Saturday, June 7, 2014

Last Two Hunts — Confederate Bonanza

This is a short update with fairly poor quality photos but I wanted to post so that folks were aware that the blog was still active.  I have a rather large backlog of stuff coming but the demands of work and fatherhood have put me behind.

Be that as it may, I have had a few chances to get out recently and the last two hunts have yielded some pretty exciting finds included three Confederate buttons.

North Carolina "Sunburst" Button
The first button, found a week ago, was this NC Sunburst.  It was in an area that I'd hunted many times before but the field had been recently mowed.  I found this with the Teknetics T2 SE in all metal search mode running at 94 sensitivity in the 2+ audio setting.  Depth was pretty shallow, about 6".  This is now the fourth NC Sunburst button I've found at this particular site.

An unusual item was near this button.  It's a fairly ornate gilded, stamped brass object that resembles a cotton bole.  In the photo below, I think it's actually oriented incorrectly.  The stem should be at the bottom.  I have no idea what this piece is but it was found in a section of the field where the only other relics were Civil War related.

On this same hunt, I also recovered a threaded brass partial disc.  I had a suspicion that it might be artillery related and posted it to Treasurenet where "TheCannonballGuy," an expert in Civil War artillery, confirmed my hunch:

"It appears to be a brass CS-made Bormann fuze support-plug. The version you found is a very rare variation, having a "screwdriver-slot" instead of two round spanner-wrench holes for screwing it into the shell's fuzehole. That particular version was made from early-1863 onward.
Sidenote:Based on examining hundreds of US-made and CS-made Bormann-fuzed shells which have ben sawed in half, the brass underplugs are CS-made, and the iron ones are US-made. But of course, as with any rule, there always seem to be a few exceptions to the rule."

As I've mentioned before, I log the GPS coordinates of everything I find so, armed with the information about the identity of this relic, I can return to the exact spot where it was found and hopefully recover additional artillery fragments.

Finally, I found another rare button:  A North Carolina State Seal.

Unfortunately, it's in rather poor condition and the back mark was illegible.  Here's what one in excellent condition looks like.

One week later, I returned to the same site.  But this time, I brought the GPX 4800 along thinking I would retrace my steps from the week before and see if there were any relics deeper than I could hear with my Teknetics T2.  

Unfortunately, EMI from the pasture fence was so strong that I had to put the GPX in "cancel" mode just to be able to use it.  Cancel mode does a great job of making the ear-splitting beeps of an electric fence go away, but it does so at the cost of depth.  So I wasn't very optimistic about finding anything new.  Boy, was I wrong.

My first signal was this.

CS Script "I" Infantry Button
Yep, that's a Confederate Manuscript "I" Infantry Button.  It was just a few yards away from where the Sunburst was found the week before.  This is a British-made button and was imported during the war, almost certainly through the port of Wilmington, just as the Block R Rifleman button I found at this site last year.

There was more.  I moved to another location in the field, one that had only been cursorily surveyed in the past, and got a strong, shallow signal on the T2 —estimated depth was 5" and the VDI was high seventies, low eighties.  I told myself it was almost certainly a modern cartridge casing as the farmer, I knew, had used that location to hunt from.

But to my surprise, out of the hole came a wonderful, dropped .58 caliber minié ball.  I recorded the location, put it in my relic case, and ran the detector over the hole one more time before filling it in.  "BEEP."  Another target, high seventies!  Pulling out my pinpointer, I put it in the bottom of the hole and sure enough, there was another minié.  

Two miniés and where they lay for 149 years.

This was the first time I'd ever found more than one bullet in the same hole and a good reminder to "always check your hole."

Ultimately, I dug seven bullets in this very small spot.  I love finding dense concentrations of relics.  Not only is it fun to dig one after another in such close proximity, but it also tells you that, at that exact spot, a soldier or soldiers spent some time.  In this case, that was in mid April, 1865.  The next day, those soldiers and approximately 80,000 of their Northern cohorts moved in three vast wings into the city of Raleigh.

Note:  All relics recovered on private property by permission of landowner.  The location of all relics is precisely recorded with a handheld GPS unit.