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150th anniversary of Confederate explosion marked

Wednesday - 3/13/2013, 1:38pm  ET

Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A little-known chapter of the Civil War is being recognized in Richmond.

The state dedicated a historic marker Wednesday to mark the 150th anniversary of a deadly explosion at an ordnance complex on Brown's Island in the James River.

The 1863 explosion at the Confederate Ordnance Lab killed at least 41, including women and children who worked there. Many of the young women were Irish immigrants, and bagpipes sounded as the historic marker was dedicated.

The explosion was sparked when a worker, Mary Ryan, accidentally ignited a friction primer. The munitions complex was established to assemble cartridges and other percussion caps for the Confederates.

Speakers said as the 150th anniversary of the Civil War is remembered, it's important to honor not only generals and soldiers, but civilian casualties as well.

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