Thursday, December 10, 2015

DIV XXXII - Homecoming Hunt at Cole's Hill Part I

I once again returned to Culpeper, VA for the fall invitational Diggin' in Virginia hunt in November.  For me, this particular hunt had a special significance - we were going back to Cole's Hill.  You see, it was in these same fields four years prior that I attended my first DIV event, #19, and I haven't missed one since.  It was in a small field beside Hansbrough ridge that I made my single greatest Civil War recovery, the Virginia belt plate.  It was there in Stevensburg that I truly felt I could count myself a "relic hunter", and focused my efforts on searching for the artifacts of the War between the States.  And it was there - in the hotel, in the carpool, at the pre-hunt meeting, at the barbeque, and among the hills and fields - that I met friends who changed my life.  Many of those same friends would join me now, four years later, for another chance to save some history on Cole's Hill.

My quantity of finds increased pretty dramatically since the last time I hunted here, and I can certainly attribute that to my trusty GPX4800.  Don't get me wrong, I clearly did well with the duct-tape-dfx, but having the right tools to cut through the mineralized red clay made a world of difference.

On the first day we decided to try out the new front fields.  The finds were there, but seemed to be scattered about.  I eventually found myself wandering back to the " old" new field from DIV 19, and found a fair number of Sharps bullets.  While I turned left, most of my friends turned right, and it paid off.  Brian quickly pouched a US box plate, and my friend Phil recovered the holy grail of Relic hunting - a soldier's ID disc!

Day two saw me in the field by the pond, near where the Virginia buckle was found.  I did get into a small patch loaded with bullets, and spent half a day cleaning up a living room sized area of deep lead.  This included several excellent carved and half-melted bullets, which I love to find even more than drops.  They provide such tangible evidence of camp life and the men who were there.  My favorite of these lead pieces is a soldier-made four hole button, carved from lead.  I can just imagine him whittling it down to replace a lost trouser button.

Also in this area, I found my best brass relic from the hunt.  This is the back end of a spur, worn on the heels of the boot to command a horse to move while mounted.  Thanks to the "ID me" relic identification page on Facebook, we found this example of an identical spur from the Mount Vernon collection, listing a production date of 1795-1850.  This would not have been a regulation issue spur, but rather a civilian model that could easily have been purchased by a Confederate or Federal officer or cavalryman.

The second half of day two I traveled to the apex of Cole's Hill.  What a view!  Can you imagine waking up to that every morning?  I also recovered a few minie balls here but failed to find that elusive dug in hut.

On day three I worked a small swale near the old pond, and continued to pull out deep bullets, button backs, a j hook, and four large brass studs.  I noticed that the latter produced a double-hit much like a nail, but with zero blanking.  I wonder what other targets might be missed by skipping those non-blanking double hits.

It was here, just before lunch, that I got a deep bullet signal that lead me to the best find of the hunt, and one I'm not likely to repeat.  But I'm going to leave you in suspense for now (if you didn't already see it on a relic forum).  Check back in for more pictures and a detailed account.  Thanks for reading, happy hunting and God bless!

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