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My Adventure in Williamsburg, Virginia

Friday, 08 September 2017 12:09 Written by  Published in Metal Detecting Blog
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My Adventure in Williamsburg, Virginia

My Adventure in Williamsburg, Virginia

My adventure in Williamsburg, VA began with a text message from my brother-in-law (AJ Stone) showing me an 1864 US two cent piece, Union Civil War Eagle Infantry button, a handful of round musket balls and .58 caliber Minie balls! Oh yeah… Did I mention the text message said, “Hey Bro, I found all of this within about an hour!”. AJ is an extremely skilled researcher, active duty Naval Officer, explorer and Detectorist. This text message told me he was on a hot spot. You know, one of those virgin sites with historical significance that has never been detected. Within a week I was expedition planning and on a flight to Newport News, VA!


1864 US 2 Cent Coin (Produced by the US Mint from 1864-1873)


Civil War Eagle “I” Button



Civil War Eagle “I” Button worn by the Union Infantry is comprised of foot-soldiers who fought primarily with small arms, and carried the brunt of the fighting on battlefields across the United States. One of the most common small arms that the Union Infantry carried was the 1861 Springfield Rifle which fired the .58 caliber Minie ball also known as the .58 caliber three ringer.

Handful of .58 Caliber Minie Balls (Three Ringers)                             Musket Round Balls




The .58 caliber Minie ball (three ringer) was a type of soft lead bullet used extensively in the Civil War and named after its co-inventor Claude-Étienne Minié. Now, before the Springfield Rifle was the Smoothbore Muskets which fired the Musket Balls. A quick example of why the rifle replaced the muskets in the Civil War was primarily due to the accuracy, range and damage. Musket balls were maybe accurate up to 50 yards which broke bones and tore tissue. Minie balls were accurate up to 200-300 yards which shattered bones and ripped through tissue which usually resulted in amputation of that body part! I just want to note that I am not a Civil War expert and this is very brief explanation.

Upon arrival to Williamsburg, which I must admit is one of my favorite places to metal detect due to the Colonial and Civil War history, AJ picked me up from the airport and briefed me on the mission ahead of us. We would eat, gear up, establish transport and deploy in one hour at the drop off location. We established our base camp once we were clear from the drop off and knew we had miles of rugged mountainous terrain to cover before nightfall. Within the first 2 hours of detecting, I recovered a 1773 Virginia Halfpenny! Believe it or not within the next 45 minutes I recovered another 1773 Virginia Halfpenny! This is why I love detecting in Virginia because even though we were detecting for Civil War artifacts, I was finding Colonial artifacts. After further investigation of the terrain and geological clues we could tell that this area had Colonial time period home-sites at one time. There is a lot of historical land in Williamsburg, Va. If you plan on metal detecting there, I highly encourage you to get permission from the property owners or you could find yourself in big trouble! All areas that we metal detected and recovered artifacts from was private property that we both had permission to be on!

1773 Virginia Halfpennys


To put in perspective how old these coins really are I want you to think about this. The United States didn’t become a country until July 4th, 1776. These 1773 Virginia Halfpennys were in circulation when Virginia was one of the original 13 colonies under King George III of Great Britain. I consider myself fortunate when it comes to finding these coins because in all my years of detecting I have found 3 of them and they were only minted for one year. Just as I start to brag about my 2 Virginia Halfpennys, AJ says, “Ed… come here I think I have something good!” Now remember he has already found an 1864 Two Cent Piece and Civil War Eagle “I” button. I make my way over to him and he is digging an 1857 Seated Half Dime that is in great condition! By the way I would like to mention that the Seated Half Dime has eluded me throughout all my years of metal detecting. I would also like to note that the Seated Half Dime was minted from 1837-1873 and discontinued the 13 stars in 1859. The 13 stars were replaced with the words UNTIED STATES OF AMERICA. As you can see on this coin the 13 stars are present with an “O” mint mark meaning it was minted in New Orleans.

1857 Seated Half Dime



As this epic day of metal detecting and exploring is starting to come to an end. We finally feel that were on the Civil War encampment or at least in the vicinity due to the number of dropped bullets and lead that we were digging. After about another hour of digging we have accumulated varies types of bullets including .58 caliber minie balls (three ringers) and musket round balls as mentioned above. Some of the other bullets that I found included a .52 caliber Sharps bullet which would have been fired from a Sharps Carbine Rifle. As you can see in the pic below this bullet has two rings and a solid base. The Sharps Carbine Rifle was used by both the Union and Confederate but was very popular with the Union Calvary. The other interesting bullet that I found was a .58 caliber three ringer that had been pulled. As you can see in the pic below this is your normal .58 caliber three ringer with a hole in the top. When the soldiers rifle would misfire or jam and they could not dislodge the bullet, the bullet would have to be pulled from the barrel of the gun. The tool used to pull these bullets was called a worm. If you look closely inside the hole of the bullet you will notice a thread pattern that was caused by the worm to extract the bullet.

.52 caliber Sharps and .58 caliber pulled three ringer



After an amazing day of Relic Hunting and exploring Colonial and Civil War history enriched sites it was time to head back to base camp. We arrived back at base camp and made the call to transport to pick us up at the previous drop off location. Once we arrived back at AJ’s home we discussed the day and knew it was safe to say that this mission was successfully accomplished! The next morning, I was back on the plane heading home and received another text message with pics from AJ! After dropping me off at the airport he informed me that he went to check out another potential site that we had researched and had just dug a Civil War Union Marine button! Oh yeah, did I mention that the text message said, “Hey Bro, I found this within an hour!”. By the way this Union Marine button has eluded me throughout my years of metal detecting also as I mentioned the Seated Half Dime above! Looks like I will be going back to Williamsburg, VA very soon and stay tuned for the updates at

Civil War Union Marine Button


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Last modified on Friday, 08 September 2017 13:43

Learn More About Ed Huffman

Ed Huffman

Ed Huffman is an Expert Metal Detectorist with years of experience and extensive training with Metal Detectors. Ed has gained years of experience and knowledge while hunting for artifacts/relics by learning effective researching and hunting methods from his own hunts, experts and Archaeologists. Ed also has a Bachelors of Science Degree from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga and is currently working on his Masters Degree in Archaeology from the University of Leicester in England. He has researched and recovered artifacts/relics throughout the United States and hopes to recover artifacts throughout the world someday! The majority of his recovered artifacts/relics he has in his personal collection or has donated to Museums, Private Collectors and Businesses.

Visit his official Ebay store at or shop at his web store Either way, you're sure to get a great deal and advice.

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