One-hundred-and-fifty years later, a live cannonball turned up at Richmond National Battlefield Park as crews were clearing a moat in preparation for an interpretive tour at a Civil War fort.The shell, thought to be a makeshift hand grenade, was discovered within the moat of a Confederate fortification known as Fort Gilmer in the park’s Fort Harrison Battlefield unit. The site was being readied for an interpretive tour of Fort Gilmer on September 29 that would mark the 150th anniversary of the fighting there. The cannonball, still displaying an intact fuse, was safely removed by the County of Henrico Police Bomb Disposal Team and destroyed at the county’s firing range.
Park historians determined that the shell was a 12-pound explosive round, possibly used by Confederates at Fort Gilmer as one of several improvised hand grenades rolled down the side of the fort against Union soldiers from the 7th United States Colored Troops. The USCTs were part of a Union force moving against Fort Gilmer in the latter phases of the Battle of Fort Harrison. Park historians note that the Confederate defensive effort had its desired effect; of the 198 USCTs who began the attack against Fort Gilmer, only one returned safely. The other 197 were killed, wounded, or captured.
(Article courtesy of the General William Barksdale Camp 1220 Sons of Confederate Veterans, Columbus, Mississippi)