Civil War era explosives found in Shoals still hazardous 150 years later

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Civil War Explosives Found in Unlikely Place

FLORENCE, Ala. – Police made an alarming find late last week when they were called to a suspicious duffel bag lying on the side of a busy road. Its deadly contents dated back more than 150 years.

Florence Police are unsure where the Civil War era explosive ordnance came from, but they're glad a concerned citizen called them immediately.

Investigators said the duffel bag was found at the intersection of Cox Creek Parkway and Veterans Drive, one of the most heavily traveled roadways in the city.

Inside the bag were seven different explosive devices, three cannonballs which still had their fuses intact, and four projectile type devices. Florence explosive device experts said the fuses had been removed from three of the flying projectiles.

The discovery of unexploded devices didn't shock one local historian.

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Civil War era explosives found in Shoals still hazardous 150 years later
Civil War relics collector Rafael Eledge displays the handle of a sword used in the war on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Savannah, Tenn. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
Old pistols sit on a cabinet top in the showroom of Civil War relics collector Rafael Eledge on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Savannah, Tenn. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
Markings on a Civil War sword owned by Civil War collector Rafael Eledge on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Savannah, Tenn. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
In a Wednesday, March 21, 2012 photo, Civil War relics collector Rafael Eledge holds Union and Confederate belt buckles in his showroom in Savannah, Tenn. Eledge says artifacts connect him with meaningful events and people of the past. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)
Civil War relics collector Rafael Eledge talks about the history of an old war pistol on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 in Savannah, Tenn. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz).
A display case in the home of Civil War Relics collector Sam White, is filled with munitions in Chester, Va., Monday, April 21, 2008. White was killed in February 2008 when a cannonball he was restoring in his driveway exploded. His widow says the collection will go to their son. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Brenda White, widow of Civil War Relics collector Sam White, displays a revolver in front of cases filled with Civil War artifacts in their home in Chester, Va., Monday, April 21, 2008. Sam White was killed in February 2008 when a cannonball he was restoring in his driveway exploded. His wife says the collection will go to their son. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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Although there may have not been any major battles in the Shoals, there was quite a bit of traffic moving through during the war. Robert Steen with the Florence Historical Commission said there was a lot of activity by both Confederate and Union armies.

"Florence was pretty well surrounded many times by various units in order to protect themselves while they were encamped here waiting for orders to go somewhere else," Steen explained.

Florence was a crossroads during the war. Steen said many armies would use the area as a river crossing. While soldiers were in the Shoals, he said they would store ammunition's close to their camps.

So finding live Civil War ordnance 150 years later doesn't really surprise him.

"When they moved into an area, wooded area, they are going to spend the night there, they are going to spend several days, they would dig in, store the ammunition and watch out for any units that were coming in," said Steen.

And sometimes Steen said the units would leave behind ammunition's when they had to make a quick exit.

All seven are being stored in a protective building by the Florence Police Department. They are working with federal experts to determine what to do with the unexploded devices at this time.

Investigators are also researching if a private individual can have possession of the unexploded devices since they are from the Civil War era.

Federal explosives experts will be in Florence later this week to help decide what to do with the live projectiles.

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