Civil War Cannon Balls

They are not bowling balls

civlwarcannonballs Cannon Balls were used in the American Civil War as field artillery. These cast iron balls full of explosive powder were used by the Union and Confederate side, both by infantry and Calvary soldiers. Somehow, they still keep showing up in the yards and properties of people who live in the former war zone. Some of those yards bear the remnants of the battle, with the earth being blemished by the long-ago conflict. Back yard digging expeditions and other common homesteader experiences often result in people finding these curious devices on their property. Some of these same people find buttons from Confederate or Union soldier uniforms, others find other non-hazardous remnants of that era. Perhaps there should be a rule book for how to handle a cannon ball when you discover one in your yard, because the average person doesn’t know. This lack of knowledge has produced an array of outcomes. It’s also unlikely that real estate professionals can verify that a property was not a former battle ground, so these projectile devices could unearth for a long time to come.

He Almost Didn’t Make It

If you come across a cannonball, it’s best not to tamper it. Calling the police so they can send a bomb squad capable to handling it will be the best bet. However, a man in Durham didn’t know this when he found one in the backyard of his Main Street home. If sheriff’s deputies had to have specialized knowledge to detonate the device, he sure was not equipped to take their place because he was not a Hazardous Devices Unit member. Apparently that’s what it takes to detonate such a device. In fact, he later discovered that if he’d kept hammering it, pounding it a few more times than he did; it could have done what it was designed to do during the American Civil War. It seems like the main weight of these cannon balls comes from the deadly powder inside. More information can be read at

A Tragic Outcome

Another man was not so lucky. Described as a Civil War raconteur and amateur history buff, Sam White was killed in his Chester, Virginia driveway when a cannonball that he was restoring exploded. This is a man who was often geared up with metal detectors, and if necessary water gear; so he could go treasure hunting, looking for devices like this.


Sometimes these devices are misshapen and battered. In some cases they are a dud. Workers often come upon them when doing construction work. Places like Atlanta, Virginia and other southern states may continue to unearth cannonballs, considering that an estimated 100,000 of them were fired by Union soldiers in the summer of 1964 alone, per an Atlanta area article. Still, the conflict actually raged from 1861-1864. Others speculate that the one found by construction workers in Atlanta could have been a Confederate cannonball that was being transported by railroad and left behind.

Real Working Mini Cannon Available At