The first piece is this round brass ring, a rein guide (or terret) from a pulling horse harness. This piece isn’t strictly a Civil War relic, as it may have been used on civilian or military cart horse harnesses, and could predate or postdate the war. It is certainly possible, however, that it may have been used on any of the thousands of wagon-loads of ammunition, food, and supplies bound for the soldier’s camps we were detecting. The reins used to control the horses pulling the wagon would have passed through the rein guide to keep them from becoming tangled. I have also included a picture (thanks to CBG at Treasurenet for finding this one) of a modern horse harness showing the rein guides in use.
The second brass piece is a D ring from a sword belt rig. It was found in the same Union cavalry camp where my sword belt plate was recovered last year, along with several others. I have also included a picture of an original sword belt with D rings attached (near the price tag).
My final brass item is this great “Eagle I” infantry coat button. The letter I in the shield denotes the branch of service – I for infantry, A for artillery, C for cavalry (or a few other less common letters like R, D, and V). The letters were replaced with a lined shield design prior to the war for enlisted men, but the lettered buttons were still used by Union officers as well as Confederate soldiers using old button stocks during the war.
I also dug an interesting piece of pewter, which was a first for me and one of my favorite finds of the entire hunt. It doesn’t look like much, and the condition leaves a lot to be desired, but this is a pewter spout from a canteen. Soldiers would sometimes carve their name or initials into the spout, but deterioration from being buried for so long has eroded any letter that may have once been there. Dug pewter can be very fragile, so this piece will be preserved to prevent further flaking. I have also included a picture of an original M1858 canteen from the Ridgeway Reference Archive including the pewter spout.
Thanks again for reading! Stay tuned for the next installment, the dug iron. Trust me, it’s more exciting than it sounds.