A three and half day trip to Virginia produced a few more civil war relics as indicated by the finds below. To say the finds are getting scarce is an understatement. Gone are the days of digging 100 plus bullets along with a few buttons. You have to work hard now to find the bullets and finding fifteen bullets a day now is considered a good day.
I arrived on the property of my uncles around 11:30 in the morning. After exchanging the latest family news, I got down to some serious relic hunting. I was using my White's XLT in the Relic mode with a few modifications...the DC Sensitivity was bumped up to 40, the AC Sensitivity bumped up to 70, Pre-Amp Gain was bumped up to 4, and the Audio ID was turned off. This way I could hear all signals. With the Audio ID turned off, the XLT will detect the deeper targets that cannot be detected if if was turned on. I would estimate a minimum of 4" of extra depth is obtained.
One other note. This time around I was hunting alone. My buddy Jeff Herke was down near Petersburg detecting for relics in an organized hunt on private property.
I made my way down the back of the property and decided to try an area that had produced lots of bullets this past spring for both me and Jeff. With the detector set up and ready to go, it wasn't long before I got my first hit...a .44 caliber pistol bullet down around 6 inches. Pretty soon the three ringer .58 caliber bullets made their appearance. Thirteen in all. A flat button gave a solid reading at 8 inches and ten feet ahead another reading produced the back of a button. Two hits, two buttons (or parts thereof).
After hunting to around 5:00pm I made my way back to the house and picked up a nice musket ball. This brought the total to 15 bullets and two buttons for the first day. Nice way to start!
Friday morning I hit the field by 7:30am. Today I decided to detect on top of a small hill just on the other side of a small creek that runs across the property. Walking down the left side of the property I decided to metal detect my way over to the hill. It wasn't long before the detector sounded off and the first find of the day was a musket ball. Not two feet from this find I found a first (for me anyway) on the property. It was a very small round ball, part of a "buck and ball" that was used during the war. It was basically a musket ball with three smaller balls behind it. Their purpose was to inflict bodily harm at close range. After making it up to the hill the area flattened out to about 50 yards by 25 yards. I hunted a nice tight pattern and bullets and brass started popping out of the ground. I couldn't go three feet without getting a signal, good or bad. I found a total of 5 three ringer .58 caliber bullets, 2 more balls for a "buck and ball", two musket balls, 3 splatters or pieces of bullets, 1 knapsack J hook, 1 rivet, 1 partial saber hanger, and 1 brass belt adjuster. All total for the day was 11 bullets, 3 splatters, and 4 pieces of brass.
Saturday was a hard day to find bullets. I took my uncle's advice and hunted a corner of the property that had given up some good relics in the past. I hunted an area about 100 foot square and found three .44 caliber Colt army revolver bullets, one Williams cleaner, and one .54 caliber Merrill's carbine bullet. Hunting further out from this area produced four more .58 three ringers, one musket ball, one ball (buck and ball), one eagle button in bad shape, and three splatters of lead from either bullets or molds. All total for the day was 11 bullets and the button.
It took a huge effort to find bullets on Sunday. I decided to hit the same area that I detected on Friday, the area across the creek on higher ground. I worked a tight pattern and started where I left off. I walked about 30 feet and and got a solid signal that turned out to be another .58 caliber three ringer. This bullet was a little more special than your ordinary three ringer. It had the raised star up inside the bullet cavity. The star denotes the Washington D.C. arsenal.
The next signal turned out to be part of a knapsack hook set (the triangular part). Three more three ringers made the light of day as well as another musket ball and one small shot that would make up a buck and ball. Another signal turned out to be another triangular knapsack hook. A little bent, but a nice find. Working my way towards the fence boundary I popped up an unknown piece of lead (or so I thought). At first I thought it was a lead seal that they put on cows ears for identification. I threw it in my pouch and continued on. The next signal blasted my ears. The signal was telling me it was three inches down and was a solid 45 on the VDI scale. I didn't need my shovel for this dig. I cut a half round circle, plopped it over and staring at was a nice eagle button with the I in the middle of the shield (Infantry). It was getting late in the afternoon so I started to make my way back up the hill to the house. On the way up I picked up another pistol bullet. It looks like another .44 caliber. I ended the day with 7 bullets and some good pieces of brass. The unknown lead piece looks like a pewter canteen spout. Mangled, but still a good find.
Total for three and half days was 44 bullets, a few buttons, knapsack hooks, J hooks, brass adjuster and a few splatters of lead. I had a great time and can't wait to hit it again this spring.
<--- Buck and Ball - This musket load, to be relied on in a defensive situation, was made up of 3 .31 caliber buckshot bound on top of a .69-caliber, smoothbore musket ball and was encased in a paper cartridge like those used with the Minie bullet. The .69 caliber musket (most often found in Confederate ranks, but not preferred) was an inaccurate weapon that could be converted to good use at close range with this load. The use of the buck and ball was not common.
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