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Civil War Culture Diversity Preservation Untold Stories

The Diamonds of Virginia

chodges16 Mar 07
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When I was a young girl, my father took me to do every possible activity he could think of, at any chance we got. We went fishing, hiking, hunting, camping, and any other activity he could think of. However, the days that caused me to burst with excitement, the days where I was the one pulling my father towards the door, were always spent in the heat of the spring or summer, on the driest days of the year. We didn’t get to do it much, but on the right conditions, my father would strap a metal detector to his arm and hand me the headphones.

We’d walk silently while I was intently listening, eagerly waiting for a large screech to reach the headphones. I wasn’t always accurate, and neither was the metal detector. With every small sound that was picked up, I’d shout to my father that something was waiting for us under the ground. He had to remind me each session that only the louder sounds were worth stopping for, though he was never irritated about the constant reminder I needed. Once I heard one especially loud squeak from the device, I’d cry out in glee, and my father would begin digging where there was metal detected in the ground. After a few minutes of peering over his shoulder, trying to get a good glimpse of what treasure may be down under the surface of the ground, and much anticipation, he would pull out a short, small cylinder and would smile to me and say “looks like we hit the jackpot again” while handing the piece to me to examine. I would spin each one between my fingers and examine it fully: a true bullet from the Civil War.

There were hundreds on our property, but to my 8-year-old mind, each one we found was easily worth $1,000 and was the rarest artifact in America. Of course, now I know they aren’t worth much, but in that moment, you couldn’t convince me that I hadn’t just found a diamond on our property. On our more exhilarating adventures, we found broken pieces of cannonballs and buttons from uniforms of the Confederate Army, and had those especially rare gemstones placed into a framed box to display proudly in my room. Though we may have ran out of places to search after a few summers worth of searching, the memory of those days in my childhood are easily worth the riches I thought I had found with each bullet uncovered from the ground.

Editor’s note: Want to join the 2019 Commemoration in celebrating women in service? Join us for the Virginia International Tattoo on April 25th, 2019.


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  1. AE Curator March 20, 2019

    Thank you for sharing your story! It’s incredible you and your father could bond over discovering Virginia’s rich history right in your backyard.


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