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Cannon fire, loud booms will mark Civil War battle anniversary

PETERSBURG, Va. — Some folks in Central Virginians will once again be in for a rude awakening as part of the 150th anniversary of an important Civil War battle.

In fact, if you’re asleep anywhere near the Petersburg National Battlefield at 5:44 a.m. on Wednesday, you will likely hear explosions caused by cannon fire.

“It will be loud,” Petersburg National Battlefield Chief of Interpretation Chris Bryce said.

Neighbors CBS 6 talked to said they are not concerned about the early morning display since it will be historically accurate and pays tribute to the area’s heritage.

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The Battle of the Crater began 150 years ago when Union soldiers detonated 8,000 pounds of black powder under Confederate lines using a 511-foot long tunnel.

The explosion killed nearly 300, but did not produce the results wanted by Union officers. After fighting all day, there were more than 5,000 casualties, and the chance to gain higher ground looking over Petersburg was lost.

The timing of the cannon fire will be symbolic.

“The firing of the gun will symbolize the explosion of the mine, that detonation of the mine at 5:44 a.m. And then, with the assistance of the Ordnance Corps at Fort Lee, they will be bringing in some Howitzers from the base to replicate the Union bombardment that followed the explosion,” Bryce said.

The Battle of the Crater is unique in part of Petersburg’s Civil War history.

As part of the anniversary, the US Postal Service will unveil the new 150th Anniversary commemorative stamp Wednesday at 10 a.m. The stamp pays tribute to the role of United States Colored Troops during the Siege of Petersburg.

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Additionally, special programs will be offered across Petersburg National Battlefield, including cannon and small arms demonstrations, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It is important to note that no visitor parking will be allowed in the park due to the large numbers of people expected on Saturday, Aug. 2nd.

As a result, a free shuttle service will be available from the Farmers Market (9 Old Street) in Petersburg.

 

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