Question of the Week: 11/12-11/18/18

Let’s talk about archaeology studies on Civil War battlefields… Do you have a favorite artifact, story, or experience?

Please note: Always know the rules and have proper authorization/permission before searching for artifacts! ECW does not encourage or condone illegal searching or activities.

6 Responses to Question of the Week: 11/12-11/18/18

  1. Wreck of the “Mary Celeste.”
    Although not a battlefield, this blockade runner was bound for Wilmington, NC with a cargo of Enfield Rifles when she attempted to stop at Bermuda, and hit a reef on 6 SEP 1864. Sinking to the pink-tinted sand in 50 feet of water, she came to rest upright, and was undisturbed for years (so the cargo remained mostly intact.) Once finally discovered, the ship was still recognizable, with both paddle wheels standing in place. Over time, currents and swells have broken the ship up a bit, but the paddle wheels and steam engine persist. That same action of swell and current sweeps away sand, revealing another P-53 Enfield or two, ever so often… of which the Government on Bermuda quickly takes possession. Many were on display, though not in very good shape, when I visited a few years ago.
    The following links reveal more detailed information: Dive of wreck recorded by JAM

  2. As a relic *hunter, I have 2 favorites:

    1. Recovering the first Minié ball from a battlefield where one of my ancestors was wounded and taken prisoner.
    2. Recovering a CSA cavalry sword pommel and a Confederate Script I button from a property once owned by a Confederate officer who served in the Stonewall Brigade and fought at Chancellorsville.

    *I hunt ONLY on private property with express permission of the landowner. I also share finds with landowners. I’ve never sold a relic I’ve recovered. I research them, preserve them and share their stories with others.

    “Without amateur souvenir collectors and relic hunters, the Smithsonian Institution might never have become the renowned network of museums that it is today.” ~ Collectors Weekly

  3. On the rare occasions that modern archeology is done @ Ellwood Manor, NPS graciously allows a representative of Friends of Wilderness Battlefield to attend and sometimes assist in minor labor. Early this Spring, a late snowfall coincided with planned archeology for future plumbing and the discovery of a circa 1866 photo depicting two two-story slave’s quarters and a 23 tree orchard. The post-college age lads were slogging their sensitive equipment with the bellies of the machines ploughing through the snow. Trudging through their repetitive, monotonous work, they appreciated more help than usual. One of the young gentlemen, I’d met previously, took much time, kindly explaining their processes and allowed me to feel I was part of it, overall.

  4. Wreck of “Mary Celestia”
    Although not associated with a battlefield, this blockade runner was enroute to Wilmington NC with a cargo of Enfield Rifles when she struck a reef near Bermuda on 6 SEP 1864 and settled, upright, to the pink-tinted sand below. Only covered by 60 feet of water, every so often an Atlantic storm directs currents against the wreck, scours away sand, and reveals another P-53 Enfield …which is promptly confiscated by Government of Bermuda. The best artifacts are on display at the National Museum of Bermuda (where I was happy to view the collected trophies, after diving the wreck — her distinctive paddle wheels still recognizable — on 24 APR 1986. For more info:

  5. Even though this story I am about to relate was that of a friend and his discovery, I thought it was worth telling. Back in 2017 this acquaintance of mine was up in Gettysburg, and after he ascended up the trail to the pinnacle of Little Round Top, a place by the way, he had visited many, many times he in the past. He walked along the well worn stone path to gaze upon the magnificent view of Devil’s Den and the fields and woods of the Gettysburg Battlefield below. He then for whatever reason, looked down and spied buried in the rocks and stones was an object that appeared to be spherical in shape. Out of curiosity, he picked up this object and low and behold, it appeared to be a Minnie ball! The nose was all mangled and distorted and bent to one side. It looked like that this bullet was fired and it hit, with some force, the rock formations on Little Round Top and fell to the ground. There is must have remained there for 154 years before it was accidentally picked up this individual. Upon a closer look at his find, he noticed that the bullet, instead of having the three rings on the side of the Minnie ball, as most bullets did have at the time, it appeared to have only 2 rings! After some research, he concluded that since the Confederacy did not have the technical ability to manufacture bullets with 3 rings, they could only produce them with two. So, he claimed that this must have been a projectile shot by a Confederate soldier, perhaps a Texas boy, in the assault on Little Round Top on 2 July, 1863. Anyway, it shows good.

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