Sunday, April 17, 2011

Small pieces of Civil War history

The two bullets at left are drops; the two bullets at right were fired.

Each of the Civil War bullets above weighs no more than a couple ounces and is a little bigger than the tip of my middle finger. But if any of these small pieces of  lead would have struck the officer in the background square in the arm during the Civil War, he likely would have faced amputation.

A fired bullet I found at Antietam in the 1980s.
I found the .54-caliber three-ring bullet (right and second from right above)  in the 1980s using a metal detector on the D.R. Miller Farm  in Sharpsburg, Md., when it was private property and you could relic hunt there legally (with permission, of course). That land on the Antietam battlefield was donated by the Conservation Fund to the National Park Service in 1990 and relic hunting there now is a big no-no. If you do it and get caught, expect a large fine ... or worse.

As a cub reporter for the Martinsburg (W.Va.) Evening Journal back in the day, I interviewed the Paul Culler family, who owned the Miller Farm at the time, for a story on Civil War relic hunting. When I arrived for the interview, the Cullers had a large table full of relics set up in the driveway. Rifle parts, artilillery shells and shell fragments, bullets --  they found all that and much more on the property they had been farming since 1952. Many of those relics were found in "The Cornfield," the infamous plot of land on the Miller Farm where thousands of Yankees and Rebels killed and maimed each other for hours on the morning of Sept. 17, 1862.

The bullet at right was found in a plowed field near the Hagerstown Pike, opposite the old Miller home, which dates to about 1800. Judging from its distorted state, the bullet was definitely fired, probably by a Union soldier, 149 years ago. Whether it struck another human being or not is lost to history.

Below are other bullets in my collection -- some fired, some not.

Civil War bullets in my collection.


  1. Anonymous10:24 PM

    nice post, johnny...

  2. That was my Uncles farm, unfortunately I only found bullets on the cow lane headed out to the East woods. I didn't own a detector at that time but detect several locations in the Sharpsburg area now and have found several 69 two ring drops.