Skip to comments.Ancient Cannon Ball Explodes
Posted on 05/05/2008 9:46:50 AM PDT by Abathar
May 5, 2008: The U.S. Civil War continues to kill. Sam White, a Virginia based collector of Civil War munitions, died recently while cleaning up a nine inch, 75 pound, cannon ball. White had previously restored or examined over 1,500 of these shells. But the one that killed him was different. It was fired from a ship board gun, and was designed to be more waterproof than shells used by land based artillery. This kept the fuze, and black powder explosive charge, dry and viable after 150 years. Mister White was using metal tools to clean up the shell, which apparently set off the fuze, and detonated the shell more than 150 years after it was fired off the Virginia coast.
There are still thousands of Civil War era shells buried, or sitting on the bottom off the coast. But a far more dangerous threat are unexploded munitions from more recent wars, especially the two World Wars. Over a thousand bombs, hand grenades, mines and shells from these conflicts are uncovered each year in Europe alone. Still more are unearthed in Asia and North Africa. People continue to die from the World Wars, and will for decades to come.
The silver lining is at least he didn't suffer...
I just hate it when that happens.
Yep, but at least it’s a brief feeling of hate though...
Speaking for myself, I don't know that I'd want to be messing with 150 year old black powder explosives. From all I've read and heard, it takes very little to set it off.
Sam, if he’s a Virginia resident, should be counted as a Confederate casualty.
Good grief, do you know how many history books would have to be reprinted to edit that change???
Sam White to Saint Peter: “What the heck am I doing here?”
Well guess that answers the question of if an old civil war exploding cannon ball would still work after being buried in the Sahara sands in an Iron Clad that escaped from the South and sailed to Africa getting stranded when a river went dry.
“And where are my eyebrows??”
Fun movie, and I guess it does.
Now that you mention it - Will it still explode after being stuck in the arctic ice for 200 years when clutched by a dead sailor with the key to a Mason’s treasure though?
Hmmm might have to test that one. Not sure I want to volunteer though. Don’t like cold weather.
Dixieping for later
Ancient? Hardly so.
What if he was a carpet-bagger, like me?
Cannon Ball !
Coming at Ya’ !
I’m sure he didn’t even know what hit him.
Not to mention with a kidnapped Abraham Lincoln on board, Mr. Cussler.
St. Peter to Sam White: "Durned if I know!"
That was in the book. Those who just saw the movie have no idea what you're talking about.
Then he will have to address his question (Sam White to Saint Peter: What the heck am I doing here?) to Satan.
I know. It’s a test. Those who liked the movie (which I thought was excellent) will love the book.
Just one question.......How does a 150 year old cannonball classify as “ancient?”
This is not correct. The more modern munitions are much harder to set off. The civil war era explosives get more unstable as time goes by.
Heck, when I was in high school, if you were 30 you were ancient.
Don’t think that way anymore.
What movie? I’ve avoided theaters ever since they were changed into uncomfortable little parlors with no leg room and obnoxiously loud noises and scrips that make The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew look like greatly complicated novels.
Antique certainly, but “ancient”?
/petty stylistic quibbling mode
Talk to my teenage daughters, anything or anyone older than 50 is “ancient” to them.
Okay, I give. What movie? I get the reference to National Treasure...
Sahara. Matthew McConaghey, William Macy, Rainn Wilson. With Pennelope Cruz as the love interest. Very, very loosely based on a Clive Cussler novel.
Cussler was a fool to disown that movie. Could have been a great franchise. McConaghey captured the spirit of Dirk Pitt, especially compared to the wooden Richard Jordan performance in RAISE THE TITANIC. I even bought Steve Zahn as Al Giordino after he press-checked that AK-47 he picked up during the oasis fight.
Cussler felt they weren’t taking the story seriously enough. I thought the tongue-in-cheek aspects were perfect. Cussler should read his own books.
I’m currently reading Cussler’s Fire Ice. Good book so far.
Where should I mail this cannon ball I have for you?
They don’t have to stay dry, all they have to do is dry out.
Not if it is Japanese. They used pitric acid which can be far more sensitive than black powder. Then you have the mustard gas rounds from WWI and you have WP which can leak, ignite, and set off the burster. Also, a fuze may still be functional.
If you feel you have one of these at home, bring it over in the light and we will take a look at it for you.
Alexandria, VA Just leave it with the statue facing south on South Washington Street.
Hey, I have kids. The only movies I see in those cramped little theaters are classics like “The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl”.
But I do rent movies to watch on my 50” plasma.
Thanks indcons. Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.
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