In a significant historical discovery, hundreds of Civil War relics were unearthed during the cleanup of the Congaree River in Columbia, South Carolina. This cleanup, a $20 million project, led to the recovery of artifacts that were dumped by Union troops during General William T. Sherman’s notorious Southern campaign.
The relics, including cannonballs, a sword blade, and a wagon wheel believed to be from a blown-up supply wagon, offer new insights into the Civil War era. The discovery of these items, particularly the wagon wheel, was described as “crazy” by Sean Norris, the archaeological program manager at TRC, an environmental consulting firm. These artifacts not only enrich the historical narrative but also corroborate written records of the events.
One of the unexploded munitions found was demilitarized at Shaw Air Force Base. However, the remaining artifacts won’t be displayed immediately. They require an electrochemical process for conservation due to corrosion, along with thorough measurement and identification.
The cleanup operation, led by Dominion Energy crews, was initiated to remove toxic tar discovered in 2010. The project involved extensive precautions, including the use of armor-plated excavators, to mitigate the risk of encountering explosives.
South Carolina’s Governor, Henry McMaster, emphasized the importance of such discoveries for understanding history. He noted that artifacts like these, which were once in the hands of people from the past, help modern generations connect with history and appreciate the progress made.
The relics are expected to be housed at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia. This museum will provide a safe home for these artifacts, allowing the public to engage with a tangible piece of American history. The discovery underscores the ongoing relevance of the Civil War in American culture and the importance of preserving historical artifacts for future generations.