Anita Holcombe of American Digger Magazine recently shared her story of recovering a Jeff Davis Hat Pin from a Civil War site in Belle Plains, Virginia. With Anita’s help, we explore the hat pin, its origins, and the purpose it served. Let’s first start with a little background on where the hat pin was recovered.
“Colonel Woodward did not weigh more than 110 lbs, had long curling hair flowing over his shoulders. His very small legs were stuck in high cavalry boots reaching above his knees; and on which, was an enormous pair of Mexican spurs. He had a cavalry saber that was much too long for him and an army pistol attached to his belt; which contrasted with his size, looked like a small cannon. His grey pantaloons were stuffed in his boot, while a dark grey hunting shirt with a narrow brimmed corduroy slouch hat completed his apparel. All this, with an extremely dust-begrimed face, made a picture ridiculously amusing.”
We recently attended the American Digger Magazine Civil War Relic Show & Sale, in Mt. Pleasant, SC. While publishers Butch and Anita were busy managing the show and greeting visitors, we were fortunate enough to be entrusted with running their merchandise table. In addition to meeting the many fans of the magazine, we also had the opportunity to see some amazing Civil War relics and American history. Here are a few highlights.
After waking up from sweet dreams of finding a CSA (Confederate States of America) plate (buckle or accoutrement), Butch Holcombe set out with his metal detector to explore a site in North Georgia that saw action during the Civil War. It was 1973, a time in which finding Civil War artifacts was much more prevalent than it is today – especially those rare relics that are coveted by collectors both then and now.
On the side of a ravine in Vicksburg, Mississippi, young John Jr. squirmed on the ground with his outstretched arm desperately trying to reach an object buried deep inside the Mississippi soil. Having just dug a 14-inch deep hole with the help of his Brother, Mother, and Father, John Jr. extended his hand and fingertips just enough to make contact with the object. He could see enough; and feel enough, of the object to know that something cool was waiting to be unearthed. Being the kind of mom that she is, Nikki pushed her metal detector to the side, rolled up her sleeves, and helped her sons unearth a piece of Civil War history – a Confederate cannonball from the Siege of Vicksburg (May 18 – July 4, 1863).
When you introduce a new item to your collection, your first goal should be record management. Records should include photographic documentation combined with written details that will provide you and future caretakers with the state of the object’s original condition, provenance, value, and location. Your second goal (and responsibility) is to ensure the object’s long-term safety and preservation while in your care.
Most mornings on the drive into work, I’ll have NPR playing on the radio to catch up on the news or the occasional odd story. On most Friday’s, NPR will play a short segment from StoryCorps. For those of you who have never heard of StoryCorps, it is a U.S. based, non-profit organization whose goal is to record and preserve the oral history of Americans from all walks of life. Usually, it is just two individuals sharing a short conversation about their past or discussing a life changing event. Topics cover a whole range of life events and are always interesting. Check out an example at the bottom of this post.
Since the time of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815), and perhaps before then, soldiers across every continent have spent their idle time converting military accoutrements and implements of war into decorative pieces of art. Common materials used to create such artwork include bone, artillery shells, lead bullets, canteens, and brass shell casings.
Recently, I took a trip to visit my folks on the family farm in Tennessee. They are just now settling into retirement which I would assume brings on a bit of reflection on the past, family heritage and family future.