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The phrase was actually Fire Bell (not ball!) in the Night- and referred to the Civil War being an unanticipated sudden alarm-like crisis- I have had to deal with a few fire alarms at odd hours in my apartment complex- not a pleasant task! the idea suggests a sudden impact- unexpected, like a fire alarm. the argument is not too logical as the slave-free crisis had been building up for years since at least the Missouri Compromise of l850 and others ( Bleeding Kansas- 36.30_ ( the Mason Dixon line on a map was 36-30 north. oddly a popular revolver of the period was .36 caliber and used thirty grains of black powder- a powerful round. serious war, yes, unanticpated sudden alarm, no.

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Q: What was a fireball in the south during the war?
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