The Civil War nearly claimed another casualty after an archaeologist discovered a live artillery round buried under a foot of dirt at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Park employees shut down roads and cleared the area around the 7-inch-tall shell, which park spokesman Jason Martz said “could have easily killed a dozen people,” according to Pennlive.com.
The archeologist — identified by Stars and Stripes as Steven Brann — made the shock discovery last Wednesday while sweeping the grounds ahead of a work crew that planned to rehabilitate a famous area of the battlefield known as Little Round Top.
Brann started to dig around after his metal detector registered a hit, Martz said. Soon, he unearthed an intact, still-live 10-pound artillery shell that likely dates back to the 1863 battle that claimed about 51,000 casualties over three days of fighting.
The spokesman called it “an extremely rare find,” and could not say the last time such a thing was uncovered on the field.
Brann “laid it gently on the ground, took a picture of it and ran for the hills,” Martz told CNN.
Park rangers called in members of the US Army’s 55th Ordnance Company, who traveled 92 miles from their Fort Belvoir, Va., headquarters to remove the shell, according to an Army press release.
They brought the shell to a local disposal area and blew it up, the release said. The park’s roads reopened after officials determined the area was safe.
Booker said the company responds to about 50 calls per year to remove unexploded ordnance. It last went to Gettysburg in August 2022, when another artillery shell was found lodged in a historic building that was being refurbished.
Finding antique munitions in unexpected places continues to be a problem, especially overseas, according to Stars and Stripes.
In February 2022, archeologists found a 10-pound Civil War shell near the Kennesaw Mountain battlefield in Georgia. And about 2,000 tons of unexploded bombs are found each year in Germany – a result of countless bombing raids by Allied forces during World War II.