Chasing Pemberton

Published by Grant Gitschlag on 03/22/23

As an avid history buff and relic hunter, much of the fun of this wonderful hobby is sharing stories with others. I’m using Kellyco to share these adventures, because I feel the audience can appreciate it and find motivation through the success of others. 

I spent most of my formative years growing up in Central Mississippi, a region with tremendous amounts of Civil War history and massive swathes of fields and forest. Multiple clashes between the blue and gray hosts occurred during the lengthy Vicksburg Campaign, and those sites are well documented. For the new relic hunter, these areas are typically rather low yield due to the hoards of individuals who pounded these sites since metal detecting became prevalent in the 1960s on up. Instead, my good friend and detecting buddy Reagan Hataway and I pore over after action reports, diaries, and other period sources to find skirmish sites, picket posts, camps, etc. 

I had been detecting a while, but had recently retired my old machine in favor of the newer (then) Minelab CTX 3030 metal detector. Reagan was very new to the hobby, and was rocking the Minelab Equinox 800 metal detector. We had focused on a new site that research indicated was a skirmish location after Pemberton's army was crushed in battle and scattered in multiple directions to escape into the relative safety of the fortress of Vicksburg. The first couple trips to this locale showed promise, as we were recovering a few fired and dropped bullets of both US & CS origin. Reports of dueling artillery were also borne out, as we found cannister shot and shell fragments. Both machines did a terrific job of sniffing through the trash (of which there was a lot) to find the treasure. Though it was not as productive as other spots we had access to, we kept at it, and were going to be handsomely rewarded. A beautiful US plate showed up on our third trip to those spot, and because it was found on the fringes of where we had been hunting, we expanded our parameters. Walking into a grown up clearing, my first target in this new area was a beautiful bayonet scabbard tip. Being the good buddy I am, I instantly put my machine down to fetch Reagan and give him a chance to get in on a potential hotspot. Five minutes into him coming over, he calls out to me “hey I think I found a sword buckle!”. I was dubious, as at the time he was very new and we both had the habit of smoking too much hopium and trying to fashion junk into relics. I walked over, and he holds out a flat rectangular object that certainly bears a resemblance to a sword plate…. After a few gentle brushes on the face, a bird began to appear…. But it wasn’t no Yankee eagle! As it dawned on me that I was looking at a Louisiana State Seal Pelican buckle, thoughts flashed through my mind of whacking him over the head with my shovel, leaving him as the last casualty of a forgotten fight, and walking out of the woods solo with my new prize.

After dozens of hunts later, he and I are still best detecting buds, and he continues to frequently whoop my butt. Stay tuned for more episodes of “Reagan takes my relics”!

Start receiving news & exclusive savings today!