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.


  1. Hi what part of NC were you finding this stuff? not asking exact location,, thanks Jeff