In this series, we have selected 100 metal detecting finds that were extremely difficult to detect and recover, and provide details on the circumstances and techniques that contributed to their successful recovery.
KEEPER: This is a Smith Carbine bullet. The only one I’ve found to date. It’s M&M number is 70. M&M stands for McKee and Mason, author’s of the definitive reference on identification of Civil War bullets. Another such book is written by Dean Thomas, and collectors will also refer to certain bullets by their Thomas number!
All Smiths were issued to cavalry units in the Civil War. Units known to have received the Smith carbine include:
- 3rd West Virginia Volunteer Cavalry Regiment
- 7th Illinois Cavalry
- 11th Illinois Cavalry
- 1st Connecticut Cavalry
- 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry
- 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry
- 6th Ohio Cavalry
- 9th Ohio Cavalry
- 1st Massachusetts Cavalry
- 10th New York Volunteer Cavalry
Out of all of these, only the Illinois 7th Regimental Cavalry, under Colonel John M. Graham, was in Spring Hill, Tennessee. They were there on December 18, 1864. It is very unusual to be able to identify a bullet to a particular unit, and it is very exciting to be able to do so with a reasonable amount of certainty in this instance.
SITE: School yard on battlefield, Spring Hill, Tennessee
SITE EVALUATION: 7 of 10 This school was built on top of an old Civil War era home and provided many bullets and some other great relics. Tons of relics are still out there to find.
PERMISSION: Public school with permission from school board
Outskirts: I love to hunt the “fringes” of sites that have been productive. Many of my best finds have come from property lines, and out of the way little areas that may have been overlooked by other detectorists. This bullet was in a trashy little area near the baseball fields behind the school.
Schools Out: Hunt schools on weekends, preferably Sundays. When students are there, security is off the charts these days with all the school shootings and whatnot. And school permission is finicky and easy to lose in my experience. After hours the staff is still there, and even if you have permission, it might case unnecessary challenges that could result in your permission being revoked.
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