Menu

Constructing a Narrative with My Metal Detector – a Kentucky Civil War Moment

IMG_20151204_110825

This Union Breast plate was found among a scatter of musket balls – did the Union soldier rush a confederate raiding party?

I’m not a professional Archaeologist, and never will be.  But I respect and admire their work using the scientific method on projects, and endeavor to include some of that methodology in my hobby.  I hope to work with them as an avocational expert until I’m using my detector as a cane in old age.  Construction of hypothesis, gathering of evidence, interpreting results is a thrilling journey for me – paired with the field discovery of artifacts untouched since the solider who dropped them.  What I find is so much less important than what I learn.

I have been doing research (largely through conversations with the most amazing property owners I’ve ever met) on a large property with obvious, but little known Civil War action.  I feel great responsibility for my role in capturing information here, so I’m creating a pretty good data set – venturing hypothesis about what happened.  I look forward to packaging and presenting this to experts far more seasoned than I.

I have ambition to create a paper, built from an avocational detectorists’ point-of-view, with technology, social media identification and a few other methods I’ve developed to be vetted by regional experts and then Historical Archaeologists.   It’ll hilight errors and weaknesses in my approach as it is scrutinized, and I will learn from each one.  My next project will be that much better.  If my conclusions are compelling and fit into other narratives well,  it will be a great accomplishment for me personally, and hopefully for the avocational detectorist.  I will be proud to add information to the area’s story for future scholars and students to review and adjust.

A "wormed" 3-ringer bullet provides evidence of weapon loading at the site.

A “wormed” 3-ringer bullet provides evidence of weapon loading at the site.

For now, in the dirt, I’m spending time at the site, detecting areas with a plan, and capturing GPS using the higher-res GPS app that my Archaeologist friends have recommended.  A combination of woodland terrain and plowed fields have started, reluctantly,  to give up patterns of dropped, wormed and fired ammunition and button artifacts.  58 caliber musket balls*, 58 caliber 3-ringer bullets (some wormed and rammed,) 68 caliber 3-ringer bullets (thus far all dropped) along with Union Breast Plate and other Union buttons (one being Infantry, so far.)   After reading Matt Reeves’ paper on this, I’m wondering if the dropped bullets I’ve found were discarded due to being oversized.  (Thus, the micrometer on the holiday wishlist.)

*I’ll soon have a micrometer and take better measurements of each – to determine precise caliber as well as whether they are oversized.

These Union objects are mixed with the dropped musketballs, while the 3-ringer bullets are 100-150 yards away – in a strategic position to protect an outpost.   Were the confederates using these musketballs in an advance?  Were they taking pot shots at a Union party from the hillside?  Were they eventually rushed by the Unions and driven off?   Lots to be learned.

Here’s the live dig video

2015-12-09 09_28_48-Constructing a Narrative with My Metal Detector - a Kentucky Civil War Moment ..

To watch the video in HD (recommended!) click here.

My literary next step is to study Dr. Matt Reeves’ work on these battle environments here….

Here are some images from the weekend: [envira-gallery id=”3534″]