Bluffton, SC is about 30 miles from Savannah:
Bomb squad interrupts Bluffton Christmas gathering over antique shell
BY KATHERINE KOKAL
A Bluffton woman and her family had an unexpected holiday visit from the Bluffton and Beaufort County bomb squad last week after Irene Taylor’s children found a Civil War-era field artillery shell in her garage in Hampton Hall.
Taylor told The Island Packet that while her family was over for the holidays on Dec. 27, she asked her three children to walk around the house and point out any maintenance she should do or pick out any items they wanted to take with them.
When her son got to the garage, she said he came across his father Terry’s “prized procession” — a 10-inch artillery shell he found while out using metal detectors on Civil War battlefields with his buddies nearly 40 years ago in Manassas, Va.
“We have moved 14 times and this thing has gone with us 14 times,” Taylor said of the shell, which they took with them across the country. “But it was always kept in the garage and handled carefully.”
But Taylor’s son was skeptical. He told her they should find out if the shell was live and dangerous.
“I don’t think they had seen it before because it was always tucked away in the garage,” Taylor said of her childrens’ first encounter with the potential explosive.
She said the family went to the Bluffton Police Station on Thursday afternoon to ask about it, but by the time they got back home there were three police cars along their street.
The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad and eventually the Marine EOD team descended on Taylor’s home to investigate the shell.
They warned her that the nine family members and three dogs inside for the holidays may have to evacuate while they inspect the shell.
“I was going to refuse,” Taylor said of evacuating. “But my daughter-in-laws had packed up the kids and were on the sidewalk.”
The Taylor family was on alert for about three hours while bomb squads filed in and out of the house.
Taylor said she wasn’t sure if they could start cooking dinner or if they would be forced to leave.
The Marines ended up taking the shell with them when they left, and the authorities never made the family evacuate.
After the cars left, Taylor said the family did end up cooking dinner for the holidays.
Taylor said she received a “nice note” from the Marines a few days later saying the team had cleaned the Civil War shell and were planning to feature it in a museum. The Marines have dated the shell to the early 1860s — the years of the Battles of Manassas.
“As long as they give (Terry) credit,” Taylor said of her husband’s prized procession being moved from the garage to a museum.