Museum Expert Says Cannonball Likely Never Fired, Offloaded as Ballast

Jill and Jim Cochran and Esther Doyle took our cannonball and some other artifacts to the Charleston Museum on Tuesday. Jill writes:

Grahame Long confirmed that we have a Revolutionary War “grape shot” cannon ball, made of cast iron, weighing 1 and 1/2 pounds. A number of balls this size would have been put into a canister which was then loaded into a cannon. The ball was never intended to be loaded with powder but was to be used for close range firing, for example, from ship to ship in order to clear the deck or to break a mast.

Mr. Long’s guess is that when the British ships were sailing past Dewees Island on their way to the fort on Sullivan’s Island in June, 1776, they dropped weight (including these cannon balls) in order to move faster in the water.  While this ball that Esther found was encrusted with some rust, it was in very good condition because of being covered in silt on the ocean floor.


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