Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cavalry Finds Part I

Welcome back!  So this is the second of my October - November catch-up posts, and the results from two trips out with the Pennsylvania boys.  Based on the finds, it was pretty clear we were in a cavalry camp.  I had a couple of good days, and my total results are pictured below before I talk about a few pieces in more detail.

The bullets are primarily Sharps, Spencer, and Burnside, the three most commonly used carbines during the Civil War, and all associated with cavalry units.  The Sharps carbine used a paper cartridge, and I will have a lot more to say about them in an upcoming blog post.  The Spencer and Burnside bullets used a brass cartridge.  Below is a picture of two Burnsides (top) and two Spencers (bottom) all with remnants of the brass cartridge intact.  The Burnsides are my very first of that type, and I always enjoy finding something I have never recovered before, even if their condition leaves a lot to be desired.

The combination of lead, brass, and gunpowder often leads to the corrosion of the thin brass walls of the cartridge in the ground over time.  This, combined with destruction from farming activity, typically results in only the lead bullet (often corroded at the base) and the round base from the cartridge case being found separately.  Occasionally when the case is separated from the bullet early enough and manages to evade the plow, a solid cartridge case can be found.  I am still looking for my first complete brass cartridge and bullet together (and its pretty high on my wish list!) I was able to create several "reconstructed" Spencer cartridges from bullets and casings found in this field.  Although they are obvious reconstructions, I think they turned out well enough, and portray what the complete cartridge would have looked like when it was dropped in that camp 150 years ago.

The brass wire fragments at the bottom right of the first picture are also associated with the weaponry of war.  These are broken bore brushes or cleaning jags, used to clean the inside of the gun's barrel to prevent fouling.  I have also included an image of a non-dug carbine bore brush from The Horse Soldier, with the bristles and leather strap (for passing through the barrel) intact.

This post has already started to get long winded (as I am wont to do), so I believe I will leave you in suspense about the big brass for now. So stay tuned to Detecting Saxapahaw for another catchup post from the Cavalry camp, and my finds from DIV XXXII!  Until then, happy hunting and God bless!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Silver in Saxapahaw!

Wow, what can I say guys and gals.  It's Relic Season, and I've been hitting it hard.  I've been blessed with a streak of luck lately, so I've got lots of new things to share here on the blog.  Rather than lump them all into one big unmanagble novel of a post, I will more likely break them up into several smaller posts.  But that doesn't mean I'm going to stop digging, either!  So keep checking back for more.

This past weekend I attended DIV 32 at Coles Hill in Stevensburg, Virginia.  I will have much more to say about that in the near future.  The finds were plentiful, including one hole that (in my opinion) turned out top be one of the top finds of my detecting career.

But first, I stopped by a site at home in Saxapahaw on the way out of town for a short pre-hunt to get me excited for some DIV action.  The home town did not disappoint!

I got a couple neat finds, including my first movable type printing letter and one musket ball, along with a lot of trash.  But two finds really stuck out above the rest.  The first is this amazing eagle hood ornament.  The condition is a little rough, but I think it is really cool.  I'm not an expert, but my brief research shows that it was from 1931-1932 model Chevrolet cars. Now that's an old ornament!  The style on it just really speaks to me, and I'm happy to have dug it.  If any readers have more information on that car, I'd love to learn more.

The find of the hunt is smaller than a hood ornament - a LOT smaller.  After plenty of trash targets, I was excited when one of my detectors high tones revealed the unmistakeable silver rim of an old coin in the hole.  I carefully pulled it from its resting place, and instantly realized how tiny this coin was.

What I had discovered was an 1853 seated liberty half dime.  "Now wait" I can hear you saying at home.  "Isn't a half dime a nickel?"

Well, not always!  The nickel five cent piece wasn't introduced until 1865 amid the silver shortages that followed the Civil War.  Prior to that, five cent coins had been made of silver, called a half dime (or earlier, half disme.). These are tiny little coins, literally half the silver content of a dime.  In fact, the half dime is considered by many to be the first official coinage produced by the United States back in 1792.

This seated liberty pattern of half dime was introduced in 1837 and continued until 1873.  For the numismatists reading, this is the 1853 Philadelphia mint with stars and arrows, the most common of the four subtle design changes produced in that year.

Thanks again for checking out my blog, and stay tuned.  I've got a big announcement coming up at the first of the year for an exciting new detecting adventure.  And I'll keep the blog posts coming until then.  Happy Hunting, and God Bless!