Sunday, April 29, 2012

Civil War brass I didn't know I had (Again!)

Hey everyone!  I've been scouting some new properties, which can often take time before it produces results.  In between scouting trips, Jim and I would headed back to our "old faithful" construction site, hoping to rescue a few more relics before the new buildings go up.  We've done a fairly good job cleaning the place up, but it's a large area and there are still a few more dozer-scattered bullets to be found.  Here are a few bullets found on recent trips.

Now, in the past, I've talked about the fun of identifying unknown relics and the importance of hanging on to things you can't quite ID.  Recently I found yet another example of this, and pulled another Saxapahaw Civil War relic from my scrap box.  But the story actually starts back in 2010.  One of my early finds here in Saxapahaw was this large, flat, brass oval.  I didn't know what it was, but it was interesting and I knew I should keep it, so into the scrap box it went.  Several months went by, and I happened to be perusing one of the numerous detecting forums on the web when I found a post of one user's best Civil War recoveries.  Scrolling through pictures of buckles and buttons, there I find this same large, flat, brass oval.  I jumped up and ran to my box to recovered my piece, and sure enough, it was an exact match.  It was ID'ed as the pan portion (sometimes called the "clam shell" or "mouse ear" ) of a shoulder epaulette or shoulder scale.

These brass pieces, issued to Union troops, were made up of several pieces that form a row of armor over the shoulder.  They were intended to reduce injuries from cavalry sabre strikes to the shoulder, but proved to be rather ineffective in actual use.  As a result, they were often discarded by soldiers, so finding one at a late-war site (for example, here in Saxapahaw) is much less common.  Here is a picture of a Union soldier showing shoulder scales in use, as well as an original non-dug pair of shoulder scales.

Recently I had a bit of a deja-vu moment.  I was browsing some recent finds on a detecting forum, when I happened across a small brass piece which looked familiar.  I once again ran down to the scrap box, and sure enough I had recovered the same small brass item from the field where the shoulder scale pan had been found.

The shoulder scale attached to the uniform using a brass turn-key piece, which I had already recovered without realizing it!  The image below shows a pair of reproduction turn-key attachments, as well as a pair of original scales demonstrating how the turn-keys work.  The turnkey I found is pictured above.  My first thought was to grab the DFX and search the field again for the rest of the scales, but it will have to wait, as the field is currently in hay.  I will, of course, keep you updated should I find some more of it though!

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