Wednesday, April 2, 2014

DIV XXVII: Brandy Rock Farm Part 1

I really can’t say enough what a special place Brandy Rock Farm is, and how privileged I feel to have been able to attend two DIV events on this historic property.  Brandy Rock was the home of the Union 6th Corps during the winter of 1863 to 1864.  The hunt started with a heavy blanket of snow over the fields, left over from the snow during the Spillman Farm hunt two days prior.  Warmer temperatures came in and melted the snow quickly, leaving everything coated in a sticky reddish-brown mud on day one.  Yuck!
Brandy Rock in the mud!

My finds were less numerous than they have been in the past, but DIV XXVII was one of the most fun times I’ve had in this hobby.  I tried to start in a known Confederate area with my friend Keith, but quickly abandoned that tactic, as the targets were simply too deep under the snow and grass for my VLF machine to hear.  Instead I went back where I left off at the end of the last Brandy Rock hunt – the field by the headquarters tent.  It didn’t take long before I found myself in a shallow fire pit with a very strong ash line.  I spent much of the day exploring the fire pit, following the charcoal line and checking for signals.  I’ll tell you more about those finds further along, but I recovered some of my favorite relics of my detecting career in that soldier’s fire.

Phil on "Wisconsin Hill"
My good friend Phil got into several pits in the area near headquarters.  One of the highlights of my hunt was watching him pull bullet after bullet from the bottom of a two foot hole.  The total was 20 three ring bullets exactly, along with neatly stacked percussion caps.  Congrats again, that was a great find!  Later, Phil also pulled an iron tube-like object out of another deep hole on the same hill.  He showed it to me, commenting that it looked like a scabbard of some kind, and wanted to know if I had the desire to dig up the bottom piece several feet in the ground.  Now that was a deep hole!  Of course I jumped on the chance, and sure enough I recovered the iron scabbard drag at the bottom.  I expanded the hole outward, and recovered several iron buckles and a knapsack hook, but not much else before reaching hard packed clay on all sides.  I was also gifted a pile of broken glass from another one of Phil’s huts, which I was able to reassemble into a mostly complete Dyottville Glassworks Co. Phil. Patent whiskey bottle.  Thanks again, Phil!

Sword scabbard and reconstructed whiskey bottle

Surface hunting in that same area yielded several more bullets, knapsack parts, and three coat buttons – two eagle I infantry coat buttons and one New York coat button.  On day two, I went with my friends Phil, Todd, and Brian to detect near Farley House.  Built in 1790, Farley was occupied by both armies and used as the headquarters for the Union 6th Corps winter encampment.  Phil found quite a few bullets in this field, but my finds were less plentiful – one small pistol bullet and a large grapeshot or canister shot for a cannon.  Brian and Todd both found canister shot balls of the same caliber, so there clearly must have been artillery near by.  Todd had the best find in the field near Farley, a Richmond cavalry spur.  It really gave me chills to be searching for artifacts so close to such a historic piece of architecture, walking around close to where the famous picture of General Sedgwick on the Farley house steps was taken.  Even without a lot of finds, taking the time to appreciate that location was definitely worth it.  On the third day I went up to “Wisconsin Hill” with this same group of friends, and here I recovered one bullet and an iron sling attachment for a rifle.  I also got into a pit loaded with some of the darkest charcoal I’ve run across, and iron signals galore, but after much effort (and moving many HUGE stones to get to the ash layer underneath), the only thing I got for my trouble was square nails and mud!  You can’t win em all!
Todd detecting in front of Farley House

Oh right, the pit on day one!  This post has gotten long enough, so I’ll just have to leave you in suspense!

My finds from Brandy Rock Farm, not including the fire pit.

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