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Cannonball Blues

The city bomb squad reminds residents that Civil War leftovers can still blow you up.

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The Civil War ended 150 years ago, but the Richmond Police Department’s bomb squad wants to remind people that any discarded ordnance they find from the era could still kill them.

The warning sounds quaint -- who just finds an old cannonball lying around? -- but in the former capital of the Confederacy, people do. The bomb squad responds to one or two reports of cannonballs every year, according to Richmond police Lt. Daniel Minton.

The most recent deployment came on Friday after a man digging in his backyard in Church Hill unearthed an intact cannonball. Officers found the ordinance was inert, Minton said.

But police say it’s important to call: Civil War munitions may look old and harmless, but some remain packed with live powder. Sometimes, older gunpowder becomes even more unstable. Case in point: In 2008 a memorabilia collector in Chester was killed after a cannonball he was restoring exploded.

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