Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from Detecting Saxapahaw!!

Hey everyone!  I just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas from my family to yours.  I spent the yesterday with my wife's family touring some of the museums in Raleigh, and of course I had to make a stop in at the Civil War exhibit at the Museum of History.  It was very well put together, with some really great artifacts on display.  I will say that it was quite a bit smaller than I imagined from the emphasis on the exhibit shown at their website.  It's still definitely worth checking out if you're in the area.  The exhibit is housed within the Museum of History and next door to the Museum of Natural Science, so there is plenty there for your viewing pleasure.  We had a great time learning together and spending time with each other this holiday season. 

I wish you all a happy holidays and Merry Christmas from Detecting Saxapahaw!!

 North Carolina uniform coat, NC Museum of History
Notice the NC sunburst buttons!
6 Pounder cannon used by North Carolina troops, NC Museum of History

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A three-cannonball day!!

I got out again over the weekend with my friend Jim from Touch the Past, and had one heck of a day. I got a total of four bullets for the day, three of them 58 caliber three ring Minie balls and one Williams cleaner bullet.  I recovered these two interesting finials, one made of brass and the other from lead.  The brass finial is from a cartridge box, and is used to affix the leather flap to keep the box closed.  An example of a Union cartridge box showing that style of finial in use can be seen here.

In the field I believed the lead finial on the right might also be from a cartridge box, as some Confederate boxes used lead finials.  The design isn’t quite right for a box finial, though, and I think it is more likely from a Confederate bayonet scabbard tip like either of these two examples.  I also found another button which I didn't record on video, since it was so caked in stuck on dirt that I didn't realize it was a Confederate uniform button!  This one is the second NC sunburst to come from the field.

Just before lunchtime, Jim came over to show me a canister shot ball he had just dug.  Canister shot is a type of anti-personnel artillery ammunition consisting of a larger number of smaller iron balls, effectively turning the cannon into a giant shotgun.  On our last hunt we pulled several friction primers from this area, as well. Thinking that we might be in an area to find some artillery, I started paying a bit more attention to the iron signals, just in case. The signal itself wasn't "loud" per se, clearly evident, but not blowing my ears off like I might expect. But it did cover a large surface area.  I had scooped out the blade length of my shovel and the signal was still in the hole (and now it was loud!)There was no signal with a handheld pinpointer yet, meaning it was still quite a bit deeper, so I called over Jim to check it out. I was worrying my pinpointing was off, and it was going to be something smaller in the side of the hole. With his confirmation that I was spot on, I kept going down, and down, and down. And then it showed up - the top of my first artillery projectile! The picture with my shovel in the hole is to the top of the cannon ball, which is still in the hole in that shot.

When I could feel it break loose, I called Jim back over and we shot some video, which is posted below. While I was digging out the first one, I thought I felt the shovel knock on something in the side of the hole. So I kept on going, and sure enough, number two came out of the hole.  In taking that one out, I exposed the third one just below those two. I kept expanding the hole outward, and checked with the pinpointer and DFX to be sure, so I know I didn't leave any behind. Man, what a thrill to find one, let alone three at once!!

All three are six pound solid shot, which would be fired from a model 1841 Six-Pounder cannon.  They measure 3.58 inches in diameter, and are made of solid cast iron.  The six-pounder cannon, while incredibly popular during the Mexican War of the 1840’s, was being phased out during the Civil War in favor of Twelve-Pounder Napoleons and other larger guns.  Six-Pounders were still used in the Confederate artillery that was desperate for any cannon, and the Union still employed them in the Western theater as well as attached to cavalry for increased mobility using the smaller guns.  Solid shot ammunition would primarily be used in targeting enemy cannons, houses, wagons, and earthworks, and could be devastating against personnel if fired into a column.  Here is a video showing a six-pounder cannon being fired.

The artillery was cleaned using electrolysis to remove the built up rust and prevent further deterioration.  This process is necessary for iron relics to stabilize and preserve them.  They still need a few more finishing touches and a wax coating, but this is pretty much how they'll look for the future.  Below is the video from the hunt, which includes the cannonball recovery and some of the cleaning process.  Thanks for looking, and for the comments. I hope you enjoyed the story, pictures, and video of my exciting three-cannonball day!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Diggin' in NC and a truly North Carolina relic

Well, I'm back from my detecting trip to Virginia, but still finding plenty of Civil War relics right here in the Old North State.  I got out with my friend Jim to a spot that he had researched, and we both made some great recoveries.  I'm really excited with the variety of relics I was able to find.  Here are my finds for the day.

The lead around the outside comprised most of my finds.  This included three round balls and a number of dropped and fired three ring minie balls.  The bullet in the top row center appears to have been carved, and I think it was originally a Sharps bullet.  I found an interesting variety of brass finds, too.  This included two J hooks (one missing the button end).  You may recall that I just found my first J hook at the beginning of last month, and I describe this item's use in that blog post.  On the right side of the group finds photo are two fragmented Spencer carbine bullet casings, used in ammunition for a Spencer repeating rifle by the Union cavalry.  On one of the two casings, only the flat base remains, which is not uncommon when these fragile pieces are recovered from the ground.  We found several fired Spencer bullets and brass casings in the area previously.

The three copper tubes are particularly interesting, and something I have never found before.  They are known as friction primers, and are used to fire cannons.  The longer tube would be filled with gunpowder, while the perpendicular nib contained a material that would spark with minimal friction.  The primer's longer tube would be inserted into the cannon, and a line known as a lanyard attached to the primer.  This would allow the artillery operator to stand well back from the cannon, and when he pulled on the lanyard, the friction would spark, igniting the gunpowder in the primer tube.  This flash set off the cannon's main charge to fire the projectile.

The most unique recovery goes to this 1844 One Shilling coin from Britain.  Until the Coinage Act of 1857, foreign silver could be used as legal tender in the United States, so finding foreign coins in Civil War or pre Civil War sites is not unusual.  I'm typically not as excited by coins as I was before I started relic hunting, but a unique find like this would certainly be the exception.  In my opinion, it is a relic first and foremost, and will be displayed as such.

The best find for the day was actually my very first signal of the day - a North Carolina sunburst uniform button.  The condition leaves a lot to be desired, but a Confederate button in any condition is an excellent find.  As is typical with these NC buttons, the shank is no longer intact.  This is my second NC sunburst button, and the first (which is in much nicer condition!) was found right here in Saxapahaw last year.  Jim recovered several confederate bullets in the area (including an excellent "57" marked Enfield and a Charleston high-base minie), and the round balls I found were also likely used by the rebels.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


WOW, what a day!  I am beat!

DIV XXII at Beauregard Farm has finally wrapped up, and it was so much fun.  I started out the morning detecting the 69 field with Jim, as most people had gone on to other locations and there was plenty of space to detect.  We got into a patch of 69 caliber bullets and other relics, so we called up Dwight and Glenn and invited them to join us.  We all made some good finds in the area, especially Jim who had a great day overall.  Before lunch I had racked up nine more 69 caliber bullets and one small colt pistol bullet.  I just love finding those massive projectiles, and it's difficult to imagine the destruction that they could inflict.  I also got two eagle buttons, one with significant face damage, and the other in quite good shape.

Then it was off to the DIV sponsored lunch, where we ate BBQ and perused the impromptu museum of recently unearthed relics.  These included buckles, buttons, artillery projectiles, bottles, two ID tags, and more.  After lunch I went back to detecting with Jim, but the finds slowed down considerably.  I found a cool bayonet scabbard tip, but that was about it. 

I was exhausted, and dragging across the field when I got another signal on the side of a hill.  Digging down, I uncovered a piece of camp lead, and immediately recognized the black ash on the outside of the lead - I had found another hut site.  With only 40 minutes until the end of the hunt.  As another digger commented "Congratulations, and I'm sorry."

For the remainder of the 40 minutes, Jim and I dug like mad, trying to recover as much as possible from the rapidly expanding hole.  The ash layer just kept going and going, it seemed without end.  We weren't able to completely explore the hut, but we did as well as possible in the time allowed.  In the end, we didn't end up getting any stellar finds, but the experience was incredible.  It was Jim's first hut dig, and it was awesome getting to share that with him.  We did record the GPS location of the hut, should we ever get a chance to return.  What we did recover from the hut included fragments of broken glass, crockery, dinner plates, and lots and lots of oyster shells.  It's incredible to think that what we were recovering was the remains of a soldier's meal, and even part of the plate he was eating from.  Jim put it best when he said "This is the closest I have ever been to an individual Civil War soldier."

DIV started strong and ended with a bang.  I'm sad to have to go, but anxious to return to my home in Saxapahaw (and get some rest!).  As with the last DIV, I will make a recap post in the next few days highlighting some of the specific finds, with new pictures and information about their use.  Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

DIV Blog: Day 2

Day 2 at DIV XXII started off slowly for me, but ended up being another really great day for Civil War relics.  Once again I spent most of the day detecting with my NC friends Jim, Dwight, and Glenn.  We detected at a new section of the farm, starting at the top of a hill and working down.  The soil here was some of the worst I've ever encountered, and detecting was challenging to say the least.  I managed a few bullets in the morning, and then an iron trigger guard from a musket.  The iron loop on the front of the guard would have been used to attach the rifle sling.

After that find, I hit a dry spell for quite some time.  After checking in with Jim and telling him about my slump, he suggested I head to one small section of the field where electromagnetic interference from nearby electrical lines made some of the high-end detectors unstable.  Since many people will avoid these areas, and my DFX is less affected by the EMI, he thought I might be able to find a bullet over there.  I went exactly where he had pointed, and dug a three ring bullet within just a few minutes.  As it turns out, there was a small pocket of bullets in that area, and within fifteen minutes I had dug three more, including a pulled three ring bullet and two Confederate gardner bullets.  I have only dug one gardner before this, so I was thrilled to find them.

I found two more bullets before the day was out, a three ringer and a colt pistol bullet.  With just a few minutes left to go, I found another musket piece, the trigger assembly!  It's humbling to think of the history contained in that small piece of iron.  When I got a chance to start cleaning my finds at the hotel, I discovered that one of the three ringers I had dug included a star in the base.  This is a maker's mark used by the Washington Arsenal, and is the second such bullet I have dug (the first at DIV XIX at Hansbrough ridge).  It was another great day of digging, and I am having a blast up here in ol' Virginia!  Until next time, thanks for reading!

Friday, November 16, 2012


DIV got off to a great start today!  I hunted with my NC detecting friends most of the day.  The highly mineralized soil of Northern Virginia makes finding targets with a VLF detector (like my White's DFX) rather difficult at times, and I dug a LOT of scrap iron as a result.  The corn stalks made detecting somewhat challenging as well.  But there were plenty of good targets to find, and I’m very happy with the results of my first day out.

In addition to some broken glass and melted camp lead, I recovered a total of twelve bullets.  I found another 69 caliber Minie ball which are massive bullets and always a pleasure to find.  You may recall that I found several 69 Caliber Minies in this same area at DIV XX in March 2011.  The three ring bullet with a post on the base is a Williams Cleaner Type 1, a welcome change from the Type 3 zinc plunger cleaners we typically find at late-war sites in North Carolina.  My favorite bullet for the day is a melted round ball from a type of ammunition known as “buck and ball.”  This round includes a large round ball on the bottom and three smaller buckshot balls on top, firing additional projectiles with each shot for an increased chance of striking the enemy.  This particular buck and ball round appears to have been melted in a fire, and one of the loose buck balls has fused to the larger round bullet.

I also recovered two Union general service eagle buttons.  One has significant damage to the front (likely from a plow), but the other is in excellent condition and has a gorgeous green patina.  I’ll post better pictures of the buttons in my DIV recap post at the end of the hunt.

The best find that I witnessed today was in the form of multiple bullets in one hole – a LOT of bullets!  At the end of the day the count was well over 100 Minie balls, and there were clearly more in the hole.  We can only speculate why so many were either lost, forgotten, or discarded all at once.

Well, I’m incredibly sore from 10 hours of non-stop digging, so it’s back to bed so I can do it all again tomorrow!  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

DIV Blog: Day 0

Well, it's that time again.....


I was fortunate enough to have been selected once again for DIV, and invitational group relic hunt held twice yearly.  This year's hunt (DIV XXII) is being held at the Beauregard Farm near Brandy Station, VA.  The farm was home to part of the Battle of Brandy Station as well as both US and CS winter camps.

It has been a long day getting up to Virginia and preparing for the dig, including attending the pre-hunt meeting earlier this evening.  It was great fun seeing a number of friends who I haven't been around since the last DIV event in March of this year.  For now, though, I need to try and get some sleep.  The three day hunt starts tomorrow, and I will need all the rest I can get.  I will update the blog again tomorrow night with the results from Day 1.  Wish us luck!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bullets and buttons on a gorgeous November day

My good friend Jim has been doing some research to find a particular spot where part of the Union army camped in 1865, and invited me along to check it out with him. I'm really impressed with the thoroughness of his work in tracking down some of these places, and the history of the people who were there. His attention to detail is incredible and his passion for history is contagious.  It really has been a pleasure getting to know Jim and working with him to recover some history.  We've made several unsuccessful attempts to locate this camp lately, but yesterday we finally found it!  Congratulations, Jim - you did it!  And to top it off, the landowner was among the most accommodating that I've had the pleasure of working with.  He even went so far as to bring us cold drinks after a few hours!

Here are the period relics I was able to recover. The top row are all three ring Minie ball bullets, three 58 calibers and one 54 caliber on the right.  The two bullets in the center row are a fired 44 caliber colt pistol bullet on the left and an unfired Sharps carbine bullet on the right.  On the bottom row are fired Spencer carbine bullets.  Unlike many other Civil War bullets, which used a paper or skin cartridge, the Spencer bullets used a brass rimfire cartridge.  I recovered one Spencer cartridge casing, shown between the two bullets.  I'm quite happy with the condition on this casing, as they are fragile and often heavily damaged when recovered from the ground.

The button in the center is a Federal Staff Officer's button.  It's shown above with a similar non-dug example from the Ridgeway reference archive. Unfortunately the back is missing entirely, and only the front was recovered.  This is a first for me, and I'm very happy to have recovered it.  The condition is lacking, due to corrosion from its time underground, once again stressing the importance of recovering these relics before they are destroyed by time and the elements.

I also found two other buttons that predate the war.  The button on the left is known as a tombac button, which I have discussed previously after digging one right here in Saxapahaw.  The tombac alloy resists corrosion, and is still shiny despite being lost in the late 1700's to early 1800's.  They are somewhat brittle, however, as you can see by the fragmentation of part of this one.  On the right is a civilian flat button, with some of the original gold gilt remaining on the back.  This type of button probably dates to the 1830's to 1850's.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite sites to see - the bright white patina of a Civil War bullet seeing the light of day for the first time in nearly 150 years...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Civil War relics, and a 19th Century Nickel

Hey everyone!  Here are the results from my last two trips out with my good friend Jim.  We managed to get into another pocket of relics, dropped by Union troops under General Sherman as they made their way through central North Carolina.  The first day was all about lead for me, and I recovered six 58 caliber three-ring Minie balls.  I also found the top half of another bullet, which had been cut off by a soldier, either out of boredom or to create some form of "camp art."  Jim found an ornate carved bullet nearby that was almost certainly a chess piece (perhaps a bishop or queen), and it's possible that this cut-off bullet may have been a pawn, though this is of course speculation.  It may well have been cut in half simply out of boredom, for some other purpose, or for no reason at all - we'll never know for sure.  In any case, these modified bullets have a much more personal connection to the individual soldier, and are among my favorite relics to find.

Though the number of relics was fewer on the second trip out, I'm very happy with what I was able to find.  I added one more 58 caliber bullet this time out.  The other bullet is the top half of a Williams cleaner, missing the zinc base, but is a bit more special than a typical dropped bullet.  The markings dug into the top of the bullet indicate that it was loaded into a rifle, and then subsequently pulled out again.  A corkscrew device known as a puller or worm was used to grab onto the bullet in the bottom of the barrel and pull it back out to safely unload the weapon.

The rusty iron object is actually a four-hole underwear button, as excavated.  I have also included a picture of the button after removing much of the rust buildup  Unfortunately this is as far as I could go with cleaning it before starting to lose base metal, so I went ahead and applied a protective coat, and hopefully it won't degrade too much more.

The brass piece shown above the pulled cleaner bullet is referred to as a "J hook."  This is the first complete J hook that I have ever found, so I was very excited to recover it.  The button end was used to affix the hook to a leather strap on a knapsack, while the hook end was used as a fastener or hanger.  Below is a picture of a complete knapsack, with two brass J hooks attached.

I was very excited to dig a coin back there, hoping it was from the Civil War. Unfortunately it turns out it's post war, an 189? Liberty Head or V Nickel. While unrelated to the Civil War activity of the area, it's still a neat 100+ year old find. It must have been dropped by one of the hunters who left behind all the shotgun shell heads I keep finding out there!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Iron Relic Electrolysis

In my last post, I showed off a couple of cool iron relics that I recovered at the site of Mower's Charge in Bentonville, NC.  Lead and brass relics can be damaged by farm equipment, construction, fertilizer, and moisture in the ground, but are typically fairly stable once removed.  Iron relics, on the other hand, present an interesting challenge.  While they are also damaged by time underground, the rate of corrosion of iron objects rapidly increases once brought out into the atmosphere.  As a result, we have to take steps to remove the oxidation (rust) that is present upon recovery and protect the artifact from further damage.

One of the most effective methods for removing the rust layer is known as electrolysis.  Here's a picture of my electrolysis rig, and although it's a bit crude in aesthetics, the design is essentially the same as those used by universities and professional laboratories to preserve iron artifacts.  NOTE:  Electrolysis can be a very dangerous process, involving electricity with exposed wires and the generation of potentially harmful, flammable, and/or explosive gasses.  Don't try this at home.  Or if you do, be safe, use adequate ventilation, and don't say I didn't warn you.

My rig consists of a plastic container (in my case, a 5 gallon bucket) filled with an electrolyte solution (I used Cascade dish soap, primarily sodium carbonate).  In the solution are two electrodes.  For a positive electrode, I used stainless steel flashing left over from a construction job (EDIT:  I've recently learned that SS results in harmful byproducts, and should be avoided.  Use iron rebar, instead).  As you can see in the picture, I used two pieces on opposite sides of the tub to provide an even current distribution, and connected them together using four lead wires.  The negative electrode will be the iron relic to be cleaned.  In my setup, it is suspended by a crossbar using two connected wire leads.  It is very important that the two electrodes not come into contact with each other!  The positive and negative electrodes are connected to a battery charger (I used either 12V 6A or 12V 2A settings, depending on the object being cleaned).  When the current is supplied by the battery charger, the relic will start to bubble as iron oxide is stripped away, leaving a rust-free artifact.  If you're interested in learning more, I would highly recommend this video from relic hunter Beau Ouimette showing his electrolysis unit in action.

Here is a before and after showing the CS pentagonal cavity shell fragment after the first round of electrolysis.  I will most likely run it through again to remove some of the remaining stubborn rust spots, but you can already see a tremendous improvement.

A more striking example is the lock plate from an Enfield rifle found last weekend.  What was once a glob of rusted iron has been transformed to reveal the mostly-intact mechanism from inside the rifle.  The next step will be to remove excess water from the iron by soaking in acetone, and finally sealing the relic with a hot wax to prevent further rusting.

I do hope this post has been helpful (or at least entertaining).  Thanks for reading, and I look forward to showing you what I dig up next!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Detecting the Battle of Bentonville

The Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina took place on March 19-21st, 1865.  It was the last great offensive for the Confederate Army under General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding about 20,000 men.  The Union, under General William T. Sherman, was comprised of about 60,000 men.  The results of those three days of combat were more than 3,000 men killed or wounded, along with a decisive Union victory that left the Confederate army fleeing and the end of the war in sight.

On the third and final day of the battle, March 21st, General Joseph Mower requested permission to conduct “a little reconnaissance” to his front on the Union right wing.  This quickly escalated, and he lead two brigades on a full scale attack on the Confederate left wing, defending General Johnston’s headquarters as well as the highly important Mill Creek bridge.  This attack, which became known as Mower’s Charge, broke the confederate flank and reached as far as Johnston’s headquarters, forcing a Confederate retreat.  The charge was ended by a counterattack from Confederate General William Hardee (whose only son was mortally wounded during the counterattack), as well as orders from General Sherman to pull back to avoid a larger confrontation.  During the night of March 21st, the Confederates retreated across the Mill Creek bridge, ending the battle.  The drawing above is a depiction of Mower's Charge from the Frank Leslie Illustrated Newspaper.

With field crops now being to be harvested, I was able to get out with my good friend Jim to do some detecting near the site of Mower’s Charge.  I had some very good luck this trip, and broke out of my recent detecting slump in a big way.  Above is a picture of all my finds from the battle.

I recovered three bullets during the day.  The center bullet is an unfired 58 caliber three ring minie ball, the most commonly used ammunition.  To the left is another 58 caliber bullet, heavily deformed from impact after firing.  This is an excellent example of the power of the weapons used, and shows why they were capable of such devastating wounds.   On the right is another type of minie ball, this one a 577 Enfield bullet.  This is a much less common round, and only the third such bullet that I have personally recovered.

After the battle, Union Lt. Matthew Jamison of the 10th Illinois wrote “[We] form line of battle in a heavily wooded country and move forward instantly, scarcely giving time to form the line and to allow the skirmishers to deploy.  Nothing joins our extreme left – skirmishers engaged – as we advance rebel batteries shell us.”  He is describing the advance of Mower’s Charge, and the Confederate batteries (groups of typically four cannons each) firing explosive projectiles (shells) towards their approach.  One of my finds includes this heavy piece of iron, a fragment from a Confederate pentagonal cavity exploding shell.  The pentagonal internal cavity, filled with gunpowder and a particular geometry used exclusively by late-war Confederate artillery, allowed for more consistent fragmentation upon detonation and thus greater damage to enemy troops below.  I have discussed this type of projectile previously, this being the second pentagonal cavity shell fragment I have found near Mower’s charge.

My favorite find the day, though, is this rusted iron piece – a lock plate from a rifle broken or lost during the battle.  It is most likely from an Enfield rifle, although several other less common rifles used similar locks.  The hammer on the outside (which would strike the percussion cap to fire the weapon) is missing, but the internal mechanism seems to be quite intact.  Below are pictures of an original Enfield rifle showing how the lock plate attached to the gun, along with a reproduction lock plate showing the internal mechanism.  I will clean and preserve the iron by electrolysis to prevent further corrosion, and will post new pictures of the results when that is complete.

It is difficult to comprehend the circumstances of that day on March 21st, 1865 when this gun was lost.  We will never know for sure exactly why it was left there, given the incredible amount of musket fire, artillery explosions, fierce fighting, injury and death that was going on around it.  Artifacts like this always provide such a personal connection to the war that was so brutal on both sides.  That is the reason I pursue this great hobby of relic hunting, and share it with you here on Detecting Saxapahaw.

Last but not least, in case you thought it was too easy, here’s an example of some of the many pounds of junk I carted away!  Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for my upcoming electrolysis update!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

One Man's Trash...

Hey everyone!  I've been out a few times since my last update, with a couple of keepers to show for it.  The three ring minie ball on the left was mentioned in my previous post - but since I was taking pictures of my other finds, I thought I'd include it.  The rest of the finds in this picture came from a different Union Civil War camp here in central NC.  My detecting partner Jim got the best find from this particular spot - a gorgeous "Eagle I" infantry button with original gold gilt.  I'll put up a link here when he posts a picture online.

The brass rectangles are reeds from some sort of squeezebox musical instrument, similar to the flutina reeds seen here.  They may or may not be associated with the camp, as there were some post-war era items found nearby.  The other lead finds in the picture include the top half of a William's Cleaner bullet as well as some melted lead.  I didn't notice it at first, but Jim pointed out that one of the melted lead globs is actually a half-melted bullet - you can still see the nose and conical base cavity.

I first thought that the iron bar might be a section of a bayonet blade, but I'm not quite convinced.  It has a diamond shaped cross-section, unlike the triangular cross-section associated with typical Union bayonets.  The only period bayonet with a diamond cross-section that I'm aware of is the Lorenz Austrian bayonet, used by the Confederacy.  Based on the location of the find (a late-war Union Camp), this would be unlikely, though certainly not impossible.  Opinions are welcome on this piece!

While the coin may have the look of tarnished silver, I knew from the reading on my detector that it was not.  Despite being found very near to the camp, it turned out to be a copper-nickel 1/2 Swiss Franc coin from 1979.  It's still a neat addition to my collection, though.

One of my favorite recent finds came almost completely by accident.  We were wandering about in the woods looking for another Civil War site when we stumbled across a very large bottle dump.  Trash and broken glass were strewn about everywhere, and it obviously served as a trash dump for several houses over a period of time.  My eye was drawn to this collection of partially buried milk-glass jars, and I simply had to check them out.  The bottom of one of one of these jars identifies its manufacturer as the Woodbury Soap company.  Woodbury produced a number of cosmetics products, including the cold cremes and facial cremes once found in these jars, and was incredibly popular in the 1930's and 40's.  Although not as old as most things I look for, I thought they were great, and brought them home to clean them up.  I take the old adage of "one man's trash" quite literally!!