The South(ern Suburb) Rises Again
Military Relics Dealers are the New Meth Labs
Nearly 150 years after it ended, the American Civil War has most likely claimed its final casually. In mid-February, a loud blast echoed through the city of Chester, VA. Following the concussion, police found Samuel H. White, aged 53, dead in his backyard. Later, they learned that White was a Civil War relic dealer whose inventory included various munitions, including high caliber bullets, cannonballs and even artillery shells. Mr. White was apparently attempting to disarm a Civil War-era shell when it went off. White’s website (currently offline, but archives are available here), stated White had disabled some 500 Civil War rounds for sale “and (I) still have all my fingers (I must be doing something right, knock on wood)!”
The nearby city of Richmond, former capital of the Confederacy, was no stranger to powerful munitions–it was partially destroyed during the last days of the Civil War. In the present, the market for authentic military collectibles remains strong with dealers and auction houses selling everything from uniform hats and pins to field munitions to collectors. There are dealers like White in neighborhoods all over the United States and even abroad, most doing brisk business online.
The surrounding area was evacuated for nearly 2 days, while bomb squad technicians searched for other similar military ordnances. The explosion was apparently so powerful that debris was spread a great distance from Mr. White’s property, with one neighbor reporting a 15-lb. shell coming to rest in his living room…nearly a quarter-mile away.