A 100-plus-year-old cannonball that was found at a Liberty County landfill and taken to a home in the Pine Ridge subdivision safely was removed by Fort Stewart’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal team Wednesday afternoon, Liberty County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Hodges said.
Hodges said a young man in his late teens or early 20s found the cannonball as he was taking a load of trash to the dump at the JV Landfill off Highway 196 near Gum Branch. He said the young man found the cannonball in a Dumpster that was marked for “household items.” Law-enforcement officers who later searched the dump said the Dumpster mostly was filled with yard waste, which led Hodges to believe the cannonball inadvertently may have been picked up with a front-loader by someone hired to clear out an old house or yard. The ball was taken to 1277 Baxter St., where the young man and his father decided to check the Internet to see what it might be worth. The father told Hodges he learned it was worth about $400.
Hodges said his agency got the call around 2:30 p.m. and didn’t leave the emergency site until after 7:30 p.m. The EMA was supported by the Hinesville Police Department, Hinesville Fire Department and Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. Because the cannonball appeared to still contain a fuse, the homes on Baxter Street were evacuated, he said, and it was blocked off. When the EOD team arrived, they determined the fuse still was intact and the ball was filled with explosives and shrapnel.
“It was still loaded with powder and still had a fuse,” Hodges said. “We took it to the old airport area off Airport Road. They buried it then exploded it using C-4. There was no shrapnel because they had buried it deep enough to prevent that. The EOD guys said the black powder also exploded with the C-4. There were no traces left of the ball itself.”
He said the only markings on the cannonball were “101B,” which was stamped into the metal ball. Hodges doesn’t know how the father supposedly determined the cannonball was dated to the Mexican Revolution, which took place from 1910-1917, or whether it came from the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) or American Civil War (1861-1865).
Larry Logan, Liberty County EMA assistant director, described the cannonball as rusty and weighing as much as 16 pounds, perhaps a little bigger than a soccer ball. He said as of Wednesday evening, the young man who found the cannonball and brought it to the residential area had not been charged with anything. On Thursday, HPD Lt. Terry Smith confirmed that no charges had been filed.
Hodges said investigating officers removed the Dumpster from the landfill where it could be searched in a safer area. Law-enforcement personnel also searched the dump itself for other cannonballs or explosive devices. Both the Dumpster and dump were found to be clear of other military-related objects. He said the landfill and the Pine Ridge subdivision were cleared by Wednesday evening.
“Everything worked out well overall,” said Hodges, who headed up the emergency situation. “We were extremely proud of how well all the law-enforcement agencies and first responders worked together.”
Hodges said he also was grateful the cannonball was safely exploded without anyone getting hurt.