Saturday, October 22, 2011

Detecting Report: Back to Bentonville Oct 21

John, Brad, and I went back to the Battle of Bentonville to detect a few sites where John has permission to search.  We had a really great day with a lot of fun and some really cool finds.

We started off at a site we searched on our last trip down, but a different section of the field.  John started off the day with a fired Confederate Sharps bullet right out of the gate.  I called it a three-ringer in the video, but when he cleaned it up, it turned out to be a sharps.  John also got the base from a Williams cleaner bullet from this field.  I recovered two bullets there, the first being a fired and slightly deformed 58 caliber three ring Minie ball.  The second was a really nice one - a fired Confederate Enfield bullet that struck something hard straight on.  I also found a small roundball from a buck-and-ball shot, and a large piece of iron that may or may not be an artillery fragment.  You can see it much better at the end of the video, and any thoughts on that are welcomed.

What I find most interesting is not just what we found, but how those objects support our understanding of what went on in that field almost 150 years ago.  Union forces were moving in to attack the Confederates, and would have emerged from the woods and advanced across the open field.  In the open, they took Confederate fire from the opposite woodline.  This Union advance was where we were detecting yesterday, and found several fired and struck Confederate bullets.  As the Union troops moved across the middle of the field, they dropped several of their own unfired bullets, either from a pouch as they got ammunition to load or dropped by a casualty of Confederate fire.  This middle section of the field is where we detected last time, and recovered several unfired 58 three-ringers.

After lunch we went on to a second site, where John believed there may have been a small camp.  We knew it would be either feast or famine at that spot, and unfortunately we came up empty.  So we tried a third and final site that we knew would produce better, a peanut field where the plants had recently been dug up to dry.  Detecting in between the rows, we did manage some nice finds.  Brad got his bullet for the day, a fired three ringer.  John got a nice variety of finds, including a 69 round ball, a fired Confederate Enfield bullet, and an 1888 Indian Head penny.  I picked up two more dropped three ringers in this field as well. 

I also got a small lead piece there, which at the time I believed was a carved bullet.  It turns out that what I have is the finial used for closing a leather percussion cap box.  Union issued percussion cap boxes came with brass finials, but many confederates used lead finials.  I've included a picture of a confederate percussion cap box for sale at which shows how the lead finial attached to the cap box.  I really like this find a lot!

We had a great time preserving some history, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it!  Until next time, thanks for reading, and God bless.

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