As seen in the April 2001 edition of W&ET Magazine
On Those Unforgiving Grounds
By: Ed Fedory
It had been over two centuries earlier that the valley had known the sounds of cannon fire and the rattle of disciplined musketry. Two centuries since the cadenced march of Britain's Germanic allies' heavy boots... two centuries since the swift and near-soundless tread of deerskin moccasins on the soft valley floor. Still, in the timelessness of this rural and remote valley, little of consequence had changed during all those intervening years.
The team was able to recover nearly two dozen rifle and musket balls, a dozen buttons of various sizes, and some valuable insights into what the frontier colonial experience must have been like.
As I looked up from the valley floor to the heavily wooded surrounding slopes, I could sense that the blanket of leaves and pine needles had become a funeral shroud for some of the fallen during the course of the battle, and that their remains, the unnamed and unfound of both armies, rested in the soil's embrace for eternity. Despite the distant whine of passing traffic and the lowing of the pasture-bound cows, you could almost faintly hear the beat of the drums and the notes on a wooden fife across the centuries.
Except for the modern traffic along asphalt roads, the land had changed very little during the last two and a quarter centuries.
The rows of stalks did not parallel the road as they had in the earlier field, so we found ourselves searching from the edge of the asphalt to a point halfway up the slope, and then retracing our patterns back to the road in the adjoining row. Interestingly enough, when we began our search we noticed some small fragments of broken brick, and early shards of Colonial ceramics. We had found the site of one of the early roadside wooden dwellings indicated on the Revolutionary War era map.
As I continued to swing my coil between the stalks, I noticed that Joe was concentrating his hunt in a 50 square foot area close to the road. While I watched him dig his most recent target, he saw me across the field and held up another rifle ball. This was quickly turning into one of the best hunts we had ever had on the site!
A .50 caliber ball of Colonial innovation is flanked by two round balls of the same caliber. Also shown is an arrowhead fashioned from a copper pot.
Seeing me examining this latest find, Nate worked his search pattern over in my direction. I passed over the silver piece for his examination, and added that I couldn't wait to see the expression on Joe and Charlie's faces when they checked it out. I should have realized, at that point, that I was setting myself up!
Noticing some surface evidence in the form of broken pottery and pipe stems, the team concentrated on the suspected site of an early log dwelling.
The smile quickly slid from my face as Joe passed over a beautiful 1784 Spanish 2 reales for me to take a look at! All of the details were there. It was unscraped, unbent, and magnificent!
Buttons from the search were of brass and pewter, and varied in style and in size. Most of the rifle balls recovered were in the .50 caliber range.
Well, the sounds of musketry and cannon fire are long gone from that rural valley- but it will be a long time before the echoing laughter of that relic hunting team ever fades!