Snowy search: How the weather altered a Civil War relic hunt (PHOTOS)

A relic hunter bends down in the snow to dig a signal, March 25, 2014. (Kevin Ambrose)

A relic hunter bends down in the snow to dig a signal, March 25, 2014. (Kevin Ambrose)

I felt the snow flakes fall down the back of my neck as I reached into the hole to pull out a broken Civil War bayonet.  The snow depth in the pasture was surpassing two inches and the conditions were getting very sloppy.  I had recently dug three Vermont buttons and a couple of Civil War bullets but the snowy conditions were making it very difficult to relic hunt.

I was part of the 10 year Diggin’ in Virginia anniversary relic hunt held near Culpeper, Virginia last week.  It was supposed to be a spring relic hunt but the conditions were more like mid-winter on Tuesday, March 25.  The snow fell in heavy sheets and the temperature hovered near freezing.  Four inches of snow accumulated during one of the hunt days.

My biggest issue with the snow during the hunt was that the head (or loop) of my metal detector quickly formed a giant snowball as I scanned it back-and-forth across the ground.  The snowball that formed on the detector’s loop was quite heavy and I had to knock the detector against my leg every minute or so to clear the snow.  If the temperature had been a few degrees colder the snow would have fallen off of metal detectors and clothing.  Instead, the temperature hovered near 32 or 33 degrees and the snow stuck to everything.

Visibility is low as relic hunters spread across the field in pursuit of Civil War artifacts, March 25, 2014. (Kevin Ambrose)

Visibility is low as relic hunters spread across the field in pursuit of Civil War artifacts, March 25, 2014. (Kevin Ambrose)

For the relic hunt, a farm near Culpeper, Virginia was leased for metal detecting and excavation.  The relics and bottles found during the hunt were left behind by Union and Confederate soldiers that either camped, fought, or traveled across the site.  None of the relics were planted by the hunt organizers.

There have been many relics found on the farm but I have only included a small set of relic photos in this post.  The hunt organizers, however, have meticulously documented every artifact that has been dug during the hunts and recorded photos of the finds.

Marc Sciance digs a Civil War trash pit with a canopy overhead to keep out the snow, March 25, 2014. (Kevin Ambrose)

Marc Sciance digs a Civil War trash pit with a canopy overhead to keep out the snow, March 25, 2014. (Kevin Ambrose)

It was fairly challenging to find relics in the snow but most hunters found at least a few bullets and buttons to bring home as keepsakes from the Civil War.  The hunt is as much about camaraderie as it is about finding a relic.  The snow just made the event a little more memorable.

This past winter season has been very unusual.  I think it’s safe to say that next year the Diggin’ in Virginia spring relic hunt will have more spring-like conditions.   Four inches of snow on March 25 in Culpeper, Virginia is almost as rare as digging a Confederate belt buckle.  Well, maybe not this year, but in most other years.

Related: Civil War relic hunting in snow

Marc Sciance holds a Civil War flask that he just unearthed in a trash pit, March 25, 2014. (Kevin Ambrose)

Marc Sciance holds a Civil War flask that he just unearthed in a trash pit, March 25, 2014. (Kevin Ambrose)

Civil War period bottles found by Marc Sciance during the dig.

Civil War period bottles and pipes found by Marc Sciance during the dig.

A relic hunter poses in the snow, March 25, 2014.

A relic hunter poses in the snow, March 25, 2014.

Mike Null found this beautiful silver identification shield.

Mike Null found this beautiful silver identification shield.

A broken Civil War bayonet is visible at the bottom of the hole. Inset is a complete Civil War bayonet. (Kevin Ambrose)

A broken Civil War bayonet is visible at the bottom of the hole. Inset is a complete Civil War bayonet. (Kevin Ambrose)

Frosty the relic hunting snowman, March 25, 2014. Metal detector pinpointers are the arms, a horse shoe is the mouth, and Civil War bullet is the left eye. (pakkrat)

Frosty the relic hunting snowman, March 25, 2014. Metal detector pinpointers are the arms, a horse shoe is the mouth, and Civil War bullet is the left eye. (pakkrat)

 

Civil War relics and a USA hospital bottle found by Ron Rigney.

Civil War relics and a USA Hospital Department bottle found by Ron Rigney.

Digging in the snow, March 25, 2014. (Kevin Ambrose)

Digging in the snow, March 25, 2014. (Kevin Ambrose)

Two Civil War bullets that were dug in the snowy conditions are displayed on a log, March 25, 2014. (Kevin Ambrose)

Two Civil War bullets that were dug in the snowy conditions are displayed on a log, March 25, 2014. (Kevin Ambrose)

The author poses in the snow, March 25, 2014.

The author poses in the snow, March 25, 2014.

The author found these Vermont buttons and Union infantry buttons during the hunt. (Kevin Ambrose)

The author found these Vermont buttons and Union infantry buttons during the hunt. (Kevin Ambrose)

Matthew Vaughn dug this CS tongue portion of a two piece belt buckle during one of the sunny days of the hunt, March 24, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

Matthew Vaughn dug this CS tongue portion of a two piece belt buckle during one of the sunny days of the hunt, March 24, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

The author found this South Carolina belt plate and Civil War buttons on the same farm during a previous Diggin' in Virginia spring relic hunt. (Kevin Ambrose)

The author found this South Carolina belt plate and Civil War buttons on the same farm during a previous relic hunt. (Kevin Ambrose)

The author found this Union eagle shoulder belt plate on the same farm during a previous hunt. (Kevin Ambrose)

The author found this Union eagle shoulder belt plate on the same farm during a previous hunt. (Kevin Ambrose)

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