Smith County, TN Civil War Artillery Canister Recovery

                        Civil War Artillery Cache

     A friend of mine who has written over 50 articles for relic/treasure magazines made some very interesting finds in 2018. Tennessee relic hunter and author Quindy Robertson received a tip from a longtime fishing friend regarding a site where some CW relics may be found. Quindy’s friend had observed the top of a rust colored round object protruding from the surface of an old road. Another mystery rusty relic was found by his friend’s wife very near the first object. That area was located in Smith County Tennessee near the junction of the Cumberland and Caney Fork Rivers. Brig. General George Crook was in command of the nearly 7,800 man Army of the Cumberland garrison there in 1863 and Jan. 1864. Gen. Crook’s command included artillery, infantry, and cavalry regiments

     Quindy began relic hunting near Hartsville, Tennessee in middle Tennessee during late 1995 and had in fact located a virgin U.S. infantry picket camp in 2016 less than a quarter mile from where his friends had observed the “relics”. His friends requested that Quindy should come by and identify the relics that spring. The two relics recovered by his friend and the friend’s wife were a small iron ball weighing a little over 4 pounds and a small iron canister ball. Quindy and his friend postponed the early 2018 recon trip to the site due to grass becoming too high to effectively hunt. Fortunately, both Quindy and his friend had permission to hunt there on private property.

     In late 2018, Quindy was invited to the relic recovery site and brought his Fisher F75. The second hole he dug revealed a small iron ball that actually looked like a 6 lb. cannonball.

     To his friend’s amazement, he dug anther iron ball and several more canister balls during their short hunt. A local well known veteran relic hunter and relic dealer identified the larger iron ball as one of 9 grapeshot balls for a 42# gun from a gunboat. The canister was real having the correct amount of rust as would be expected for the CW era. Quindy cleaned the ball and the canister ball. After cleaning, measuring and weighing the canister ball, it was very near an exact match to those used in the 24# Howitzer-48 canister per round described in the M & M bullet book.

     In short, Quindy made 20+ short hunts to the site recovering a total of 24 grapeshot balls for 24#, 32#, and 42# guns plus 700+ canister balls. I saw some of the large grapeshot balls and canister during my visit to middle Tennessee recently. The larger balls and some canister balls were donated to local historical societies, a nearby state park, and friends. Two articles regarding the recoveries were written by Quindy and published in Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine and pictures of the finds were published in American Digger Magazine.

     Ironically, no parts to construct the grape stand or canister were recovered in the small area. Obviously, the relics were dumped there for some unknown reason maybe for lack of other components required to construct the grape stand or canister. They could have been abandoned due to the weight as the Union Army moved toward Chattanooga or simply at the end of the Civil War.