Wednesday, March 23, 2016

DIV XXXIII - Beauregard Farm Day 1

Beauregard Farm, several thousand acres of rolling hills just north of the railroad in Brandy Station, Virginia, has got to be one of my favorite places on the planet.  The beautiful landscape which is so serene was home, in the winter of 1863-1864, to much of the Union army.  To this day, the items they left behind are still being saved from the ground by detectorists at the twice-annual Diggin' in Virginia invitational Relic hunt.  DIV XXXIII brought us back to Beauregard last week - and as always, I was amazed at what lay just beneath the surface.

I started out day one in my favorite part of the farm, the so-called 69 field.  DIV'ers use that rather obvious name thanks to the large number of 69 caliber buck and ball bullets and 69 caliber minie balls recovered there over the years.  To this day, the 69 field is the only spot I've ever been fortunate enough to find these 69 caliber three ringers, and added a few more over the course of the week.  Other finds here in the 69 field included some camp brass (a knapsack j-hook, waist belt keeper, scabbard finial), an eagle I infantry coat button, a war-era Indian head penny, and an interesting carved 69 caliber bullet.

My favorite find for the day was this odd piece of lead, a first for me.  This is a cone protector or nipple protector.  It was positioned over the nipple on the rifle, in the same place where a percussion cap would be located when firing.  It served a number of uses, including protecting the weapon from damage in case of dry fire, keeping dirt out of the nipple hole, and allowing a weapon to be safely carried while loaded.  The image below shows a manufactured brass nipple protector on a chain, but the placement would be the same for this field-produced lead version.

In the last 10 minutes of the day, I got a nice signal on the way back to the truck.  A nice deep three ringer came out of the hole, yet the solid low tone remained.  The second target was an general service eagle coat button.  Then another three ring bullet in the hole.  At this point I could see a bit of color change in the dirt, and I was sure I had located a soldier's hut if firebox.  These time capsules are my favorite part about the DIV winter camps, but with the sun rapidy setting I had to mark the hole and wait until the morning.  And you will have to wait too - I'm going to devote a separate post to the firebox.

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