Police guard Siege Museum in Petersburg after live Civil War era ammunition found

Siege Museum in Petersburg (Source: NBC12)
Siege Museum in Petersburg (Source: NBC12)
Published: Mar. 21, 2017 at 10:37 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2017 at 11:16 PM EDT
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Source: NBC12
Source: NBC12

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Police will be guarding the historic Siege Museum in Petersburg overnight after the discovery of three Civil War cannon rounds that after all these years - may still be live.

State Police left the museum Tuesday night after calling in bomb crews to investigate the artillery.

"It looked like something out of the ordinary," Mia Jones said as she stumbled across the police scene.

State Police got the call Tuesday evening after the Petersburg Preservation Task Force was inspecting the basement of the Siege Museum and noticed three cannon rounds that appeared to be still live.

"Remember, they're 150 years old. When they degrade, they either degrade into nothing or they degrade and become more powerful than they were before," said H. Edward Mann.

That's why they took this so seriously.

"It could knock out windows. You would not want to be an individual holding one of these things because it could knock you out," Mann said.

Petersburg Fire crews were called to the scene as State Police went inside. Spectators left in awe over what they were seeing.

"It's incredibly amazing to think that we're talking about almost 200 years, and we've got something that's possibly live in this lovely city," said Barbara Pilarcik.

After examining the cannons, x-rays confirmed what museum officials suspected - that the artillery is likely live.

"If you find one, you got to destroy it," Mann added.

Bomb explosion teams are expected to remove the ammunition sometime Wednesday.

"Pretty amazing it never was found before," Pilarcik said.

This all happened as the task force was working to get the museum back open again. They're hoping to get permission from the city to have the museum open again within two months.

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