In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew’s wrath experienced by countless people from Florida to the northern border of North Carolina, the wire service in South Carolina is abuzz with some very interesting news items. One report involves being kind to animals and the other a revelation that makes United States history come alive again.
Although Hurricane Matthew’s aftermath included the tragic fatality of an estimated 150 individuals, one cat owes its life to the kindness of mankind. In the area of Nichols, South Carolina, a picture of a feline taken by a local citizen has gone viral. The story involves a black and white cat named Boots who was rescued from its perch atop the roof of an almost submerged automobile. To accomplish this feat, a rescuer waded waist-deep into surging water.
United States history came alive again along the shoreline at Folly Beach where cannonballs were discovered to be resting in the sand. The site was visited by an investigative team comprising a Charleston County sheriff, local bomb squad technicians and United States Air Force experts and historians. According to Folly Beach Mayor Richard Beck, 16 cannonballs were found one of which was observed to have an empty fuse hole exposed. South Carolina’s Director of Public Safety maintains that they are actually spherical shells because of the amount of rust coating and evidence of having undergone the process of fusion. Citizens of the surrounding area were cautioned by the U.S. Air Force Explosive Ordinance Team not to panic if they heard explosive sounds while the cannonballs are en route to a nearby Naval Base for further evaluation.
According to local historians, this type of ammunition was used in 1863 during a Civil War battle that occurred at Fort Wagner. Ironically, the area where the cannonballs were discovered was a filming site for the 1989 movie “Glory.”
The destructive force of Hurricane Andrew has helped to uncover a small piece of South Carolina history. A group of rustedcannonballs used during the Civil War were discovered by Richard Beck, the former mayor of Folly Beach. Rust had combined the 15 cannonballs into one large mass. He found them as he was checking out the beach near his home for damage caused by the hurricane. Beck was not sure what the rusted pile of metal was when he first saw it. He took the cautious approach and called the cops to figure out exactly what it was. As luck would have it, one of the cops who arrived at the scene had spent many years being an actor in reenactments of the Civil War. He was able to identity the cannonballs immediately.
South Carolina played a very major role in the Civil War. In fact, the war officially started in 1861 at Fort Sumter located in Charleston, South Carolina. Therefore, it is not surprising at all that undetonated ordinance was found in the state. It was necessary for the bomb squad of the local police department to detonate some of the cannonballs because they were considered to be unsafe. However, several of the cannonballs were taken to the local naval base where they will be studied to gain further information about them. Experts hope to find out the company that produced them.
The area of the beach where the cannonballs were found is now being excavated in the hopes of finding other items related to the Civil War. Several of the most experienced archaeologists in the region have volunteered to be a part of the project. Experts think that the area could be filled with valuable Civil War artifacts that are of great historical significance. It remains to be seen if that is actually the case. The project is scheduled to last for at least one month. However, it could be extended if any artifacts are found. Any metal objects that are uncovered will most likely be covered in rust because of the site’s close proximity to water.
In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, numerous events across South Carolina have been postponed or cancelled due to flooding and damage. Two popular events, however, are going forward.
Georgetown’s Wooden Boat show will go on as scheduled October 15th and 16th. A tradition for 27 years, the event celebrates the city’s maritime heritage. More than 125 boats will be on display in the Sampit River and along Front Street. Along with model boat building and arts and crafts, there will be the Wooden Boat Challenge on the 15th where teams of two build a racing skiff and test its seaworthiness. A cardboard boat race is also scheduled for 16th, but the Opti Pram Regatta for children had to be cancelled due to safety concerns.
Another event that is returning after its interruption by Hurricane Matthew is the Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch. Located just outside Charleston, the pumpkin patch was shut down in advance of the hurricane’s arrival. It is now re-opened and ready for business. Along with being able to pick your own pumpkin, visitors can have fun with hayrides, the corn hole toss, the spider web, hay mountain, the goat walk and rabbit enclosure, and the always popular corn maze. The Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch is located on the grounds of the Boone Hall Plantation off Highway 17. Admission to the event is $10 per person. The Pumpkin Patch is open daily through October 31st 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
South Carolina’s experience with Hurricane Matthew was brutal, with post-hurricane flooding causing more damage than the storm itself. As people lose power, roadways, homes and business, it might be heartening to note that there are items that neither war, nor weather can destroy. Those items are Civil War cannonballs.
Folly Island, off the South Carolina coast, housed 11,000 Union soldiers during the Civil War. Those soldiers must have been in a hurry to get home, because they failed to properly dispose of their cannon fuel. Fast forward about 125 years and Hurricane Matthew’s winds and water pulled back enough beach to reveal roughly 15 cannonballs lying on the beach. Richard Beck, former mayor of Folly Beach, found the cannon balls. It might be worth mentioning that Beck has excellent observation skills. The cannon balls were rusted together in an ocher heap and are barely recognizable as cannonballs. A less than observant beach comber might have come dangerously close. It’s important to remember that unexploded ordnance, no matter how old, can still be dangerous.
The misshapen rusting hulks on Folly Beach were still live. The Charleston County sheriff’s office dispatched their bomb team who detonated the ordnance. Residents heard the explosions but there was little cause for alarm. This wasn’t the first time hurricane winds and water erosion pulled back the beach. When Hurricane Hugo visited Folly Island, it had uncovered a slew of artifacts that Union soldiers had left behind.
When soldiers don’t clean up after a war, it looks like nature and a bomb squad will.