Saturday, May 17, 2008

This reenacting stuff could get real dramatic. Real REAL, I guess.

I found this recently on the web. The headline was, "The U.S. Civil War continues to kill".

Sam White, a Virginia based collector of Civil War munitions, died recently while cleaning up a nine inch, 75 pound, cannon ball. White had previously restored or examined over 1,500 of these shells. But the one that killed him was different. It was fired from a ship board gun, and was designed to be more waterproof than shells used by land based artillery. This kept the fuse, and black powder explosive charge, dry and viable after 150 years. Mister White was using metal tools to clean up the shell, which apparently set off the fuse, and detonated the shell more than 150 years after it was fired off the Virginia coast.

There are still thousands of Civil War era shells buried, or sitting on the bottom off the coast. But a far more dangerous threat are unexploded munitions from more recent wars, especially the two World Wars. Over a thousand bombs, hand grenades, mines and shells from these conflicts are uncovered each year in Europe alone. Still more are unearthed in Asia and North Africa. People continue to die from the World Wars, and will for decades to come.

I asked my buddy Dave Waters about this. He's a Civil War reenactor, and as you can see from this picture, he has a Civil War cannon ball, with the fuse in tact. That's not him in the picture. That's Kevin Wilson (no relation), who's also stuck in the 19th century. Not really, but you'd think it if you ever went to a Civil War museum with these guys.

Dave said that what kills folks, and it happens now and then, is the hydrogen gas that builds up in the cannon ball from the break down and corrosion of the old black powder in the old bombs. It's not the fuse or the old powder. It's the gas, set off by collectors using tools to open these old munitions, setting off sparks that ignite them. I take him at his word. he knows his shit.

So, don't go diggin' and chippin' away at old shells. You heard it here. later.


Sarge Charlie said...

I love when I learn stuff, I was on Okinawa in 67 and we had a high school kid killed playing with an old hand grenade. They were still picking up 40-50 tons of WWII unexploded each year, this is amazing stuff.

Mushy said...

Yeah, I read that story and sent it to Steve...can't remember if I passed it to you or not. However, I know Steve has crap that could at least blow a hand off!

phlegmfatale said...

the shit just got real!
You buys your ticket...