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  • Writer's pictureTim Murphy

Diggin' In Virginia XXXII: Coles Hill

This relic hunt took place back on November 15-17, 2015, but I'm sending this story out now in anticipation for a busy March. Coles Hill was the site of Federal winter encampments during the Civil War. On the outskirts of the property we hunted, there were smaller, sparser Confederate camps. We couldn't have asked for better weather for this hunt--sunny and in the mid-50s all three days. Perfect digging weather if I do say so myself.

Coles Hill and the Federal Encampment

After the pre-hunt meeting on Day 1, I hiked out to a field where there were known Confederate encampments. Not nearly ten minutes after arriving in the field, I pulled out a fired Gardener. Minutes later, I found a fired Colt just a few steps ahead! I knew I was in a good area and continued to hunt there for a good portion of the day. All in all, I found six bullets in that field before walking over towards the Union camps.

Brass gun sling adjuster

My first find in Union territory was a "wormed" three ringer. It's called wormed because the bullet was pulled from the barrel of a gun before firing. The soldier used a long hook-like instrument and scooped the bullet out. On the picture provided, you can see some damage near the nose of the bullet, which was made by this hook pulling it out. Nearing the actual hill itself, I received a nice reverse signal on my detector which was a good sign of a brass object. Sure enough, I saw green in the hole. It ended up being a gun sling adjuster, in beautiful shape. The four triangle holes in the middle of the artifact was for a plate of some sort (wish I had found that!).

Wormed Three-ringer

I was finding quality items all that day, that is until it came to buttons. I swear, I found three button backs in a matter of a half-hour, two of which I know would have been state buttons by the size, shape, and manufacturer marks. But button backs don't do you much good unless they have the fronts still on them. However, I did manage to pull out a nice General Service Eagle coat button at the end of the day after being teased with button backs.

Day two started off with a bang. Over the course of an hour, I found five dropped Sharps bullets and a nice Spencer bullet. In total for Day 2, I found about ten bullets unfired and a few others that were fired. Day three was slow, only finding a couple bullets. However, I did manage to find a beautiful iron sight to a gun, probably an Enfield rifle (and I don't have the picture with me...sorry). Below are some pictures from the hunt:

I'll be attending the next DIV hunt in about three weeks, March 16-19 at Brandy Rock. Additionally, I'll be biking the C&O Canal towpath trail over spring break (March 4-13) and should probably take me five days to complete. I'll be providing a day-by-day log during that time, posting pictures of buildings, nature, and other cool things plus a personal reflection on the day. Get excited! I know I am. It's going to be a action-packed March! Thanks for reading guys!


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