Artifacts from Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s Southern campaign shed light on the end of the Civil War
In a remarkable discovery, hundreds of Civil War relics have been unearthed during the cleanup of the Congaree River in South Carolina. These artifacts provide tangible evidence of Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s ruthless Southern campaign towards the end of the Civil War. The relics, including cannonballs, a sword blade, and a wagon wheel, offer a glimpse into the historical events that unfolded during this tumultuous period. The artifacts are expected to find a new home at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, preserving their significance for future generations.
Uncovering the Past
During the cleanup of the Congaree River, crews made an astonishing discovery as they removed tar-like material from the riverbed. Among the remnants were cannonballs, a sword blade, and a wagon wheel believed to have belonged to a wagon that exploded during the two days of supply dumps. The unearthing of these artifacts provides a tangible link to the events that took place during Union Gen. Sherman’s campaign.
A Remarkable Find
The discovery of the wagon wheel is particularly noteworthy, as the odds of finding such an artifact were considered slim. Sean Norris, the archaeological program manager at TRC, described the find as “crazy.” These relics bring the historical narrative to life, allowing us to move beyond the written records and witness the physical remnants of the past.
Preserving the Relics
While one unexploded munition was safely demilitarized at Shaw Air Force Base, the remaining artifacts will undergo a meticulous conservation process. The corroded metal relics will be treated using an electrochemical process to prevent further deterioration. Additionally, they will be measured, identified, and prepared for eventual display. Although it may take a couple of years, these artifacts will be showcased at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.
A Costly Cleanup
The cleanup of the Congaree River has been a challenging and costly endeavor. Dominion Energy crews have been working diligently to remove toxic tar from the riverbed since its discovery in 2010. To ensure the safety of the workers, armor-plated excavators were employed as a precaution against potential explosives. The completion of this $20 million project was celebrated by state and local officials, marking a significant step towards the preservation of history.
Learning from History
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster emphasized the importance of preserving these artifacts for future generations. He highlighted that stories from the past can often seem distant and disconnected, but when we have physical artifacts in our hands, we are reminded of the significance of our history. The relics provide an opportunity for current generations to learn from the past and appreciate the progress and fortune we enjoy today.
The unearthing of Civil War relics from the Congaree River in South Carolina offers a unique glimpse into the events that unfolded during Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s Southern campaign. The discovery of cannonballs, a sword blade, and a wagon wheel provides tangible evidence of the past, allowing us to move beyond written records and experience history firsthand. The preservation of these artifacts at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum ensures that future generations can learn from the lessons of the past. As we reflect on these relics, we are reminded of the significance of our history and the progress we have made as a state and a nation.