I found the charcoal layer by detecting this iron...... thing?
I continued to expand the fire pit, following the ash layer and checking the side walls with my pinpointer as I went along for metal targets. The dark charcoal layer was easy to follow, and the brown disturbed earth showed an excellent contrast to the hard clay walls surrounding the pit. In addition to the mystery iron object, I recovered an iron knife, parts of a horse shoe, and three iron four-hole buttons. The brass finds from the pit included a J hook, a knapsack triangle hook, two large belt studs, a poncho or tent grommet, and a coat size button back. The pit also contained a large number of broken glass shards, and I was able to reconstruct most of a bottle of John Gibson Sons Co’S / Choice Old / Bourbon Whiskey. What I particularly love about this bottle is how it is twisted and contorted by the heat of the soldier’s fire!
Reconstructed bourbon whiskey bottle melted from the fire.
The real find of the hut, though, is what detectorists refer to as a “pocket spill”. It’s a term usually used by coin-shooter looking for fairly modern coins, and refers to a small collection of coins found together. It’s not every day you run across a pocket spill from a Civil War soldier, though! This one consisted of three coins. The first is an Indian Head penny. The date is unreadable, but it certainly predates 1864 when the thickness of the penny was reduced to what we see today. The other two coins are a bit different, and certainly rank among my favorite finds of my detecting career.
Brass and copper finds from the hut.
At the onset of the war, private citizens began hoarding money for fear of economic turmoil. This began with gold and silver coins, and moved on to the hoarding of copper coins as well. This led to a shortage of coins in circulation, which was clearly a problem for businesses. As a result, some businesses took to minting their own coins, getting around counterfeiting laws by omitting any denomination and minting them as “patriotic tokens”, typically with pro-Union slogans or images. These non-currency coins ran afoul of the United States government who outlawed the practice in 1864. The two coins I found in my pit are patriotic Civil War tokens, minted with the same dimensions as a penny. One side of the coin reads “Pittsburgh Dry Goods Groceries Hardware & Notions”. The other side shows the image of a thistle plant with the slogan “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”. There are few detecting finds which embody the American Civil War to such an extent, and I fell blessed to have recovered them.
The hut coin spill.
Thank you so much to John and Rose and the entire DIV committee for the invitation and for putting on such a well run event. And thanks to you, my readers, for making it all the way through my long-winded posts! Hopefully I will have an opportunity to do some more digging soon, but with Spring ramping up work around the farm, well… I’ll see what I can do!
All my finds from the Brandy Rock fire pit!