Most Read: Local

Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 04/01/2011

Civil War relic hunting in snow

cannon-lowres.jpg
A Civil War cannon was fired to start the Diggin' in Virginia spring relic hunt in Culpeper, Va. last Sunday. A thick coating of snow covered the ground and light snow fell during the first few hours of the hunt. The total snow accumulation in Culpeper was 1.25".

This past Sunday, I joined the Diggin’ in Virginia spring relic hunt in Culpeper, Virginia. The weather was anything but springlike, however, as the first day of the hunt began with the ground covered by an inch of wet snow and light snow falling steadily from the sky. The weather did not deter over 200 relic hunters who had signed up for the event and the hunt continued without a weather delay.

For this spring hunt, a farm in Culpeper was leased for metal detecting. The relics found in the hunt were dropped by Union and Confederate soldiers that either camped on the site or traveled across the site. None of the relics were planted by the organizers. It was fairly challenging to find the relics, especially with the snow, but most hunters found at least a few bullets and buttons to bring home as keepsakes from the Civil War.

Read below to see more snowy photos from the hunt and to see a few of my finds.

start-lowres.jpg
Relic hunters wait in the snow for the start of the hunt. Both Union and Confederate soldiers camped on the site. relichunters-lowres.jpg
Relic hunters sweep their metal detectors across a field in Culpeper, Virginia. The Diggin in Virginia hunt brought over 200 relic hunters to a private farm that was leased for the hunt. Most of the relics found during the hunt were lost by Civil War soldiers while they camped on the site. field-lowres.jpg
A close-up of the snow accumulation on the ground. Digging a hole in the snow-covered ground was a bit sloppy and it didn't take long for a relic hunter's shovel and gloves to become wet and covered with a layer of mud. detector-lowres.jpg
I wrapped my metal detector in a plastic bag to keep out moisture from the melting snow. The latest generation of metal detectors can find a small item like a button up to a foot deep and large item like a belt buckle up to two feet deep. bullet-lowres.jpg
A Civil War bullet found in the hole from the previous photo. This bullet is called a Minie ball or three-ringer. The ground was particularly moist and soft from our recent rain storms. buttons-lowres.jpg
Two freshly dug Civil War buttons displayed on the melting snow. Most of the snow melted by noon on Sunday.


A collection of confederate solider bullets and a confederate soldier infantry button that I found during the hunt.

newyork-lowres.jpg
I found this New York coat button soon after the snow melted. After cleaning it with lemon juice I found that there are still traces of gilt on the face of the button. I was not lucky enough to find a Civil War belt buckle during this hunt but a few Union soldier and Confederate soldier buckles were dug by other hunters. bottle-lowres.jpg
My best find of the hunt was this Civil War period food bottle. Metal detectors cannot find glass, of course, but the soldiers often discarded their bottles in deep holes with iron ration cans. I metal detected a large iron signal and dug almost two feet into the ground to find this bottle with a grouping of ration cans. Since it was below the plow zone it remained unbroken for almost 150 years.

By  |  11:30 AM ET, 04/01/2011

Categories:  History, Latest, Photography

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company