Decatur man digs up Civil War cannonball

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A Decatur man's discovery of a piece of history turned into an emergency evacuation, as the DeKalb County Police bomb squad cleared people away from a Civil War cannonball.

Homeowner Randy Lane had called Decatur Police to investigate a strange object he found in his yard, but didn't think it would create quite a scare.

"I wasn't sure if it was a bowling ball, or a shotput," said Randy Lane, who dug up the metal ball from the ground and put it on a work bench. "What if it is a Civil War cannonball, and alive?"

Lane said he couldn't get friends to come check it out, so he called Decatur Police; police then called out the bomb squad, which had members of the FBI Terrorism Task Force.

"I thought, 'I hope they're not going to be here all day,'" Lane said, and who told FOX 5 he refused to leave his house when authorities tried to evacuate him.

Officials with the bomb squad told FOX 5, they were not sure what the item could be, and would have a military expert assess the ball.

Experts at the Kennestone Mountain National Battlefield Park, when shown photos, believe the item could be a "case shot" cannonball, which has gunpowder inside and is designed to explode. 

"It could be extremely dangerous," said Amanda Corman, park ranger and curator at the Kennestone Mountain National Battlefield Park Museum. "Any kind of shift may cause it to go off. It may not. But it's better to be safe than sorry," Corman said, who tells FOX 5 that a 150-year-old cannonball can be volatile if placed near heat, or moved with the right amount of pressure.

Experts in Georgia tell FOX 5 there are unknown numbers of Civil War relics that can be recovered by residents; while cannonball discoveries are rare, they are not unheard of.

Experts advise for people who discover a cannonball to not touch it, and leave it for authorities to remove or for a relics expert to assess.