It is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and in an event connected to the conflict but not part of the formal commemoration, a woman digging in her garden in Richmond discovered a cannonball from the period.
While turning up soil late last month, Sharon Johannas reached about a foot below the surface when she struck something.
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“It was a fistful of very heavy, rusted round iron,” she said.
It had what appeared to be a circular hole for the insertion of a fuse.
She said she had never seen a cannonball before, but a more knowledgeable neighbor assured her that it was one and told her it might be filled with gunpowder.
The Richmond police bomb squad was called Thursday night.
Police spokeswoman Dionne Waugh described the object as a Civil War-era cannonball that weighed about 5 to 10 pounds. She said the bomb squad showed up, secured the scene “and later safely detonated the cannonball.”
It was not clear how the antique munition came to be buried in Johannas’s yard. Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy and was a major source of munitions and weapons for Confederate forces during the 1861-65 war. Fierce battles were fought nearby as Union armies sought to seize the opposing capital.
Johannas said she was unaware, however, of any actual fighting in her neighborhood, near Byrd Park and west of Capitol Square. However, she said she was told that Union troops may have been encamped there for a time.
The discovery did not come as a total surprise to police.
“We get these types of calls for found cannonballs and munitions about four or five times a year,” Waugh said. “While sometimes the relics are harmless, some are just as good and dangerous as they were the day they were made.”