Monday, November 14, 2011

Back from Diggin in Virginia!!

And it was so much fun!!  The invitational relic hunt took place over three days in an area known as Hansbrough Ridge in Culpeper, VA.  The ridge and surrounding fields consisted of hundreds of acres of Union camps and picket posts during the winter of 1863-1864.  In addition to the camps, there was some fighting near the south west of the ridge line associated with the Battle of Brandy Station and a smaller section of Confederate camps.  The photo above shows Cole's Hill, at the very north of the site.  The white spots up on the hill are soldier's tents.

I saw some simply amazing finds unearthed this weekend, and made some good ones of my own.  There were literally thousands of bullets, buttons, and other artifacts uncovered.  Numerous buckles and plates were recovered, including US box plates, at least three US eagle breast plates (one by my friend, congrats Jim!), a NY belt plate, TWO "CS" tongue and wreath buckles, and more.  There were at least three soldier's ID tags found.  I even witnessed an officer's sword recovered!  It was simply mind-blowing.

I also got to spend time with several of my friends from the Triangle Relic Recovery club in Raleigh and the Old North State Detectorists club in Greensboro, carpooling up together and hunting at the event.  I met a lot of great new people, too, including YouTube sensation Beau aka AquaChigger, DIV founders John and Rose K, and our driver to the hunt site "Woodland" Mike Post of Woodland Detectors.  Woodland Mike is a great guy and a fellow Tar Heel, so look him up if you decide you want to take up this great hobby.  It was the people who made this trip an unforgettable experience, and the finds were just icing on the cake.

My finds for the hunt included quite a bit of camp lead (bits from bullet making or melting bullets), two brass rivets, period rimfire shell casings, and two iron buckles.  I found the back to one cuff button (many buttons fall apart in the fields from the fertilizer and plow action), and one broken pre-civil war tombac button.  One of my favorite finds is this brass knapsack hook which came out of a brief exploration of the woods.

I recovered 24 bullets in total over the three days.  The 11 unfired Sharps bullets (top and bottom rows) were all found on a hill near the southern portion of the property.  I also recovered quite a few smaller caliber pistol bullets in that field, though I've yet to ID many of them.  I found several three ring minie balls similar to the ones I have found previously at Bentonville, NC and my own farm here in Saxapahaw.  One of these is a first for me, though - the base of the bullet is imprinted with a small star, a maker's mark unique to the Washington Arsenal.  The third bullet down in the left hand column is my first William's cleaner bullet.  The post on the back end would have had a zinc disc attached, which acted to scrub out the residue of a dirty gun barrel when fired.

The item front and center in the photograph is very special to me.  It truly is the find of a lifetime - but this post is long enough, so I'm going to keep you in suspense for another day.  Thanks for checking out the blog, and come back tomorrow night and I'll recall the story of this find, as well as it's great significance.

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