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Cannonball, perhaps from 1813, detonated by state bomb squad


The Maryland fire marshal's bomb squad detonated a cannonball in Bel Air on Wednesday that may date from the War of 1812.

The detonation occurred after Gertrude Depkin, chairwoman of the artifacts committee for the Historical Society of Harford County, learned of a warning from the state fire marshal concerning the potential dangers of old cannonballs.

Mrs. Depkin said she knew the society had an old, rusty, flaking cannonball, about the size of a 10-pin bowling ball, at its headquarters in the old Bel Air post office on Main Street.

"A man brought it to us about 10 to 15 years ago," she said. "He said he found it in the [Chesapeake] Bay in Havre de Grace."

Mrs. Depkin called the Fire Marshal's Office to have the cannonball inspected, "just to be safe," she said.

The fire marshal's bomb squad removed the cannonball to the rear of the Equestrian Center off Tollgate Road, where it was safely detonated, said Allen L. Ward, deputy chief fire marshal for Harford County.

"Despite its deteriorating condition, it was a tough nut to crack," Mr. Ward said. "It took two charges to detonate it."

Mr. Ward said the cannonball probably dates to the spring of 1813, when the British fleet bombarded and destroyed the then-100-year-old town of Havre de Grace in the first instance of warfare on Harford County soil.

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