Sunday, October 25, 2015

Dumped by Sherman? Utility soon to resume removing 'metallic' objects from S.C. river

Burning of Columbia, Feb. 1865 (William Waud, Library of Congress)

Historic flooding earlier this month in Columbia, South Carolina, put a temporary hold on the removal of objects from a river where Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman is believed to have dumped captured munitions.
 
“Prior to the flooding, we did work on removing the metallic objects for several days,” said Ginny Jones, senior public affairs specialist for SCANA, parent company of utility SCE&G. “Nothing we found at that time was of historical significance. We plan to resume work on the project on Nov. 2.”

The State newspaper has reported that sonar and metal detection have located where the weapons were likely dumped into the Congaree River near the Gervais Street bridge. But no one is certain the objects are associated with the Civil War.

Sherman, on his way to North Carolina after seizing the South Carolina capital, kept what he wanted of Confederate ordnance and threw the rest into the river in February 1865.

“It is certainly possible that historical objects could still be found; we still just don’t know what’s there until we dig it up,” Jones said in an email to the Civil War Picket.

Gervais Street bridge (NPS)

EOTI, a Tennessee company, has been contracted to help deal with any Civil War-related munitions that are found. “That likely would involve placing a cover over any explosives consultants find, then detonating the material in place,” the newspaper reported, quoting a SCANA official. “The cover would keep the explosion contained to protect the public and the surrounding environment.”

EOTI referred Picket questions to SCANA.

SCE&G is conducting a remediation project in the Congaree River because of the detected presence of tar. It says tests show it to be coal tar created by manufactured gas plants that operated throughout Columbia more than century ago.

The State, in a preview of this phase of the work, said workers will go through soil in the river and remove 74 objects.

Officials previously told the newspaper that any recovered cannonballs, scabbards, sabers or cartridges will likely be housed at the S.C. Confederate Relic Room.

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