Civil War in the News Fall 2012

Here’s a look at a few Civil War related items in the news this fall.

Missouri Man Admits He Removed Remains From Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

In an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Springfield, Missouri resident Coy Matthew Hamilton admitted he removed human bones from Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in southwest Missouri and will pay $5351 in restitution to the National Park Service (NPS) and serve 60 hours of community service. Hamilton, 31, will then avoid Federal prosecution for violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act by removing the remains from the battlefield.

Hamilton was canoeing on Wilson’s Creek on February 27, 2011 when he saw a bone sticking out of the creek bank which had eroded due to heavy rains. He removed the bones from the site, but later turned them into the National Park Service. The NPS did an archaeological excavation at the site. (The restitution amount was the cost of the archaeological study). Only about a third of the skeleton was recovered, but buttons found on site and the location of the remains indicated they were likely from a Confederate cavalryman who had been killed in the August 10th, 1861 battle and buried shortly thereafter.

It is extremely rare, but obviously not unheard of to find remains or other artifacts at battlefield sites, especially if they are uncovered due to erosion or other weather related disturbances to the land; a few years ago someone found Civil War human bones at Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland. If you are visiting a site and find relics or artifacts from a battle, leave them where they are and notify the NPS. Relic hunting of any kind is prohibited in National Battlefields and Military Parks, and violators will be subject to prosecution.

Artifacts from the Civil War can be found in some strange places sometimes, not just where there was fighting, which is a perfect lead in to this next item….

Civil War Cannonball Found in Downtown Philadelphia

A contractor digging in Philadelphia’s Independence Square near Independence Hall in late October unearthed what is believed to be a Civil War cannonball.  The Philadelphia Bomb Squad was called into examine the approximately three inch diameter cannonball, and confirmed it was a solid shot and not an explosive shell.  Turns out there was an army recruitment center on the site back in 1862, and they may have left the cannonball behind.

While this object was solid, there were many other shells and cannonballs in the Civil War that were explosive, and if they haven’t been disarmed, remain so today.  If anything, the passage of time has made the explosive charges more unstable and dangerous.  A Civil War collector in Prince George County, Virginia played it safe and called the bomb squad when he decided to get rid of a cannonball and mortar shell he owned, and wasn’t sure if the devices were dangerous or not. 

New Trailer for Spielberg’s Lincoln Movie

As was mentioned in an earlier post, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln opens nationwide on November 16th. Here’s the trailer for the film. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

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