Inspired by Last death caused by World War I.

Even as recently as 2013, we still have had casualties from abandoned munition stockpiles and the likes from WW1. I'm wondering if there are any wars from before WW1 which caused recent casualties. As a ridiculous example or 2: a collector who was killed while cleaning their Civil War era rifle which was still loaded; or someone who falls into a trap pit dug during the American Revolution. I'm specifically talking about remnants of past wars which are still out there in the world, like boobytraps or unexploded munitions.

Is the longest period between the start of a war and their most recent casualties really 99 years? or have there been even longer periods?

  • 3
    I'd argue that this could only really be limited to wars which featured explosives. Only because calling a historian who died from tetanus from a Napoleonic era sword a casualty of that conflict is a bit of a stretch, where as someone killed by a delayed explosion from expended ammunition died as a direct consequence of that conflict.
    – Kobunite
    Apr 2 '14 at 16:01
  • @Kobunite The Napoleonic example is indeed a stretch, but I do think that the misfire of a still loaded Civil War era rifle is fairly similar to the delayed explosion. Apr 2 '14 at 16:12
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    I would disagree with the loaded civil war rifle. It's extremely unlikely that a rifle from that long ago had it's original load and much more likely that the collector had loaded the weapon recently and it went off when cleaning. Which, imo, wouldn't qualify. @called2voyage: this article comes to mind: bbc.com/news/world-asia-25772192 Japanese soldier who was still fighting ww2 until 1974
    – NotMe
    Apr 2 '14 at 16:15
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    If we're accepting decades-delayed weapons effects as casualties "caused by" a conflict, why do we not count the political effects? Could we say that the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 helped set the stage for the ethnic cleansing of the 1990s? Or that the 12th century Norman invasions of Ireland set the stage for The Troubles? I'm not clear why we would draw the line to include inanimate weapons from a period (including weapons recovered by academics) but exclude the obvious geopolitical and social effects.
    – NL7
    Apr 2 '14 at 17:29
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    Agreed, it becomes endlessly recursive. So I guess I'm commenting both that the question is somewhat arbitrary (though still intriguing, clearly) and that its parameters are somewhat fuzzy. Does it have to be specific inanimate objects? What about rump fighters who continue the fight, like FARC after the Colombian civil war or equivalent forces in the African Great Lakes region?
    – NL7
    Apr 2 '14 at 18:04

I'm not sure, but here is a good candidate:

Experts suspect White was killed while trying to disarm a 9-inch, 75-pound naval cannonball, a particularly potent explosive with a more complex fuse and many times the destructive power of those used by infantry artillery.

Biemeck and Peter George, co-author of a book on Civil War ordnance, believe White was using either a drill or a grinder attached to a drill to remove grit from the cannonball, causing a shower of sparks.

Because of the fuse design, it may have appeared as though the weapon's powder had already been removed, leading even a veteran like White to conclude mistakenly that the ball was inert.

  • 2
    This is missing literally every important detail. Someone died from an old cannonball. When did he die? When is the cannonball from? Sure they talked to 2 civil war book authors. But is it actually from that war, or, from that period? Is that just the only people who had any credentials in old war stuff that they could find on short notice? What's the difference between the two dates? I don't want to do maths!
    – Shane
    Sep 15 '16 at 18:33
  • Shane - I followed the link: foxnews.com/story/2008/05/02/… It is dated May 2008 and says that White was killed in February (presumably of that year) by a shell from the Civil War of 1961 to 1865. Thus the shell had been fired about 143 to 147 years earlier.
    – MAGolding
    Mar 1 '17 at 3:51

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