.
There was an article last year written by a guy who was volunteering at a large museum (in Texas, I think). The museum had arms and armor displays and this guy offered to help clean and catalog the items.
He was quite knowledgeable, and asked if anyone had ever checked to verify that none of the ordnance was live, and that none of the firearms or BP were loaded. Everyone just "assumed" they were "safe".
A large part of the museum collection turned out to be live, and loaded. Worse yet, not all the items were legal, or documented.
So, museums may not always know what they have in their displays, let alone their archives.
Maybe it's because we are all gun owners, but I don't think that anyone on this board would ever find some ordinance and assume its safe. Rule #1, its always loaded? Anyway, I'm glad it didn't go off an no one was hurt.
It made me wonder how many of the cool old military guns and bombs in museum displays are still loaded, or armed.