U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians from the 55th Ordnance Company destroyed an unexploded round discovered at Gettysburg National Military Park. (Courtesy of 20th CBRNE Command/Army)

An unexploded artillery shell was discovered at Gettysburg National Military Park on Feb. 8, host to one of the bloodiest but most decisive battles of the Civil War.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal soldiers with the Army’s 55th Ordnance Company safely removed and destroyed the device, determined to be a 3-inch Burton case shot, according to an official statement.

“This type of munition was historically used during the Civil War and most likely came from the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863,” Capt. Matthew D. Booker, commander of the 55th Ordnance Company, noted.


Steven Brann, a contract archeologist, found the artillery shell while doing a ground sweep of the Little Round Top area, which is under renovation, CNN reported. The hill saw some of the most intense action between Union and Confederate troops during the three-day 1863 conflict, which ended in a Union victory and marked a key turning point in the Civil War.

After traveling from Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the soldiers carried the 10-pound shell to an alternate location, dug a hole, and placed it there along with C4 explosives to blow it up, Jason Martz, a spokesman for the military park, told CNN.

“We’re never going to know whether the thing was live or not,” Martz told the Washington Post. “And we’re never going to know how that shell got to the point where we found it.”


Though rare, this is not the first time unexploded munitions were recovered from Gettysburg. In August 2022, a 3-inch Hotchkiss shell was found lodged in a historic building being refurbished, the Army statement said.

Antique munitions from various conflicts are still being found across the United States and the world.

In February 2022, archeologists found a 10-pound Civil War shell at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park in Georgia. In December 2022, five construction workers were hospitalized after being exposed to a gas released from striking a World War II-era phosphorous bomb while doing work at Army Garrison Stuttgart, Germany.

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media



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