As seen in the June 2002 edition of W&ET Magazine
From The Barnyard To The Battlefield
By: Ed Fedory
There's one factor about relic hunting that never seems to change, and that's the fact that you never seem to know what's going to be found in the bottom of that next hole. It doesn't seem to matter much if it's a new site, or one that you have searched a dozen times...
Sections of the field were covered with a thick stubble of harvested cornstalks, making the search more challenging.
... you can always sense that the day is bound to have at least a couple of surprises in store for you. Add to the equation the fact that you're using a new detector, and even well-hunted sites assume a kind of magical mantle. The secrets of long ago will be revealed... the shrouds of the past will be rent asunder... all that kind stuff. Well, let's just say that you might hit the fields with a little more optimism, and leave it at that.
Several Colonial buttons, a ramrod tip, and numerous musket and rifle balls were found at the site of the old fort.
The identification of the object was easy, as I'd recovered similar specimens on relic hunts at French & Indian War sites years earlier. To most people it would appear to be a very heavy ball of dirt, but I knew immediately that I was holding a round of grapeshot. These were never fired one round at a time, so I knew the chances were good that more grapeshot might be found in the area. Tightening up my search pattern, I was able to recover three more pieces of grape in a 20 square foot area.
A new harvest of relics was recovered on the sorely hammered site of a stockade fort dating from the 1780s.
We decided to spend the remaining hour of the hunt searching our way back in the direction of the truck. I hadn't gone more than 50 yards from where I'd dug the grapeshot, when my detector sounded off like I had swung the coil over a garbage can lid. All I could imagine was a horseshoe, or a piece of lost farm equipment just below the surface of the coil. I was half right.
While discrimination canceled out most of the small ferrous stuff, larger iron artifacts such as a mortar bomb fragment and a frizzen spring from a musket remained readily detectable.
That late Saturday's lengthening shadows found a couple of happy relic hunters homeward bound. And while our collecting bags rarely seem to be filled as much as we would like them to be, the musketballs, cannon and mortar rounds, buttons and other fragmentary Colonial odds and ends we had recovered were enough to make for a successful hunt and keep the dreams of future relic hunts alive.
For many people Sunday mornings are for sleeping in, big breakfasts, reading the newspaper, and later, watching football. Some might even consider it un-American to rise before dawn, grab a strong cup of coffee, throw the paper in the trash, and make sure the television is turned off before hopping into the truck and heading down the road. That's pretty much my kind of Sunday. Well, at least it's been that way since I bought the farm.
I never realized it before, but a barn, with its massive size and vast space, is a place where a man can work, relax, or dream. I spent months cleaning and working on the interior before I decided to check the lawns and fields with my detector.
Even that last statement has to be qualified a bit, I guess, as it's not quite a farm- yet. I bought one of America's great architectural wonders. It has wide open spaces with all of the room a man might need to move around in, and think big thoughts. Elbow room for body, mind, and spirit, so to speak. It's massive... it's red... and it sits on 16 acres of the most beautiful land my boots have ever trod upon. I guess every guy must feel the same way about his barn!
Since the barn had been constructed in the early 1870s, I knew that the former owners and workers must have dropped a number of items besides horse and ox shoes, but I didn't expect such a wide variety. Targets ranged from a dairy association lapel pin and a couple of large cents to an NRA medal and Indian Head cents.
Deciding to search the back fields, far from the barn, was pretty much a mistake. For every keeper, I dug ten rifle or shotgun slugs, along with an assortment of aluminum arrow shafts and the scattered debris of what must have been, in long decades past, the farm dump.