Metal Detecting For Civil War Relics

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Cory Haasnoot

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The market for Civil War Relics is huge. There are a number of clubs and organizations associated with the Civil War and the collecting of Civil War relics. Metal detecting for Civil War relics can be a fun and profitable endeavor to get involved with. Most of the major Civil War Battlefields are protected by American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP)  created in 1991.

There are other places you can metal detect for Civil War relics other than the major battlefields. Civil War Relics can be found on old roads near the battlefields, on private property that smaller battles took place, and in and around where Civil War soldiers camped. You will want to do some research before attempting to locate areas of interest.

Metal Detect For Civil War Relics?

Where to Look For Civil War Relics

Doing some research before you go relic hunting will help you save a lot of time in the long run. You will want to check old maps and search the internet for possible Confederate and Union campsites. There are hundreds if not thousands of websites that are dedicated to the Civil War so you should have no problem finding important historic information. Join some of the Civil War forums and read through the threads on them and ask questions when they arise.

Using the old maps you might be able to find where the old roads are located. Many of the troops during the Civil War marched by foot from, battlefield to battlefield and with all that foot traffic there should be lost metal items that the soldiers carried on them.

You can also check out this site here that contains most of THE OFFICIAL RECORDS OF THE UNION AND CONFEDERATE ARMIES. This will give you a wealth of information on the correspondence of the Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War.

What Types of Civil War Relics Can Be Found?

Union Army uniform cap of the American Civil War.

There are a number of items that can be found with a metal detector that are considered from the Civil War. Here is a list of what you might find while metal detecting for Civil War Relics:

  • Bullets
  • Buckels 
  • Buttons
  • Cartridge Pouches
  • Cartridges
  • Metal Personal Effects
  • Bayonets
  • Canteens
  • Coins
  • Medical Instruments

So as you can see so many different items can be found when you metal detect for Civil War relics. The list could go on and on about specific little items that can be found. Check out The Civil War Collectors Encyclopedia for more information on the types of relics that can be found.

Be Prepared to Dig

Relics from the Civil War will often times be buried deep in the ground because they have been lost for over a hundred years. So you want to make sure you are prepared to dig in whatever type of ground you find the relic in.

A good metal detecting digging tool is essential to save you time and effort when digging for Civil War relics. Make sure you have a digging knife that has serrated edges like the Garrett Edge Digger that you can conveniently carry on your belt while metal detecting.

You will also want a sturdy metal detecting shovel with you so you can dig up those deeper relics that you may come across. You will want serrated edges on your shovel as well to dig through roots of and undergrowth that you might encounter. The Anaconda NX-5 31 Inch Shovel is a great metal-detecting shovel that will get the job done.

Digging Deeper: Best Metal Detecting Digging Tools 2020

Utilize Different Sized Search Coils

It’s good practice when relic detecting to bring along various sized search coils. If you’re searching for relics that are buried deep in the ground like many civil war relics will be you want to have a large-sized search coil between 11 and 12″ in diameter. Using large coils ensures that you get the best possible depth and you can cover a larger area in less time.

If there is a lot of trash in the area like iron nails you will want to use a smaller-sized coil between 5 and 8″ in diameter. This will ensure you pick ou the treasure from the junk lying around. The sized coil you use will largely depend on where you are searching.

Digging Deeper: How Search Coils Work

Use a PinPointer 

A pinpointer is a small handheld metal detector that you can use while digging the relic up to pinpoint exactly where the item is in the hole. Pinpointers come in handy and you definitely should have one on your tool belt while metal detecting for relics. Sometimes the relic will be small like a bullet or button and a pinpointer will help you find it in the dirt much easier than just guessing.

I would recommend the Garrett Pro-Pointer AT. This pinpointer will help you hone in on your target fast. It’s lightweight and you can get a tool belt holder so you can conveniently keep it by your side whenever you might need it.

Digging Deeper: Best Pinpointers For Metal Detecting

What Type of Metal Detector is Best For Relic Hunting?

There are a few things you will want to consider when choosing a good metal detector to go Civil War relic hunting.

Ground Balance

First off you want to have good ground balancing on your metal detector because the soil if your detecting down south is highly mineralized so if you don’t have a metal detector that has a great ground balance feature you will get false readings that if followed will have you digging up a lot of nothing.

VLF or Very Low Frequency

The next thing is you want a VLF metal detector for relic hunting. If the ground is highly mineralized and trashy a VLF will be able to detect the junk from the treasure better than other metal detector types. Your VLF detector should have great discrimination which also helps keep you from finding a lot of junk.

Some other features you will want on a metal detector designed for relic hunting are:

  • Visual Target Id
  • Target Depth Indicator
  • Digital Target Identification

All these features help you determine what you are actually detecting with your metal detector be it silver or gold and even if it’s a coin shape item.

Best Metal Detectors For Relic Hunting

If you are serious about metal detecting for Civil War relics you will want to check out one of these metal detectors that work great for relic hunting.

Garrett AT Pro

This metal detector has everything you need to have a successful day hunting for Civil War Relic. Mater of fact this is the exact metal detector they use on the show Diggers where they find all kinds of Civil War Relics. Check it out it’s available on Amazon. Click the button below to check out the price.

Garrett ATX

If you want a deepseeking metal detector that’s great for finding relics deep in the ground then you will want to check out the Garrett ATX. This metal detector includes all the features neccessary for a successful relic hunt. The ATX  is a high end metal detector that will get the job done. It’s Available on Amazon!

Metal Detecting For Civil War Relics Final Thoughts

With the proper research and the right metal detector, you should have no problem finding civil war relics that you can sell or enjoy in your own collection. Please do not disturb any protected Civil War Battlefields and ask permission first before you go metal detecting on private land.

I hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Until next time Happy Relic Hunting!

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Author: Cory Haasnoot

Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.

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