Last Saturday, a suspicious package was found in Middletown, Virginia.  It was during a Civil War reenactment, where actors played both soldiers in the Confederate and the Union armies battling it out at Cedar Creek.  The real battle took place at the same location on October 19th, 1864, where the Confederates unleashed a surprise attack against the Union soldiers camped there.

Now it seems an explosive device may have been found there.  A week prior to the incident, the coordinators for the event received a serious threat citing “bodily harm” to the actors and attendees, but the threat was not deemed credible by local authorities.  Fast forward one week, and Virginia State Police Bomb Squad were there, clearing the area to neutralize the unknown package.  They would later say the device was “rendered safe” and had working dogs search the rest of the area, clearing the old battlefield of any other potential bombs.  The FBI was called in, and alongside ATF, the Virginia State Police, the Frederick’s County Sheriff’s Office, and the Middletown Police Department, a thorough investigation is in the works.  They have refused to comment until more details have come to light.

Many people would call it a day after such a threat to their lives, but the Union and Confederate actors wouldn’t have it.  They were determined to “honor all veterans” and continued on with their reenactment on Sunday.  They were reported to have finished the battle successfully and started to chant, “U.S.A.” over and over again, in defiance of the threat to their lives.

Though details on the device had not yet been released, there was unconfirmed talk of a remote detonator.  IF there is any merit to this suggestion, which again has not been confirmed by authorities, this would make the device fairly complex.  Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are commonly known for their victim activated triggers.  You have a bomb just waiting to be set off by an electrical current which is held back by a gap in the electrical circuit.  The trigger (a switch of some kind) completes the circuit and activates the IED.  A trip-wire is a good example of this–as the victim accidentally pulls the trip-wire, the circuit completes and the device explodes, often projecting shrapnel into the victim alongside the real killer: overpressure.

A remote detonator takes another level of skill–remote meaning it is not activated by the victim and the perpetrator is not manually operating the explosive.  The first thing you might think of is a cell phone operated device–the electronics of the phone are hooked up to the IED, the incoming signal makes the phone ring, which completes the circuit and activates the explosive.  A timer is also remote, and though timers don’t usually consist of big flashing numbers, they do count down–it could be a watch set on an alarm, it could be one of those old, simple oven timers.

You can begin to see how remote detonation takes another level of expertise.  As this situation develops, authorities will no doubt take special interest in this perpetrator if the device was found to have a remote detonator of some kind.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – not taken from the incident at Cedar Creek.