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

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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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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