A Sharpsburg man planting trees at his Powell Road home Thursday unearthed a live Civil War-era shell that authorities later disposed of by setting it off at a neighboring farm.
“When I saw it I knew what it was,” J.D. Taylor Jr. said. “It was the second one I found here.
“It was some kind of experience.”
Taylor said he at first thought he hit a rock with his steel shovel while digging in his yard about a mile from Antietam National Battlefield sometime between 8:30 to 9 a.m.
He pushed the shovel under the object, which was five or six inches deep, and knelt to pry it out.
The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office said in a news release that the object was a 3-inch Federal Navy Schenkl that had not been fired and had an intact fusing mechanism.
Taylor said it weighed about eight pounds, was about nine inches long and had a spring-loaded detonator on the end.
“It looked like a torpedo without the fins,” he said.
Taylor said he wasn’t afraid to handle it.
“I said, ‘Oh my Lord, there’s another one,’” he said.
He had prior experience with another one found 30 years earlier and about 12 to 13 feet away.
Taylor said a contractor working to build his home in 1983 found one just like it while digging on the site.
He said he left the first one at a tree in the woods and it eventually disappeared. He thinks it was probably taken by Civil War artifact hunters.
After finding the second shell on Thursday, Taylor called the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, which requested bomb technicians from the state fire marshal.
Those technicians were joined at Taylor's home by U.S. Army bomb technicians from Fort Belvoir, Va. Fire and emergency medical service personnel from Sharpsburg stood by, according to the fire marshal’s news release. Taylor said Maryland State Police were also at the scene.
Authorities using computers in their vehicles researched the device and determined it had been used by both the Union army and navy during the Civil War, according to Taylor.
The technicians took the shell to the neighboring farm and detonated it, he said.
“It made a decent boom,” Taylor said.
No one was hurt.
The on-site research showed that had the shell been inert, it would have been worth about $600 to a collector, Taylor said.