29 November 2014

Metal Detecting Post #121 - Gold In Them Hills

And there's fire on the mountain, lightnin' in the air
Gold in them hills and it's waitin' for me there ~ Toy Caldwell

As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent a couple of days last week with 50 other men metal detecting a dug in Union Army camp near Culpeper, Virginia. One of the most interesting finds was a period, solid gold locket. Unfortunately, there wasn't a photograph inside of it, though even if it were, it probably would not have survived it's 150-year sleep in the ground. The find was particularly poignant to me in that it was found the week before Thanksgiving and had "Dec 25" inscribed on one side indicating it was either a Christmas present from a loved one or, maybe, intended for one.The other side was inscribed with period, script style initials. I believe the gentleman who made the recovery is attempting to identify the soldier who lost the locket.

Yours truly examining the gold locket in the field with my loupe.

28 November 2014

Metal Detecting Post #120 - Culpeper 2014 & Farriers

Here are some of my better finds from a recent Civil War relic hunt. We hunted what was a dug in Union camp near Culpeper, Virginia. Many of the finds indicate that the camp was occupied by a number of farriers and the army's mules and horses. I found quite a few mule shoes and others did as well, along with a lot of curry combs. These are some of my more interesting finds: A pair of farrier's nippers, a broken set of brass calipers for map reading/making (or possibly used as farrier toe calipers/dividers), a US rosette from a bridle bit, rein end, musket ball, a complete Eagle button, part of another, several button backs, a rivet with some of the leather still attached, a horseshoe nail, a square nail, and 3 unidentified pieces that may be saddle or accoutrement related. The nippers will be cleaned back down to clean metal before displaying. I've got some more iron pieces I'll post later.

Union Army farriers shoeing horses at Antietam.

Union Army farriers.

20 November 2014

Metal Detecting Post #119 - A Bunch Of Bullets

Join me on another relic hunting adventure as we recover Civil War bullets and artillery shell fragments from a historic site (on private property) in the legendary Shenandoah Valley of Old Virginia!

And I'll be out on another invitational Civil War relic hunt for the next couple of days. Hopefully, I'll have some history to share once I return.

18 November 2014

17 November 2014

Metal Detecting Post #118 - Southern Cemeteries

Photo by Robert Moore
No, I do not relic hunt/metal detect in cemeteries or graveyards. That is highly unethical, not to mention illegal. But one does find things related, nonetheless. Several weeks ago, fellow Virginian and blogger, Robert Moore, sent me some photos of coffin handles he had recovered from a family cemetery. Robert was part of a group that was cleaning and restoring the old cemetery. He wanted to know if I could help pinpoint the manufacture date. Though I have quite a few resources, I was unable to help, though Robert later dated them to the mid 19th century.
They appear to be made of some type of pewter alloy. 

It wasn't too long after this that I had my own experience with coffin hardware. I recently gained access to a piece of property I've wanted to metal detect for several years. The property had changed hands and doors opened with the new owner. The site is an old farm here in the Shenandoah Valley that dates to the early 1800's - over 500 acres. A Confederate veteran lived there at one time and oral history says the place was raided by Union soldiers during the War Between the States.
Photo by Robert Moore

I've detected the area around the main house (circa 1830) for about 3 hours and found absolutely nothing worth keeping. I suspect it's been detected hard in previous years. Then the other day I was back relic hunting in one of the surrounding cornfields and the farm manager stopped by for a visit. After I told him I wasn't finding much besides junk, he said, "You should go up on the hill and hunt around the old family cemetery." I must have looked surprised and disgusted all at the same time, because he very quickly added, "Oh, no, no, I don't mean IN the cemetery, just AROUND it. It's fenced in."

So I headed to the location, about a half mile from the main home. Access to the location required 4WD. The family cemetery has many of the characteristics one so often sees in Southern Appalachia areas of the United States: at the top of a hill, behind the main home, with yucca plants and all the headstones all facing east.
Yucca plants are evergreen and were often used to mark the foot of a grave and, in the absence of a stone, the head. They are also believed to have spiritual significance in Native-American and African cultures. No doubt some of that ritual belief was adopted by white settlers as well.

The earliest death date I could make out was 1822, though I believe there are older graves there. The cemetery was in deplorable condition. The yucca plants have all but taken over the whole area (about 24'x40'), groundhogs have wreaked havoc, many headstones are broken and others have fallen over. Also, the ground had evidently suffered significant erosion as the burial area sat about 18" above the surrounding pasture, exposing the very base of the fence posts.

The surrounding grass was pretty high, making it difficult to swing my detector coil close to the ground. And, again, I want to be clear that I only detected OUTSIDE the fenced burial area. Darkness was approaching fast, so everything I found I just stuffed into my bag without really looking at it until I got home. Most of what I found consisted of nails and cow tags - except for what you see below. I'm relatively sure these are hardware pieces from a coffin, similar to Robert's. I found all of them about 2 feet off of the northeast corner of the cemetery. Like Robert's they seem to be made out of some type of "pot metal" or pewter alloy.

The farm manager told me that he and the new owner plan to clean and restore the old cemetery. I will be returning these pieces to the cemetery at that time.

15 November 2014

Are These Folks "Manure" Too?

I promised this follow up a month ago. Sorry for the delay. I had responded earlier to a post at Civil War Memory in which comments were posted calling a woman "manure" for promoting a line of women's clothing which characterized Southern style, in part as . . .
Georgia peaches, sweet tea, and the enticement of a smooth twang…we all love a bit of southern charm. These regional mainstays, along with an innate sense of social poise, evoke an unparalleled warmth and authenticity in style and tradition.
Yes, for this the young woman was called "manure" by one of Levin's followers. And Levin said he agreed with calling this woman, whom neither the commenter nor Levin has ever met, "manure".  Is this part of that whole "war on women" thing I keep hearing about? 

From the post and comments at CWM, I think its safe to say we don't all love a bit of Southern charm. But a lot of folks do, particularly in the South; as well as our Yankee friends who like to migrate here. But some of the critics and other members of the permanent wedgy class simply don't approve of the way many Southerners think, as this comment over the subject indicates:
too many people don't think "slavery" when they hear "plantation".
What defines "too many"? More than zero? A baker's dozen? As anyone familiar with academia knows, groupthink is all the rage these days. We must all think like we're told to think. Maybe some indoctrination and re-education camps are in order so we'll all get our minds right.

I suppose Americans should also automatically think "slavery" when they see the U.S. Capitol, since it was built by slaves, and think "slavery" every time they see the U.S. flag since it flew over slave ships, and think "slavery" at every sporting event when the Star Spangled Banner is sung, since Francis Scott Key owned slaves. We could go on.

It's all a big morality play. You're supposed to think and feel evil when you hear "plantation" and if you don't, you're "manure." You should be ashamed for embracing and enjoying Southern culture. That's their perspective.  Sometimes it seems like these folks are projecting what occupies their thought processes all of the time. Should I think slavery when I see a pair of Nike's too?

Of course, Levin is one who thinks that using the term "War Between the States" is somehow improper. As that link and post prove, it's still a popular term and used by many (particularly in the South) in lieu of the term "Civil War."

The bottom line is that this is simply part of the attempt to marginalize anyone who relishes the rich, wonderful, diverse culture of the South and who fails to think, write or speak outside of academia's box of groupthink. Some of its envy. And a lot of its snobbery, arrogance, elitism and insecurity. 
an increasingly successful campaign by the media and an academic elite to strip . . . Southerners . . . of their heritage, and therefore, their identity. They are being taught to forget their forebears or to remember them with shame. ~ Eugene Genovese
But if these self-righteous folks - who refer to a stranger marketing Southern themed clothing as "manure" - want to shame the rest of us into turning our backs on our Southern culture and heritage, they've got their work cut out for them. Ms. Lively (aka "Manure" to the intellectually and morally superior class) isn't the only person or company marketing Southern themed clothing. Consider:

Southern Proper: "Style, Tradition and Authenticity are the Southern pillars that inspired the creation of Southern Proper . . . " 

Southern Belle: "We hope you will join this Online Community by letting your voice be heard. To us, this is more than just selling t-shirts, it's about bringing TRUE Southern Belles together. Big thanks to each and every one of you for helping turn one little idea into a Southern Cultural Phenomenon. We look forward to hearing from y'all." Simply Southern Collection: (No "about us" or mission statement, but the name says it all.)

Southern Fashion House: "The house that Southern values built."

Coast Apparel: "quickly becoming THE clothing line around southern college campuses with guys that have many common likes – hunting, fishing, bars, football, basketball, road trips, fraternity parties, and a date on the town."

Bourbon and Boots: "Bourbon & Boots was formed by a bunch of Southerners … and one yankee. (We forgive him.) Our team scours the country for classic Americana items — seeking high-quality, stylish things that inspire us. You won’t find any mass-produced, “big box” products here because we look for high-quality, “small batch” creations from small business owners and artisans."

Southern Shirt:  The Southern Shirt Company

Garden & Gun: ". . . a metaphor for the South—its land, the people, their lifestyle, and their heritage. . . . Garden & Gun, LLC is a lifestyle brand anchored by its award-winning national magazine, Garden & Gun that covers the best of the South, including the sporting culture, the food, the music, the art, the literature, the people and their ideas.  With a national audience of more than one million passionate and engaged readers, the magazine has won numerous awards for its journalism, design, and overall excellence.  The publication was launched in the Spring of 2007. The company and editorial team are headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, with advertising sales offices across the United States."

And my personal favorite . . .

Southern Fried Cotton: "We're a homegrown apparel company inspired by Southern style. The creators of SoFriCo were born and raised in the South and have a shared passion for all things Southern. Our goal is to capture the Southern spirit in our apparel, from the rustic countryside to the vibrant coastline. Take a look through our catalog and find a piece of the South to take with you!"

And although it doesn't have anything to do with clothing, we can't possibly forget . . . 

Rebel Yell Bourbon: "The 'Rebel Yell' is one of the most endearing legends in our country’s history. It is a war cry used by Confederate soldiers to instill fear while engaged in battle. Also used as a chant of victory or a moral booster, General 'Stonewall' Jackson was once quoted as saying “that’s the most beautiful sound in the world”

"Today Rebel Yell Bourbon represents the same victorious passion, commitment and honor to its heritage that our forefathers exhibited with their rebel yells. So next time you’re drinking Rebel Yell Bourbon, belt out a rebel yell in celebration. Who knows, it may inspire you to blaze your own trail."

I think some folks really do need to broaden their horizons and experience some cultural diversity. In other words, become an independent thinker and "blaze your own trail." And, while you're at it, why not make a fashion statement to boot?

Cheers y'all.

11 November 2014

Fraud & Discrimination In Wackydemia

Academic fraud benefits the entire university community except the black students. If universities can maintain the scholar-athlete charade, they earn tens of millions of dollars in sports revenue. Other than as a pretense, academics can be ignored. The university just has to create academic slums, where weak students can “succeed.” Stronger academic departments benefit because they do not have to compromise their standards and bear the burden of having to deal with weak students. Then there’s that feather in the diversity hat upon which university administrators are fixated. I guarantee you that academic fraud is by no means unique to UNC. As such, it represents gross dereliction and dishonesty on the parts of university administrators and faculty members. ~ Dr. Walter Williams
And another school doesn't like conservative speakers, so it suppresses free speech by defunding clubs that don't conform to the school's political views:
When Lauren asked for a specific explanation as to why her club was losing funding, her inquiries were ignored. Finally, Lauren set a meeting with the Student Budget Board, and they explained to her that they “had an issue” funding the event in the first place because the speaker was Bay Buchanan. Max Frischman, the head of the Student Budget Board (who didn’t attend the event) told the YAF Chapter that if they had known the topic was going to be immigration—something that “would create a problem on campus when there isn’t one—they never would’ve approved the funding for it.”. . . In a statement to Young America’s Foundation, Lauren said, “I’m disappointed in Virginia Tech for being intolerant toward conservatives. I feel discriminated against for speaking my mind and standing up for what I believe in as the chairwoman of my Young Americans for Freedom chapter.”  
And the bias and bigotry trickles down to "public" schools as well:
“Public schools should encourage the free exchange of ideas. Instead, this school implemented an ill-conceived ban that singles out religious speech for censorship during free time,” remarked ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco in a press release announcing the suit.
Academia and the education establishment: rampant with fraud, political correctness and discrimination against conservatives and Christians. And the ones hurt most are students.

08 November 2014

Civil War History . . . Kinda

Well, for the Republicans, they are in their best position in the states in a century. For Democrats, they're in their worst position since something called the Civil War.
How ironic. Source.

04 November 2014

North vs. South & What Held Us Together

Yes, there is a huge difference in the competing regions' perspective on the War Between the States. North South Trader's Civil War publisher, as Steve Sylvia points out in a recent editorial:
Opinions about the war were much more polarized and more obvious, too. In the South, the words "Dixie" or "Rebel" were everywhere in the names of motels, restaurants, and gas stations. Confederate flags and Rebel characters like Gen. Jubilation T. Cornpone were incorporated into ads and signs.In sharp contrast, In the North it was as though that war never happened. There were no Yankee Gas stations or Bluebelly Motels. 
Yet before the WBTS, there was a "commonality" that bound us together:
America was colonized by small groups of people from England, France, Spain, and the Netherlands with very common characteristics of race, religion, morals, ethics, education, and stations in life. They were nearly all from the working class --- farmers, tradesmen, soldiers, and speculators. There were few aristocrats. They shared a common grasp of man's responsibility to family and community and man's role in the scheme of things.

This commonality was the grounding basis for America. It probably accounts for the fact that the colonies never went to war with one another. Instead they labored at communication and compromise and never forgot that their neighbors had the right to govern themselves by their own needs and wants. This was the basis for states' rights, a concept little understood by most Americans today.

The colonists followed a basic understanding about priorities. With some variations, an individual was faithful to God first, family second, community third, colony next, and nation last. This order of loyalty began with ancient man's simple recognition of allegiance to family and clan out of self defense. Thousands of years later the structure of loyalties persisted. In 1861, most men still adhered to that pecking order of fidelity: God, family, community, state, region, and nation. [Emphasis mine.]
Note the pecking order of priorities in that last sentence. This still holds true for many Americans, despite what is often portrayed in the elitist trinity of government, the media and academia.

Sylvia continues:
It occurs to me that in our zeal to understand other nations and other peoples, we have lost sight of our own past. As a result, all too often people blindly accept the nonsense of agenda-driven revisionists who have erroneously retrofitted America's complex historical figures and events into convenient pigeonholes.
One of those historical figures is, of course, Robert E. Lee. And Sylvia rightly concludes:
From Lee's perspective, the US was about to wage war on his home, his people, and his family. Even though the basic principles of the Republic had been compromised, Lee agonized over the decision and made his choice reluctantly
Once committed, he fought like a lion. Once defeated, he was without rancor. Such a man is not a traitor but a role model for all.
If you are interested in the WBTS beyond the social justice perspective that you read on so many CW blogs today, you will find North South Trader's Civil War an oasis. I highly recommend it for CW buffs as well as scholars and collectors. 

Read the rest of Sylvia's piece here. Subscribe here.

03 November 2014

A Civil War Soldier's Famous Tool Chest

H.O. Studley served in the Union Army during the War Between the States. But that's not what he's remembered for. Rather, he's somewhat famous for his tool chest. Wiki tells us this:
Studley joined the Massachusetts Infantry at the start of the Civil War and was captured in Galveston, Texas in 1863. After the war he returned to Quincy and joined the Rural Masonic Lodge. He died in 1925 and was remembered in his obituary in the Quincy Patriot-Ledger for his remarkable tool chest, among his other achievements.
Friend, adopted Virginian and retired Senior Furniture Conservator at the Smithsonian Institute Don Williams has a book coming out next year about Studley and his absolutely amazing tool chest. Don discusses in the video below.

01 November 2014

Bias & Prejudice In Academia

The discussion at Professor Jimmy Price's Civil War blog over the controversy stemming from Kevin Levin's post continues. Professor Price mentions Dr. GeorgeYancey, whom I've posted about before.

One commenter at Levin's blog makes this rather astonishing claim in response to the bias against Christians in academia:

The fallacies within that comment are so obvious as to be a time-waster to even discuss. Regardless, those interested in the topic of religious bias against Christians in academia will find this presentation by Professor Yancey quite interesting and enlightening; as well as troubling - but not all that surprising; at least not so to me. But the debate as to whether or not this situation exists is over. Those within academia who continue to deny this is a real problem are either complicit or willfully ignorant and in being so, they perpetuate it.

Southerners Are Evil . . .

But I want their vote anyway. Well, if she doesn't get reelected, she might have a future as a Civil War blogger - she's got the script down, that's for sure.