Civil War Relics Could Tell Some Tales

When Hurricane Matthew came roaring onto the South Carolina coast, it unearthed some things that hadn’t seen the light of day for 150 years–about a dozen Civil War cannonballs.


The heavily-encrusted antiques were found on a beach on Folly Island near Charleston. Technicians came to make sure they were safe but couldn’t get to them right away because the tide was coming in. When low tide returns, the cannonballs will probably be exploded so they don’t harm anyone. Residents were asked to stay clear of the area.


Folly Island is near Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. The fort was then a Union garrison. Tensions had led to Southerners cutting off its supply lines, and on April 12, 1861, Confederate artillery opened fire on it. Southern civilians watched and cheered, and the fort soon surrendered


A Union attempt to regain Fort Sumter in 1863 led to its bombardment and near destruction. It remained in Southern hands until Sherman marched through the area in 1865, by which time the war was all but over.


Fort Sumter was an old fort when the Civil War started. Named after Revolutionary War general Thomas Sumter, it was built after the War of 1812 to protect Charleston Harbor. Now the fort is part of Sumter National Monument, which includes the original site, a visitors center and Fort Moultrie, part of a series of fortifications built on nearby Sullivan’s Island.


Maybe the cannonballs found on Folly Island are some of the very ones used to bombard Fort Sumter. They’re visitors from a former time and part of our history.