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  • History saved! DIV XLIV was a success!

    I am back from one of my funnest trips yet, Diggin' In Virginia XLIV, at Fair Oaks Farm, in Jeffersonton Virginia! The scenery, the relics, the diggers, and the overall experience was awesome. Now that I am back in Kentucky, I almost feel homesick for my old home state. I'll put up a few pictures, and add some stories to them. I hope y'all like it!

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    The drive through Southern, West Virginia into Virginia is breath taking. We passed of parts of the New River, Saw huge mountains, and some of the prettiest farms you will ever see. We passed historic spots like Virginia Military Institute, where Stonewall Jackson was a teacher, Cyrus McCormick's farm, where he developed the reaper, Charlottesville and Culpeper which were huge centers of Civil War activity. Charlottesville was where I was born, and Culpeper is where I first lived. This pic was taken in just after the WV/VA border.


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    This was sunrise, the first morning of the dig. This is Fair Oaks farm, near Jeffersonton Virginia. It was established in 1838, and was the site of a decent sized artillery battle.


    As soon as the car stopped the first morning, I headed off towards the woods, not to be seen by my digging group until quitting time that night. I found nothing but iron square nails for hours, before somebody took me aside, and fixed my detector. I had it set for Kentucky soil, not the heavy ironized soil of Virginia. I thanked him, and immediately got a signal, which turned out to be a piece to an iron spur.

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    I walked about the hills, and woods for about five hours finding nothing but nails. I decided to walk to the far corner of the map, where A.P. Hill had his rebel headquarters. I walked for what seemed to be an hour, and then I found myself on the outskirts of Jeffersonton. I consulted my map, and concluded that I was at least 500 yards out of the boundary. I never saw the orange boundary flags. I walked past them while detecting. I got back in the lines of our dig, and fought my way through a jungle of briars until I found myself on a large hill, in a field.


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    There was a small house near the hill, so I detected there for about half an hour. I found about ten horseshoe half's, and five whole ones. I think a stable was nearby.


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    The tree's in Virginia grow pretty big, evidence to the fact that Virginia is a historic state. This tree was a little bigger than a sapling when rebel and yankee troops visited this house during the war.

    "The education of a man is never completed until he dies." Robert E. Lee

  • #2
    By the closing part of the first day, I was finding iron nails like crazy. I walked until I got to this big hill overlooking the Rappahannock river, and an opposing ridge. There was a guy there digging up something. I asked him if he found anything, and he said that there was " Canister, shrapnel and garbage, so I am moving on. I want brass stuff." No problem! I wanted war relics. I detected the hill for five minutes, and then got a good signal. I spent 20 minutes chasing the signal in the hole, (yeah, a pin-pointer is high on my wish-list now), and finally popped out a piece of case shot, or canister. I was thrilled! This was my first artillery artifact, and I was proud of it! This is what I came for!

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    When a canister shell was fired from a cannon, it exploded in mid air, sending lead or iron balls streaking down into the enemy columns. It was basically a giant shotgun, and it had a devastating effect. Lead canister shot was from the yankee side, and iron from the confederate side.

    I also found a piece of artillery shrapnel that had screw threads for the fuse in it. (not pictured)

    The first day ended with not a whole lot, but I had a blast digging the stuff that I did keep. One of the members of our digging group, a good family friend, dug a $600 Georgia state seal button earlier in the day.
    "The education of a man is never completed until he dies." Robert E. Lee

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    • #3
      The second day started much like the first: The car barely stopped, and I was already out into the distant fields. I walked to another section that I hadn't explored, and found zilch, not counting the 5,000,000 square nails. I kept on walking, and found a few more horseshoes before I snapped this picture.

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      I moved through creeks, over hills, dodged cow patties, and dug a few iron wazzits, before I decided to move to that hill where I found the case shot the night before. I got to the hill, got a good signal, and flipped this out of the dirt, pin-pointer not needed.

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      I was happy with this one! I detected for another two minutes, and got another good signal. I cut a plug in the dirt, and got out the pin-pointer I borrowed from a generous guy the previous night. I was surprised when a yankee three ringer came out!

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      I researched the hill, and supposedly the rebs were standing where I was, and the yankee's put artillery fire on them. Yankee infantry took pot shots at them from across the river as well.

      I decided to walk around and take a few more pictures. Besides, I had about 6-7 lbs. of unwanted iron to jettison back at the car.


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      This hill was hit with Yankee artillery. Nobody really found anything here because the grass clumps made it difficult to swing a detector.


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      I call this hill "Canister Ridge". Note that the first tree line is where the Rappahannock river is. Union infantry took pot shots at the rebs who were guarding this hill. The road was used by union cavalry as well.

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      Attached Files
      "The education of a man is never completed until he dies." Robert E. Lee

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      • #4
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        There were a lot of cows where I was. I am scared to death of cows, but I put my brave face on, and detected the hill anyway.

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        After about four hours of walking in the woods, (WHY!?) I decided to check out the creek. I talked to a guy whole found a Dyer artillery shell there. He let me hold it, and I was shocked to see how heavy it was. I found nothing at the creek, so at about 4 p.m., I headed back to Canister Ridge. I found another bullet, a case shot, and this huge piece of shrapnel.

        Sorry about the blur.

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        Fired bullet

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        Shrapnel, most likely from a Yankee Hotchkiss shell.

        I dug a piece of shrapnel at about 5:30, and decided to slowly walk back to the car.

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        The opposing ridge is where the Union army had some artillery.

        Quitting time for that day was 6:00 p.m. I thought quitting time was 7:30. I noticed that I was the only human being in the field, but thought nothing of it...

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        I was quite surprised to see a search party being assembled when I got back. "Who is the missing digger?" I asked. I ask some really stupid questions. Everybody got a laugh from it, and I didn't get in trouble. Somebody also ID'd a piece that I thought was trash too. He said it was part of a 12 lb. cannon ball. It was the back plate to a fuse, separating the fuse from the powder inside.

        All in all, day two was a great day.


        "The education of a man is never completed until he dies." Robert E. Lee

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        • #5
          I really didn't stop and take pictures on the third day. As soon as the car rolled to a stop, I made a beeline to Canister Ridge, with my dad in close pursuit. After we got a large iron signal in a small drainage creek, we took the pin pointer and decided that it was about the size of an artillery shell. We excitedly dug in the mud for about 20 minutes, and then we found out what it was. It was an 1840's-1850's axe head! It was a little bit of a let down, but still a great find. I spent the morning digging iron trash, while my dad dug a few bullets, and another guy dug a few flat buttons. I finally found a three ringer, and was happy with that. At noon, everybody heads to HQ and displays their weeks finds during lunch. I had about five minutes left, when I dug up a U.S. Sharps carbine bullet! My first cavalry find!

          We headed to lunch, and looked at the displays.

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          One of the two trailers full of relics found. Note that there are artillery shells on there as well.

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          My pathetic display.

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          Our good friend Don, found a sweet Georgia button. That thing was even better in person.
          "The education of a man is never completed until he dies." Robert E. Lee

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          • #6
            After the lunch, we set back out to Canister ridge. I found another case shot, and that was it for a long time.


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            I dug a two foot deep, by 6 feet long trench for what I thought was a musket barrel, but actually turned out to be a T- post after that.

            As the day was winding down, I stumbled onto a bit of luck. A Confederate artillery shell buried itself into the ground as it was fired, and exploded. I spent an hour digging twelve iron CS canister shot, and a bunch of fragments in a small ten foot circle. I also found another fuse plate thingie.


            As the sun went down on the third day, I said goodbye to Culpeper County. DIV is one of the best, and most fun experiences I will ever have, and I hope to go again.
            "The education of a man is never completed until he dies." Robert E. Lee

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            • #7
              Here are my finds from DIV XLIV.

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              Twelve iron case shot from an exploded artillery shell.

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              Fired Union bullets and Case shot.

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              Big pieces of shrapnel.

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              Little pieces of shrapnel.

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              Iron spur.

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              Chain used to tie the horses to the limber chests.
              "The education of a man is never completed until he dies." Robert E. Lee

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              • #8
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                The fuse plate thingies.

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                A nice horseshoe, and an 1860's hammer head. Note that it still retains some of the original wood.

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                An 1840's-50's axe head.
                "The education of a man is never completed until he dies." Robert E. Lee

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                • #9
                  I dug so much iron at DIV, that I acquired the nickname "Rusty".
                  "The education of a man is never completed until he dies." Robert E. Lee

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                  • #10
                    Thanks for the show Rusty ! I’m glad you had a good time.

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                    • #11
                      Looks like an awesome trip thanks for sharing your journey!

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                      • #12
                        I like that nickname.
                        Your pictures and narratives are fantastic my friend.
                        Despite the lack of brass artifacts you had a ton of fun, so bravo to you.
                        Bruce
                        In life there are losers and finders. Which one are you?

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                        • Kentucky point
                          Kentucky point commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Yeah, I was hoping for some brass. Old brass. I found a lot of shotgun shells.

                          The other guy who was with me, and my dad found a few flat buttons, so there was brass there. I just couldn't find it.

                        • 2ndoldman
                          2ndoldman commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I will be making a trip into the states in May. One of my stops is to visit with Johnny in Georgia, I might have time to stop by your place for a meet and greet. PM me your address.

                      • #13
                        Thanks for the show kp awesome man...

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                        • #14
                          Ethan that was a fantastic show of history through your eyes and hard work . I only see this in movies and books in school.
                          This was a very well presented historical adventure with an artistic flare to it with your camera abilities .
                          I really enjoyed this .
                          I really enjoyed the old farm house pic as well . The trees with the sun back lite .

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                          • #15
                            That’s a lot of digging Rusty but looks like you had a blast

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