Sunday, October 9, 2011
A Virginia Confederate in Saxapahaw, NC
I put the detector up, brought in the horses, and passed out hay and grain. Emily was just finishing up her lesson, and I mentioned in passing that the spot had been a bust. "I have 15 minutes of light left" I told her "so pick another spot, and make it a good one!"
So I headed out, trying to see how many targets I could recover before the sun dipped below the trees. The answer turned out to be just one, because what came out of the red clay stopped me in my tracks. A two piece brass button, which I assumed was likely another Bingham Uniform button. That's not to say Bingham buttons are common, but the close proximity to the school made it plausible.
I ran inside to clean my find, and was floored by what I saw - Civil War era Virginia State Seal button!! The device (front image) of the button shows the figure of Virtus standing over the body of a slain tyrant, the Virginia state seal. Above the seal reads "VIRGINIA", and below "SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS" the Virginia motto meaning "Death Always to Tyrants."
The back of the button is even more fascinating. The backmark reads "Kent Paine & Co. Richmond" in a depressed channel. It was made for a unified Virginia unit prior to the outbreak of the war, but pre-war state seal buttons were, of course, used throughout the war. The shank is bent, but still intact. The really unique thing about this particular button is a few strands of the original attachment thread, preserved in the thick clay for all these years. This is something I have seen on dug buttons in the past, but it is an extreme rarity. For the collectors out there, this button is Albert's reference VA13A and Tice's reference VA222A3, and a non-dug example can be seen here: front and back.
I know that troops from both sides marched within a few miles of here in 1865, but some of my area metal detecting finds lead me to suspect at least some troops moved across my farm specifically. This Virginia seal button is a strong piece of evidence in support of this theory. I feel very blessed to have recovered it, especially here on my own land. And I'm thrilled to be able to share it with all of you! Thanks for looking, I hope you enjoyed the story, and God bless!