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Petersburg plans cannon explosions at Battlefield park


If you're in Petersburg at the crack of dawn Wednesday, you might be waking up to a barrage of loud explosions. The city is planning a Civil War reenactment, complete with cannon explosions, at Petersburg National Battlefield park. It's the 150th anniversary of the Battle of the Crater. Civil War cannons and modern day weapons from Fort Lee will be firing off, to commemorate the legendary fight between Union and Confederate soldiers.

"They are going to be firing off Civil War cannons. Fort Lee soldiers will be on the property firing howitzers...  and it will be very loud," said Martha Burton, director of Petersburg Area Regional Tourism.

Cannons will be blasting starting at 5:45 a.m.. That's when Union soldiers blew up an underground tunnel in 1864, aimed at sabotaging the Confederates. The blast left a huge crater, still visible today.

"There was so much smoke (after the explosion), you couldn't see, and hundreds of Union soldiers ran right into the crater. And they died. It ended up a terrible blow to the Union effort," continued Burton.

The sound from the cannons and Fort Lee weapons could travel for miles. So don't be surprised if booms are heard in areas rather far away from the park.

"It'll just be like a movie playing next door," said Jim Durham, who lives in the area with his family.

July 30th is the official anniversary of the Battle of the Crater. However, a full-scale reenactment will happen at Battlefield Park on Saturday, August 2. No visitor parking will be allowed in the park. Instead, a free shuttle bus will take visitors to and from the Eastern Front Unit. Shuttle buses will depart from the Farmer's Market at 9 Old Street in Petersburg.

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