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!

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