Relic Hunting At DIV

Author: John Kendrick

What makes DIV different from 99% of treasure hunting in the US is that we do our best to hold the events on winter encampments. There are literally thousands of short term Civil War camps in Virginia and other states. In those short term camps you will usually find scattered surface relics. A winter camp was occupied by large units for 3 or 4 months. These camps are well documented and have been hunted by folks with permission but mainly without….the landowners have been assaulted by permission seekers until thay are sick of it and almost never grant permission. In the case of Coles Hill, almost the entire Army of the Potomac, 2nd Corps was there. Probably 30,000 troops. There was also a good sized Cavalry engagement in the opening stages of the Battle of Brandy Station. In the case of Beauregard Farm you had the 6th Corps mainly but also large portions of the Battle of Brandy Station and some Confederate Infantry and Cavalry camps. Brandy Rock is also 6th Corps, Confederate Infantry and Cavalry and portions of the Battle of Brandy Station. Folks are always after me to get “new sites”….”new sites”….”new sites”. What they don’t know is that these old sites hold more relics than DIV could ever recover in a lifetime of hunts. I am always looking for new ground, we did a ton of surveys this year, but after all is said and done the tried and true sites are where we feel the average detectorist will have the best chance for success and the ones who “have it figured out” will lead the pack as always. Take for example Brandy Rock. Tons of relics were found at the last hunt. We have been there numerous times…..yet Tony H., in a well hunted area, dug almost 600 bullets from one hole and an ID disc right next to it.

People who know very little about winter camps in VA will tell you DIV has hunted these spots to death. They will tell you that there is very little left to find. NOTHING could be further from the truth. This VA red clay protects its relics very well and changes in moisture, farming operations, clearing areas, and even sun spots affect our ability to recover them. Not to mention advancements in metal detector technology. I would venture to say that 90% of DIV participants, not knowing how our WED DUT affects a detector, will walk over MANY more good targets than they dig for the simple reason it sounds like junk. I have watched (on many occasions) Marc, and others who have “figured it out”, spend an entire day or two in an area the size of my living room steadily digging relics and filling up display cases with good stuff. These folks have it “figured out”! They detect SLOWLY and dig every signal. Then you have folks that are always looking over the next hill and run hither and yon and don’t do nearly as well. Sorry to say most folks are like the cow that has to have that clump of grass just out of reach on the other side of the fence. I have said all this dozens of times but when the hunt starts, you would think you were at the Marine Corps Marathon!

I would venture to say that there are more relics left at the 3 previously mentioned farms than have been recovered thus far. It’s deep, it sounds like junk or it has never been covered due to underbrush, sticker bushes, etc. I have seen SO many cases where someone has opened up a hole, struck iron “junk” and and walked away only to have someone who has it figured out come along and dig the GOOD stuff that was hiding under that junk. At Cole’s Hill a bent rusty nail led to over 400 bottles and who knows what else (plates and buttons, bullets, canteens, etc etc).

Granted, you should not expect to find the mother lode…..some do, but the majority won’t. Like Doc said down below….the chance is there and I’m gonna say it again…GO SLOWLY, DIG EVERYTHING, try to maintain a positive attitude (the next signal may be your find of a lifetime), relax and enjoy the history, scenery, and friendship. Don’t fret and if you feel overwhelmed, stop and ask for some help or advice. Everyone wants everyone else to be successful. RELAX! RELAX! RELAX!