Friday, June 26, 2015

Colonial Silver - Spoils of War?

Hey ya'll!  I know it's been a while.  I still have some cool stuff from way back in January that I haven't posted up here... but I'm working on it.  But I just had to share this latest hunt with you all!  I tried three new spots with my friend Dustin a few days ago.  The first two didn't pan out, but persistence pays off!

I ended up with quite a few Civil War bullets, mostly Colt pistol.  I'm not sure what the small carved bullet on the right started out as, but I always like finding carved lead.  The three bullets on the left are for the Merrill carbine. We're hoping that we can use these less common (though I'd stop well short of saying rare) bullets combined with what we know of the site to narrow down whose camp we are in, of the several units who were known to have been in the area.  The camp probably extends outward in one of three directions, but we will need permission from other landowners (and less vegitation!) before we can fully investigate.


As for brass, I found my second kepi hat buckle, two button backs, one incredibly fragile General Service eagle button, and two early flat buttons.  One is a large copper button, fairly thin and plain.  The other is a smaller, probably a bit later, and has a nice silver wash.  It should clean up well.  Dustin also found a beautiful silvered colonial dandy button with a star design, as well as some more Civil War relics.

Ok, enough suspense, on to the REALLY good stuff!  My find of the hunt was this plow damaged silver spoon.  Although the condition leaves a lot to be desired, It's one of my favorite recoveries of my detecting career.  I searched for more pieces of the spoon bowl, but the ones I did find were scattered over a surprisingly large area by farming activity.  The spoon handle has an ornate monogrammed letter "A".  From our research into the site beforehand, we knew the family that owned the farm during the war lived in a nearby home since the late 1700's... and their surname started with that same letter "A".  I think it is highly likely that the two are connected, but of course we will never know for certain.

The spoon is also hallmarked by the maker on the back - the letters "HW" in a rectangle with triangle cutouts on the sides. UPDATE: We initially thought this spoon was the work of a New York silversmith, but it turns out it was crafted more locally.  It was made by Henry White of Fredericksburg, Virginia some time prior to 1827.   What an incredible hobby!!


I'll close with one last bit of speculation.  I do know approximately where the home site is located, and it is down the road a distance from the field we were detecting.  It's likely that the early flat buttons we recovered were from farming activities in the fields over the years.  It's also quite possible that the colonial spoon was lost in that field in a similar manner - the owners were having a meal in the field and it lay there for the next 200 years.  But is there another explanation?  I do have one primary source document that mentions that the house was looted by Yankee cavalry during the war.  The stolen goods were returned, but is it possible that this silver spoon was taken as spoils of war and left in camp?  I also know that the cavalrymen who did the looting were armed with Merrill carbines.  So there is some evidence that lends credence to this theory.  Of course, it is all speculation, and we will probably never know.  But it is interesting to think about.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates on past (and upcoming) expeditions into our nation's history.  Stay safe, happy hunting, and God bless.

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