MOORE COUNTY, NC — Kolton Decker, a 9-year-old North Carolina boy, expected that a father-and-son fishing trip — and the chance to try out a new magnetic fishing set he got for Christmas — would be a blast.
It almost was.
Fifteen minutes into their excursion, Kolton felt a tug on the magnet and began bringing in his catch.
It wasn’t a largemouth bass, catfish, crappie or any of the other species of fish swimming in the Little River in Moore County.
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It was a live grenade. The pin had been pulled. It could have exploded.
“Once I pulled it out of there I was like, ‘Hey Dad, I think I found a grenade,’ ” Kolton told news station WNCN.
Drew Dobbs, a bomb expert at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg, told WNCN he can’t explain how the grenade ended up in the river, but anyone holding it when it exploded would have been killed. The grenade was detonated in the woods, and left a large crater.
Last year, a couple combing Kure Beach, about 15 miles from Wilmington, for seashells and shark teeth found a 30-pound Union Army Parrott Round, one of the most common munitions used during the Civil War. It looked like a large bullet, the couple told reporters, and was still live, full of black powder and could have exploded at any time.
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Kure Beach is located near Fort Fisher, the site of the largest land and water battle during the Civil War. Fort Fisher was the Confederacy’s last coastal stronghold when the Union captured it in January 1865. It had prevented Union blockade vessels from entering and departing Wilmington, the South’s last open seaport on the Atlantic coast, and cutting the supply line to inland Confederate soldiers. After Fort Fisher fell, the Union was able to attack Wilmington and put an end to Confederate trade, according to the American Battlefield Trust.
Col. William Lamb, the commanding officer at Fort Fisher, recounted that the Union’s floating fortresses “rained shells down on Fort Fisher, causing the very earth to tremble.” Lamb recalled the Union’s “relentless bombardment” on Fort Fisher began on the night of Jan. 12, 1865, and continued over the following two days. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered less than three months later.
One theory is the Civil War ordnance they found was from that battle.
A bomb squad from the Hanover County Sheriff’s Department carted it away to discharge it — a task that can be either simple or dangerously difficult. In this instance, authorities had to take it apart — and the couple planned to reassemble it and donate it to the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Underwater Archaeology Branch.