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...