12 February 2013

VMI Cadet "Witness" Button?

Since I've become and avid metal detectorist, and even more fascinated with archaeology than I previously was, I've met some fantastic people. The metal detecting community enjoys, for the most part, a tremendous comradery fueled by the hobby itself, as well as a shared passion for history and preserving relics.

One of the individuals with whom I've become acquainted, and long-distance friends, is Quindy Robertson. Quindy owns a small farm in middle Tennessee and writes for several metal detecting and relic hunting magazines, including North South Civil War Trader. Recently, I offered some advice and assistance on a couple of Quindy's projects and, in return, he very graciously sent me a couple of gifts. Pictured below is one of them. Based on available research, this is a coat button that most likely once belonged to a Virginia Military Institute Cadet, circa 1848-1865. Quindy purchased it from Rafael Eledge, of Antique Roadshow fame. This is what Rafael had to say about the button:
This is an excellent non-excavated coat size button for the Virginia Military Institute Cadet. This is the style with the "D. EVANS” backmark that is in the ribbon. This is the version that is listed as SU408 in Albert’s button book and VAS294c2 in Tice’s book, both of which we sell. For years we have always considered this backmark as a Confederate used button but Tice's book states that their use is "Questionable". I have had several that were dug in campsites but I guess now that doesn’t matter to some folks. I like them either way. The face of the button has excellent detail and lots of the original gold gilt remaining. This is a great looking Civil War era V.M.I. coat button.
Here's a page listing quite a few buttons manufactured by the D. Evans company. 

Quindy also told me that Rafael told him that he, "bought several that all came from a jacket and he bought the buttons from an older lady." And my own research indicates that a number of these buttons have been excavated on numerous CW battlefields, like Cold Harbor, as well as known Confederate camps. I'm convinced it is CW period. So, as Quindy wrote me:
It's entirely possible that whoever wore this coat had Stonewall as his artillery instructor . . .
Now how cool is that!?


The Relic Seeker said...

Great piece of history. If relics/collecting interest you, please visit my blog.

Have you been to DIV?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Yes, they interest me quite a bit: http://oldvirginiablog.blogspot.com/p/civil-war-relic-hunting-metal-detecting.html

Thanks for the invitation. I'll check it out. Yes, I've been to two DIV's - one at Beauregard and one at Spillman's.

The Relic Seeker said...

I've been going since DIV XII, always a great experience. The next dig will be my first at Spillman.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I'm on the alternate list but, doesn't look like I'll make it this time.