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A Digging Story in Franklin

by: Gary Henry

Most people that know me know that I'm a firefighter here in Nashville, but I am also a carpenter. It's the way I earned a living prior to the fire dept and it has been a good second income the last nine years. I specialize mostly in remodeling, and this sometimes presents some good opportunities for potential hunting sites and that's what this story is about.

Last spring I found out we would be working on a house on the outskirts of Franklin (just the mention of Franklin gets my wheels turning). Upon the arrival at the house I noticed several things. The house was just a stones throw from a main highway (good sign). It had about a one acre lot and a little farm house, probably 50 or 60 years old in bad condition sitting in the middle of the lot. The house had been worked on prior to our arrival and the homeowner had fired these people. It didn't take long to see why. The place was a mess. I knew we would be there a few weeks. After meeting the owner (who had just bought the house and wasn't living in it yet), I asked permission to search the yard and was told to have at it. So I began to bring my detector to work and hunted on lunch break and after work. After hunting a couple of days I had very little to show. I knew there had to be something good in that yard and was hoping my luck would change. I didn't realize just how soon that would happen.

I brought my detector back the next day and at the end of the work day I put my tools up and got my toy out and instead of continuing to hunt the backyard I decided to try the front. After about an hour of hunting and digging a few coins and a lot of junk I began to have my doubts. I decided to hunt down the stepping stones that led to the mailbox, hoping I might find something. I was about 20 or 30 feet from the street when I got a good signal. A coin reading about four inches deep. After cutting a nice deep plug and running my coil over it I was surprised to find my target still in the hole. After carefully digging a couple of inches deeper I pulled a brass object out. Once I had brushed the dirt away; it was pretty obvious that what I had was a powder flask. I can remember thinking this is more like it. Now I was hunting with renewed enthusiasm. A very short while later, again about 20 feet from the road I got another good reading. I could tell it was a fairly large target not very deep. I plugged a large hole trying to bring the target up in the plug but the plug came apart in my hands. After clearing the hole by hand I saw the edge of an object. I knew what it was when I saw it; I gently pryed it loose with my fingers and let out a yell. A U.S. belt plate! I pulled my head phones off and danced a jig around the hole in the ground. I was so excited, I filled my hole and put my detector in the truck. I had made two good finds in less that 20 minutes. It was time to go home. I knew there was plenty of hunting left on that yard.

I brought my hunting partner, my brother Larry that following weekend. We both had visions of belt plates dancing in our heads, but it just wasn't in the plans. We hunted that yard just as thoroughly as we have ever hunted and found not one single Civil War relic. We found a lot of nice things but no relics. We couldn't believe it. I continued to search after work every day. Soon the finds got fewer and fewer and like all jobs, this one too came to and end. I had a lot of hours of fun hunting this yard, but the hard thing for me to believe is that after finding the powder flask (a Union officer's pistol flask) and the U.S. oval belt plate, I never dug another relic, not even a bullet in that yard. I guess that's one of life's little mysteries, but it is also the joy of our hobby, because you never do know what you're going to dig up next.

Happy Hunting!

A Good Morning

by: Dick Sherlock

Before transferring to Nashville, I was stationed in Savannah, Georgia with the FAA, for five years. Not long after I got there I met a gentleman named Ralph Cox who was an avid hunter of Civil War Relics. He hunted with a Nautilus detector and did very well with it. He did considerable research, and knew the location of many Union and Confederate camps. He was kind enough to invite me to hunt with him, and we spent many enjoyable hours together over a period of about three years.

One morning we began searching in an area where large live oaks were located. It had been the site of an old plantation, and we had previously found a number of old U.S. large cents. According to Ralph's research, a Union camp had also been located there. It wasn't long until Ralph found part of a spur, and several .58 cal. bullets. We found grubbing hoe heads which were very typical in the area. I got a good signal, and dug out two whole Spencer cartridges. I kept checking, and finding more Spencers. Before I had finished I had fifty cartridges all from the same hole! Ralph figured one of "Uncle Billy's" (his name for Sherman) troopers had discarded wet ammunition, or perhaps old issue, and had been re-supplied with new ammunition. Some of the cartridge cases were eaten through, and some had the bullets bent out of line, but most were on good condition except for normal discoloration. I still have most of them.

Ralph usually out did me when we went hunting, but this morning he had to admit I was the lucky one.

August Hunting

by: Gary Henry

It's six in the morning, I've loaded my truck.
Hoping today there will be a change in my luck.
Flying down the highway to my favorite site.
Feeling good about hunting in the early morning light.
Bill Hall said the weather would be very hot.
I wish it were cooler, but I'll take what I've got.
I pull up to my site with my detector in hand,
and look where the dozers have graded the land.
Turn on my machine and balance with care.
Look up toward the hillside, I think I start there.
Each swing brings a chirp that sounds like iron trash.
I listen to each sound, hoping I might find a cache.
Suddenly a good reading with hopes way up high.
I dig up a screw cap, cover my hole with a sigh.
I hunt for a while with very little to show,
but the next find might be good, you just never know.
Finally a good reading, I dig up a cent.
A sixty eight memorial, it's scratched and it's bent.
The sun is now beaming, not a cloud in the sky.
The sweat is now pouring and I'm beginning to fry.
Dust clouds jump up with each step I take.
Covering shoes and legs like the icing on a cake.
And digging the ground that's baked hard as stone,
is next to impossible with the shovel I own.
I hunt with high hopes that the next find might be,
a Confederate button or a seated liberty.
How about a belt plate or a shiny gold ring?
On this day in August, I'll take anything.
Now a signal like a bell in my headphones so clear,
as I dig out a plug what do we have here?
It's a bullet by golly, a dropped sixty nine.
I jump for joy over this bullet of mine.
I head for my truck with detector in hand.
Don't know how much more of this fun I can stand.
With clothes all covered with dirt and with sweat.
I head off to the store for a drink cold and wet.
As I drink down my cola I think of how dear,
that it would be now if December were here.


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