Results 1 to 20 of 45

Thread: The Pequot War Saga (finding history)

Threaded View

  1. #1
    Administrator del's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    The Pequot War Saga (finding history)

    I have been contemplating for some time to write about the hunts George (Coinnut) and I have been doing for some time now , these have taken up a lot of our usual cellar detecting time and very much limited our findings. Both he and i believe that this volunteer work is very much more important on so many levels , we have made some great new friends and give so much more respect (and have recieved it as well) to the archaeologists that we have worked with . they have treated us with great professionalism and converse with us like equals and often ask us what we think. i and George have learned so much about early colonial life both with the settler's and natives and through this and the renewed patience we've aquired while on these hunts i know we have become better detectorists. i very much hope you like the read.

    Here is a great narrative summry of the places , events (in historic order ), findings and even work still left to do on the project. The museum has really done an excellent job reserching and gathering information from historic accounts and artifacts to tell the story.

    also here is a nice interactive timeline of the the events that led up to and during the war.


    Some of you may know that about three years ago my local metal detecting club (the Yankee Territory Coinshooters) was approached by the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Museum to aid them in a project they were starting up in Mystic Connecticut. We were excited to help.

    University of Connecticut professor and Pequot Indian Museum archaeologist Dr Kevin McBride gave a very impressive presentation about the Pequot War. He offered information about this very early time in our country's history and the volatile existence between the English settlers of the Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut colonies and the Pequot Indian tribes. The main battle took place in 1637 at one of the Pequot Indian forts with the English making a hasty 6-mile retreat after the fight and burning of the fort with hundreds of enraged Indians in pursuit.

    Dr McBride then asked our help as metal detectorists in the locating of artifacts from these sites to better and more accurately document this very historic event and to show exactly where the boundaries of these events took place. He was very inspired by the battlefield archaeologists' success; they were a collaboration of detectorists and archaeologists who evaluated the site at General Custer's Last Stand at the Battle of the Little Big Horn some years earlier with great results. Dr McBride, in collaboration with the museum, was hoping for similar results from this battle site at the fort and to determine a retreat route for the English soldiers.

    Below are some links to more in depth info about this battle and war.

    Porter's Rock

    This was not the first site the club detected but it was an area of great importance. It was just a few miles from the Mystic fort area, where the English soldiers and their Indian allies camped for a few hours and prepared for the morning assault on the fort. They had marched most of the night, then rested and readied themselves for the battle before dawn. From this high craggy vantage point they could see the large camp fires from the fort and very possibly could hear the Pequot voices carry into the lower Mystic river harbor area.

    Porter's Rock is a very hilly place with high rocky outcroppings which overlooks much of the surrounding areas, including where the Mystic river joins with the ocean. Many interesting items have been lost over the years in this very beautiful area which has been used for hundreds of years by Indians, trappers, farmers, quarriers, hunters, and even kids having parties.

    The detecting was not particularly difficult, as there wasn't much EMI, but plenty of non-period targets (such as shotgun shells , modern iron trash, etc) posed a challenge. There were not a large number of 17th century items because the English and their allies only spent a few hours in the area; therefore, there was not a lot of time for items to be lost. We did recover cut brass scraps and even parts to a brass kettle (the eyelett where the wire handle went through) and some iron, including some knives and a button.

    Mystic Fort

    The fort site was on a large sloping hill overlooking the Mystic river. It was only a few acres in diameter, and the closely-thatched huts were surrounded by a walled wooden palisade that was said to be from 10 to 13 feet high. It likely looked somewhat like the below image, except that during times of war, they would have been closer together to allow more families the protection of the fort.

    The logs used for the wall were at least as big as a man's thigh and were firmly stuck vertically into the ground. There were only two entrances that could be easily defended on opposite sides of the circular fort. Below the hill, just before dawn, the two English captains split their party up to enter these openings and to surround the Pequots inside. Captain Mason's party had just reached the fort first when a barking dog alarmed one of the Pequot sentries. He shouted Englishmen ... Englishmen! to the still slumbering Pequots.

    Mason then ordered his men to fire a volley of gun fire from their matchlock muskets and they hastily proceeded to storm the small entrance. They quickly gained entry into the fort, where they faced heavy resistance form the fort defenders. Soon the 30 or so soldiers who made it into the structure were fighting hand-to-hand. The English soon realized that they had hugely underestimated the number of braves in the fort. After being overwhelmed and taking some casualties and wounded the English retreated, but not before they set some of the thatched huts on fire. The other English party, commanded by Captain Underhill, made its way to the other fort entrance at about the time the fire was started, although they never actually entered the fort due to the lack of surprise and heavy resistance from the Pequot defenders.

    The fire quickly engulfed the fort due to the tightly-placed thatched huts. It is estimated that approximately 400-800 Pequot Indians perished in the flames. Less than ten escaped to be taken as prisoners.

    The area now is an older residential neighborhood. Most of the dwellings were built around the beginning of the 20th century.

    Stone walls still remain from when it was farmland prior to the building of the residential area. There have been accounts of persons finding brass Indian points after the fields were plowed. It was a dectectorists' nightmare to hunt because of the EMI issues and the very dry mineralized ground. Nearby cell towers, automobile traffic, power lines, electric animal fences, and household appliances are just a few of the interferences that we had to overcome.

    This is the site where many of our detecting club members started out. Because of the very difficult conditions, and little or nothing to show for it in terms of finds, most did not return for another try.

    We spent weeks at this fort site during the first year, in various property owners' yards and around their homes. As a consequence, we met a lot of people who all had an interest in the local history.

    We were finding bits of iron and melted lead and musket balls (both dropped an impacted), including one with teeth marks from being chewed on.

    A few lucky club members even found the very prized brass arrow points and musket gun rests that the archaeologists coveted.

    All non-period items, such as coins, toys, and even a very old starting pistol -- as well as other personal items -- were returned to the property owners.

    One member of our club, Tom, made a great recovery and found two rare brass conical arrow points.

    Stream site retreat

    The above photo depicts an area to which the English marched after the battle. Westward down the the hill they found a cold stream of water to refresh themselves in the hot day, where they filled canteens and tended to the wounded they had carried from the fort. It was a good spot to rest up for a while before the long 6-mile hike to the ships waiting for them on the Thames river.

    Little did they know that just miles away, hundreds of Pequot Indian braves saw the smoke from the burning mystic fort. They were from one of the bigger forts a few miles away and had organized to converge upon the site to counter the English attack. The soldiers were completely surprised to hear and see these hundreds careening down the hill to their location. A skirmish ensued, with Mason's party dropping anything not necessary and defending themselves while retreating as fast as they could.

    This area is now wooded and was the focus of our second year detecting for this cause. It is a large place and it took many outings to narrow the exact spot where this event happened. There was more recent human activity here in the forms of grist mills, old house cellar foundations, stone quarrying, and farming and dumping. This evidence, as well as the dense forest foliage, made it very challenging to find any artifacts of the 17th century period. This was the place I started another machine choice because of the bad conditions at the fort site i had to do some homework on a new machines that would be little affected by emi and handle the mineralization. The machine I chose would be a good cannidate was the Whites Tdi sl a pulse induction with very limited discrimination , I felt it would be about perfect for the conditions and requirements . We were asked to dig everything iron and non-ferrous so this would be a great way to learn the machine as well. It didn't dissapoint either and the deeper smaller objects were more frequent and i would love to get another chance at the fort site with this machine , i know i could do much better there.

    After weeks we started to accumulate many items and received a glimpse of what had happened back on that fateful day. Musket ball of different calibers, many 17th century folding knives, and a few buttons, with one being a beautiful 17th century silver Dutch fillagree type, were found (see below).

    On the last hunt of 2011, just a few hundred yards away from the stream, George (coinnut) found the most complete rolled brass conical arrow point anyone had seen before -- which was the proof that the archaeologists were looking for to be sure that we were in the right place.

    Heres a cleaned up picture of the point Coinnut found with a fragment of the wooden shaft that was still inside it after some 378 years later.

    I also found a couple of iron tools about a hundered feet away from G's point an adz , a hammer adz and what looked like a trade ax all were very crude looking. the tools were found about 14 inches deep all together in the same hole and the final verdict is still out if they are from the 17th century period but we have found a touch or makers mark on the ax and soon we'll know.

    here is a couple of "cleaned" up pictures of the trade axe , notice the three touch marks or maker's mark.

    Student training

    The third year in this story starts out with George and me visiting the museum several times before any hunts, in order to give metal detecting presentations and some hands-on training out in the field to college students. Each year the museum receives a new batch of college students from the University of Connecticut who need field volunteer hours in order to earn their school credits. We showed them the different metal detectors up close and explained the basic fundamentals of how they work and how they might react in the field.

    The museum has purchased several detectors, pinpointers, and equipment from Andrew (New England Detectors), including several White's DFXs, a Minelab E-Trac, and a TDI SL. The students were able to view some of the items we had found on previous hunt sites. After this training and question/answer period, we met the students at one of the sites, a 17th century Indian village where other students were digging test pits and sifting, identifying and recording items found.

    Next the students were introduced to the machines and were allowed to try their hand at metal detecting for artifacts so they could see first-hand how detectors behave, communicate, and perform.

    It was great to see these young, enthusiastic people light up with excitement when the detector sounded off at a target and to help them recover something that might be a few hundred years old. Their proud looks and huge grins said it all when they found a keeper. They would then the item found, and two to three other students would come over to measure the depth and precise location within a 10 meter box. The artifact was then put into a plastic bag, along with some of the moist dirt to keep it from drying out, and then the students wrote all important information on the outside of the bag.

    Denison homestead

    This particular day George and I traveled down to Old Mystic Ct. to help detect and to further train students with the various machines. The place was different from the norm and I wasn't familiar with the site. It was the homestead of one Captain George Denison, who in 1654 was one of the first settlers of Mystic, CT and was granted this land by then Governor John Winthrop Jr. for service to the early militia. We had been asked to help in the finding of the old original barn that was around in the mid-to-late 1600's. It is a now very overgrown part of the woods just behind the newer 1717 house located somewhere.

    Denison was also the commander of 300 Connecticut horse-mounted Dragoons that played a pivotal role in King Phillip's War in the 1670's. This property also had a palisade-type fort where these soldiers were garrisoned and trained. Our main objective was to find a particular barn from that time period, and to find and recover any horse-related items from that era. Any evidence along these lines would help on a later hunt where these Dragoons engaged Phillip's forces at a battle site in Rhode Island -- a site we will be searching at a later time.

    George and I arrived and were asked to help and support the students with their detectors if so needed and to also do some detecting in our usual manner, including recovering targets in our usual manner and marking the spot with s for recording. Withing minutes I was finding nails, but not just the regular square nails I usually find at old cellar sites; these were very old hand-wrought iron rose head nails that were made before a certain time period in colonial America.

    It was not long before I recovered what looked like a very thin horseshoe fragment. It still had at least one nail attached to it. It was a little more rounded than a typical horseshoe but it was thinner and a little wider. Soon the archaeologist, Dr McBride, came up to where we were working and asked what we were finding. He pulled the iron horseshoe fragment out and said Wow, did you find this Dan? I stopped what I was doing and replied Yes; it's a bit different that the ones I have found before.

    Next Dr McBride told me that he was reasonably sure that this was from the 17th century because of its width and thickness. By this time everyone has stopped to see and hear about the find. As he explained more about it, the students passed it around to get a better look.

    Retreat Route Revisited

    The first day back at Mason's retreat site was destined to be good , although it was not in the area where George found the brass conical point we were still relatively close. George and I looked forward to detecting here in these woods again, since the last time when we came away with some great finds for the museum. We arrived at around 9AM and looked over the area that had been staked out in 10-meter blocks. After a few minutes I found and ged a shotgun shell and lead fragment, and started digging a nice, deeper-sounding non-ferrous target. At approximately 4.5 inches I pulled up a nice large musket ball.

    Dr McBride viewed the find and his eyes instantly lit up as he held it up for all to see. He said, That looks right... the right size, right color and patina, and it even has a slight impact where it hit something. By this time everyone had moved in close to get a better look as Dr McBride passed it around. Other finds included a button that may be atleast mid-1700's or older in age it was a very deep one at just over 8 and a half inches .

    Saturday June 23rd was another day spent in these woods , this day George and I found ourselves alone for the first hour or so as Dr. McBride was running a little late . We hit a spot that was close to the area we had detected last weekend , just some miscellaneous iron and shotgun shells for our troubles . Just before Kevin and a Guest ( a visiting new student from UCLA) had shown up i did recover a fairly deep 1 piece brass button , it was a very thin one and to me looked like another very old one and a good canidate for being the period we were looking for. George was using a new machine , a ctx3030 and was unsure he was getting good depth so he went over this button after i placed it back into the hole and covered it back up with dirt to keep it from oxidizing any more. Satisfied that he was hearing it loud an clear he congratulated me on the find and moved back to the area he was working. Dr. McBride was very pleased to see we found some targets in this area but i think he was pleased more that we didn't find tons of targets as this gives him a better idea as to where Captain Mason and the English were heading. it was a good day for me and that TDI SL , since getting it i have been more and more impressed with its capabilities and i think George is starting to hate it .lol lol

    Friday June 29th , George and i found ourselves traveling to Rhode Island to detect a battle site around a swamp . This was late in the King Philips War (1675-75) where 300 Connecticut horse mounted Dragoons and their Indian allies attack an ______ enemy campsite . there was a skirmish and then a long (3hour plus) battle in the nearby swamp

    1676 King Phillips war battle site

    June 29th , Coinnut and I are asked to help on another early battle site project , its a large battle that happened between Connecticut mounted soldiers (300 dragoons) and some of King Phillip's (Metacomet 's) indian braves . This was an English offensive that forced the Indians into a large swamp where a long dragged out 3 hour fire fight took place.

    We first get there and wait for all the students and archaeologists and walk down to the area skirting around a large lowlands and swamp .

    I took a few shots of the area the students had been working for the past week thay are doing test pits and sifting and also detecting in the narrow grids . The field specialists have set it up this way for them to make it easier for them to cover and area without missing anything.

    Well just as we get to the spot the rain clouds open up and it down pours good for 40 minutes , some of the young people cover the gear and detectors and proceed to make a tent out of plastic to keep themselves dry. George , myself , Dr. McBride , Dave Nuemek ( archaeologist) and Kevin Garrison (field crew specialist) all stand out in the downpour like idiots and talk about the layout of the area and what exactly took place when the English attacked. We were soaked but the conversation was good after about an hour the rain subsided and we walked to the area Mr. McBride wanted us to start , it was a narrow stretch of land that was flanked by a large steep hill on one side and the edge of the swamp on the other. this is where he thought half of the dragoons charged into the indian camp . George and i picked our side to work and G turned on his machine and took one step and gets a good sounding target , immediately pulls out a lead musket ball . Of course Mr.McBride can't believe it and gives George a look like he's full of something , G holds up the ball and Kevin's just shakes his head and smiles. A few minutes later G has another then another all with in a ten feet area and all are .35 to .45 caliber in size . Later after about an hour i get my first then second their a little bigger atleast .40 to .45 caliber . At some point between my second and George's third i did happen to turn around because of some comotion going on to see Dr. McBride and George embraced in some kind of hugging going on ?? . I yell out to them I don't even want to know what just went on over there lol lol. i was informed that i didn't see anything and it never happened lol rofl , the things you see when you don't have your camera ready . Well the day ended with us recovering 9 musket ball and alot of iron pieces or fragments for them to analyze , needless to say they were very happy of the days end results and i was informed that i get a hug from Kevin if i find that elusive brass point at the retreat site. lol lol

    Friday July 6th , George and I were back in the woods sweeping for signs of evidence that Captain Mason 's column of English and Native allies passed through this particulr area. It was already very warm at 9 am and was only gonna get more humid and hotter as the day went on. The bugs were awful between the deer flies and mosquitos you had to stay moving or they were all over you and it didn't help that you'd stirr them all up out of the ferns with every swing of the coil. verreaction: It wasn't long before I had some targets , a couple pieces of suspicious lead fragments and some odd bits of iron , George did find a very old looking one piece button and a musket ball.
    He wasn't very happy with his ctx as the ball was barely three inches and he got almost no signal that it was there from the machine and no matter what he tried he could get it to sound any better , he is not liking this machine down in this area of the state nor for this kind of detecting. I did find what looked like an iron toy gun it looked at first like a cast iron half to it but turned out to be a complete cast iron toy from about the late 1920's or 30's and i told Dave to go tell George that i found a gun just to get his shorts in a bunch. lol rofl

    Dave played it out very well and had G going for a bit . rofl lol It did seem that George was going to have the finds of the day though , until i pulled out an old small iron buckle it was very rusted over and distorted but i felt it was a good cannidate for being a period piece , an x-ray should varify it true shape and era and i'll know soon. Three pm came pretty quick and i was called out to that we were ready to pack it in to meet Dr. McBride , he had planned a get together party at his house for the last day of the &quotattle field archaeology field school for the volunteer students and George and I were invited as we have gotten to know quite a few of them pretty well. Well i yelled back to Dave N. (the man in charge for the day) that i was digging my last target , they dissapeared out of my sight and down the hill . the target was a large piece of iron by the sound of my TDI SL it was near a stone wall and i dug down to see what looked like a semi pointed thick iron knife blade . it was about 6 inches deep but i couldn't remove it , it wiggled around some but was caught on something , i pried out a good sized stone and choped a few roots with my predetor shovel. Finally at what seemed like ten minutes i got it cleared and pulled it up and instantly recognized it , I said to my self holy #@%$ its a lock plate then i yelled out to the others who were waiting down the hill for me hey i found a gun lock plate .

    Heres a picture of a lock plate that this may have looked similar to , it is the firing mechanism to a flintlock musket the one i found is missing the hammercock that would of held the flint. the long elbowed piece across from the hammer is called the frizzen and it is stll clearly visible on the first and smaller of the two lockplates.

    It was scarey just how fast they converged on my position George , Dave N. and two students ,Dave got to me first i handed him the piece and he was all wide eyed with excitement and stated it still has the Frizzen attached. i went over the hole with the tdi again and again it let off a loud iron tone , i stated that i think the side plate or another part was still in the hole. As i'm digging he's on the phone with Dr. McBride , George and the students are around me as i pull out a 3 inch long triangular piece of iron (maybe a spring or file) and i know that was not the loud sound i heard on my machine . I get another presents of iron from my probe and in the next few minutes I recover another lock plate <: this one is very noticeably larger than the first , i gave that to one of the students to hold as i went over the hole again and again it sqawked of iron . This target was a large curved item that none of us could positively identify , by this time the area was clear of large iron but there was still small bits (we would leave them for next time ) about a foot and a half away i get another loud target but this one was somewhat different sounding.

    This one turned out to be a large sheet of thin brass with holes cut into it , a very intersting piece Dave informed me . Running late for the party Dave and the students quickley recorded the finds and bagged them up but not before i got a few pictures and we were out headed toward the Kevin's house for the picnic / party.

    The party was already in full swing by the time we got there but from the mood it seemed like everyone heard what we were bringing to it and they were anxious to see the goodies. I got to take a couple more pictures as they were inspecting the lock plates and brass sheet.

    After conversing some Kevin looked around and said out loud wheres Dan , wheres that guy at the crowd of students part and he looks over and says come on you earned one as he opens his arms for a hug . I said oh boy i get the rare and famous Kevin McBride hug lol lol so I give him a big embrace (sorry no pictures to protect the innocent or for George to blackmail me with lol rofl rofl) as he then tells me what a day you had , well done . It was great to talk about detecting , archaeology and the Pequot project with so many of the young people for the next few hours Kevin put on a great picnic and George and i didn't get home until 10:30 that night.

    This Friday we got the call to head up to the museum to meet Dave N. and to maybe see some x-rayed items that we have found recently. We met Dave but his Head of Conservation Doug C. was in a meeting and he wasn't sure when he would be free so we were asked to go down the road back to the late 17th century Indian villiage . This was where George and I trained alot of the students on detectors and where i took pictures of them up above doing actual digs on test pits and sifting techniques , well they had found an area of interest in a good sized field and focused thier attention on this particular spot. The land is going to be used soon to build a house or two on so they have to finish up with the property before the owner's start the construction. George and I were detecting over areas that have been gone over two , three or more times by students and i must say they did a pretty good job. After finishing up some of the required grids with very little to show ( a good thing) , we were given the green light to wander around where they did a lot of test pits . I was picking up a lot of targets here but most were tiny stainless steel staples but at first i wasn't sure why i was finding them , between George and I we must of had about a dozen or so and then Heather , one of the students said they used the sifters and they had stapled the fine mesh screens to the bottoms of the wooden boxes. Even though they were so small that TDI hit very hard on them all , i did recover some very small brass scraps (probably fell through the sifting screen holes) and small iron . This didn't make the field crew happy to hear this news but it probably does happen more than they knew , its another lesson they have discovered as the metal detector can do to help them recover more targets even after a dig. One thing I did find was this brass item its about the right size and shape of an arrow point ( but no hole in it verreaction and it might have been cut to be used as an arrow point before it was lost by the Pequot Native that was making it it was definately cut from a brass kettle almost 350 years ago .

    This item was too big to fall through the sifting screens and it shocked the field crew to know that one or two of the students may have accidently thrown it out with the dirt , it was only about an inch and a half deep in the loose dirt-tailings from a test pit.

    Update the brass item was confirmed to be a point by the lab and archaeologist , Dr. McBride it officially makes it my first Pequot brass arrow point <: something i've been striving to find .

    Dave came out around three pm and asked that if we still wanted to come to the labs and see some pictures , the field crew was winding down and had to take measurements and record all the finds we had found so it seemed like a good time to go. We met up with Doug C. at the lab and viewed some x-rays of the lock plates i had found the week earlier plus some other items .

    Its amazing how the x-ray machine will make the iron reveal its true size and demensions and even the different thickness of the item will be shown.The lock plates could now be seen with all the holes from springs , screws , bolts and one looks like it may have been repaired a couple of times from the arangement of close together holes. One of the items in the other x-ray looked like a match lock fuse arm lever (which i high lighted with red on upper right side the other two items high lighted are 17th century folding knives) , which was a very cool to view.

    It was great to see the items and talk to Dave and Doug about some of the artifacts found as it turns out they will have to research both lockplates to really narrow down the actual time for these . They seem to overlap in dates made by some time so the verdict is officially inconclusive at the moment but i'll keep you all informed when i find out .

    Nipsachuck RI.

    George and I spent most of the summer scouring the area around a large swamp
    for signs of a large battle that took place while other volunteers from our club (Ken , Tom and a few others) have remained at the 1637 Mason's retreat site to continue the search efforts there . King Phillip's war was around 1675-76 and it was here the native Indians had a small temporary villiage set up to hide from their English persuers. it was the first time that Military horse back calvary was used in the new world to fight an enemy , 300 Connecticut dragoons with native allies managed to surround and surprise this temporary villiage. A gun fight broke out and most of Phillip's braves fled into the swamp only to regroup on a small piece of high ground in the middle of the swamp. The Connecticut militia managed to surrounded the entire swamp and a three to four hour stalemate ensued with both sides exchanging gun fire .

    well the hunts have been slow going and sporatic at times , in total we have recover some 40 to 60 musket ball , some fired and some obviously dropped . the Museum staff have done an amazing job of clearing the dense New England woods of North Smithfield R.I. , it seems each time we visit there is a new patch of forest opened up to do .

    it has helped imensely to as we seem to recover more good targets after they clear the brush.

    i have to give the young staff members a lot of credit as they battle the mosquitos , poison ivy , the occasional hornets nest and the heat for this cause and still manage to demonstrate a lot of enthusiasm , excitement and high moral .

    i wish i had some great extrodinary find i could share with you all but its been pretty quiet with just an occasional few lead musket ball here and there and very few copper or brass scraps to be found . at one point George and i went in to the swamp in hopes to find the bigger iron targets that may have fallen from escaping Braves trying to get away from the firing Dragoons. Heres a shot of us right before we go in , wearing garbage bags tapes to our thighs we were ready for anything lol rofl and boy did i feel stupid rofl rofl rofl

    i can honestly say it was the most difficult detecting conditions i have ever experienced in my life , around the swamp it is very densely grown and the mud and muck is from knee to thigh deep and more than a few times i thought i was gonna get stuck , fall over, lose a boot or worse , needless to say there was a potential danger doing this .A spot like this you would think it was devoid of all targets except for the ones left by the combatants but unfortunately this area like most the rest has been used by loggers , farmers , hunters for the last three hundered years and they have dropped or fired a lot in that time frame.
    In the last several weeks we have recovered about 40 to 50 musket ball , oxen shoes , farming and logging tools but nothing definative to say this is the actual spot , i can only hope that changes very soon.

    Back to Mason's Retreat

    For the last couple of Fridays George and I have been called back to Pequot woods to help out in locating the difinative boundrys of the Capt. Mason's English and native ally column.The archaeologists have been getting a pretty good turnout of volunteer detectorists from my local club (YTC) who have been searching areas of these woods . Unfortunately they haven't been to productive but there have been a few exceptions , some interesting items have been recovered but some are not related to the battle or Mason's retreat. George and i's first visit back to the retreat area was a nice breakand we were asked to hit an area that was detected before (and not muched was found ) but the museum's historian Dave N. just felt that there was more in that area. It was a low lying area with lots of large rocks and these rocks are very mineralized and give most machines problems with falsing or nulling so things can be missed very easily by VLF detectors.That first day was called off short due to heavy rains and lightning but George and i both recovered items for the museum , George got atleast one large musket ball and i had one heavy splattered impacted large ball and a smaller dropped one . Also i picked a very good target that wasn't four feet from someone elses dig hole , it was a deep older type button and probably missed because of the bad conditions and sang out on the TDI. The next friday was pretty uneventful as we were moving further out away from where the archaeologist thought the retreat column traveled ,by not finding relative items in these areas confirms their theories of how Mason and the English traveled through the terrain . It can be very boring but as i've been told by Dr. McBride before not finding stuff can be a very good thing lol lol . This past friday George and i got a chance to go back to where i found the old iron tool cache and George found the beautiful brass conical arrow point , this was the first time we've been back since last December and were chomping at the bit to get back out to this spot. This area was just before the small brook where Mason's men refilled canteens tended wounded and where they first heard the 300 plus enraged Pequots comming down the hill from the burnt fort. George found a dropped brass conical arrow point last year , a point thats beenconfirmed to be exclusively used by one of Mason's central Connecticut river Indian allies and proving that Mason was here . The area since that time has been farmed in the early and mid 1800's and was used for dumping in the late 1800's , so there are plenty of iron nails , broken bottles , tin cans and such now. My first target was a huge horseshoe ( from a draft horse) at about a foot down , three more shoes were recovered by me before the end of the day lol lol . i did find a very small brass bell and one very large bell with pat. Jan.21 1850 embossed on the top edge since it wasn't a period item Dave let me keep'em .

    Then toward the end of the day in dramatic fashion George and i both found targets , his was one of the larger round ball from one of the English's muskets and i thought i had found part of a brass conical point (broken) so i called Dave over to get a second opinion. I said hey Dave i got a very interesting small brass piece knowing that always gets his attention lol lol .

    he immediately comes over to investigate and i said doesn't that look like a tip to a conical ?? its pretty close he says . as i recheck the hole with my pinpointer i vibrates to let me know theres more and i said to Dave hey i might have more of the point here as i carefully remove the soil with my pocket knife i see the back end of the arrow point . Dave immediate recognizes it and says yeah this small piece is the flared end broken off and thats the rest of the point .

    these are very brittle and fragile after some 378 years in the ground so i let Dave remove a bit more dirt to we can more easily recognize it , it was pointed down at an angle probably from it being launched at an intended person on that fateful day. Dave and George both give me a huge congrats and handshake then Dave calls Dr. McBride and with a lot of excitement they both decide to leave the point in the ground until the next day so they can do all the fact finding ( angle flight and trajectory of the arrow) , they will get a huge amount of information because of its position in the ground . only two other detectorists have found a conical points both are very experienced detectorist from our club and both welcomed me into their ranks yesterday. i hope to have much better pictures of the point when its conserved.

    For the next few weeks George and i have been back and forth from the Mystic 1637 Pequot War site and the Rhode Island 1675 King Phillip's War site, working two totally different places and eras . At the Mystic site i retrieved a large caliber round ball (.60+) plus some suspected iron and a shoe buckle that still has to be looked at very closely . The Rhode Island site I have gotten a couple of really huge musket balls both .70+ caliber and a good sized flat button , the last two items were very crucial to the survey and helped to provide more information about the site . This required some very dangerous foot-work through a swamp of thickets to get on an island for some detecting , this was very awkward and loosing your balance was a real threat and getting a $1200 dollar machine wet or ruined was very possible . I was luck both going out and back as i just had wet shoes and feet , George was the smart one and had been wearing waders but even he admitted that there were spots where he thought he was firmly stuck in the mud lol lol. Not a lot of YTC members have been to the Phillip's swamp site I think mainly to due with its difficulty of detecting and i can honestly say its been the most difficult and hazardous for this hobbyist. I have to really hand it to George (Coinnut) as he has been to these areas about twice as much as I (my schedule just won't permit but one outing per week with the museum guys) and he has done well for both projects . The mystic project has been moving east (toward the fort site) into a housing development , with property owner's permission we've been detecting the yards. The yards are mostly disturbed ground with lots of fill dirt brought in . Lots of modern trash , coins and toys all from the last 50 or so years has come to surface from around these houses. George and I have stayed just in the woods between where the last conical point was found and the houses and even though these have been searched over many times by numerous detectorists we have still both found some good finds .

    Many fragments of period lead and more than a few musket ball have been recovered , each one marked and gps'ed and i'm very interested to see the map of period targets found.

    (This was one of the last large musket ball .68 calibur found this past friday , although it looks dropped it was a fired round)

    (This is a 6 foot long slab of granite i had to take a picture of its has been quarried from a stone and was apparently never recovered by the stone cutters , it must weigh four to five hundered pounds. it just weird seeing this out in the middle of nowhere.)

    ( Here is what a typical days worth junk that you find out in these woods , over fifty shotgun shells and smaller brass casings , .22 or larger lead bullets , more modern nails and iron junk. on this particular day i won the shotgun shell title over George lol
    Dave the weapons historian was amazed at how much we find )

    The winter cold is setting in and the projects are both winding down for the season and between George , the rest of the YTC members and myself the museum has thousands of items to study , x-ray , research and theorize about . I'm pretty sure the projects are close to being completed and we will be moving on to others very soon (possibly next spring) .I'm sure we will be able to visit the labs over the winter and get a good look at the artefacts and i'll keep you all informed about any new developments that may come up.

    Fort Weinshaunks

    The large war party of Pequots that came up on Mason's expedition just after the battle and burning of the Mystic fort came from the nearby Groton area fort "Weinshaunks" some three miles away. It was a larger fort that housed the their cheiftain or "sachem" and many warriors. These Braves heard the shots fired that morning in May 1637 and they rallied to help their people , they soon arrived at the burnt fort to see the bodies of men , women and children admist the ashes. Angered and enraged they stormed onto the trail of the english clashing with them repeatedly for the next several miles.

    George and I got a friendly email from Dave Neumec (the Museum military historian) asking if we were ready to start up the new year. We were told of the Groton Pequot fort ( Weinshaunks) and that we would have a chance to detect it , I was very excited to detect another Indian palisade type fort. George and I had hoped it would of been in a woods like setting away from anything modern but unfortunately it was just off one of the oldest roads in Connecticut , in a very over grown area , very trashy with much emi.

    George , Dave and I detected all day and found lots of metal garbage from the 1900's , a few brass "whats its" that the lab will have to look at closer but for a first day at this site I think it was a bust. we will be comming back at some time to further look around I'm sure

    Captain Mason's continued retreat route

    April 12th Mason's retreat "the last engagement"

    This site we were told about only a few days before , it was known as the "the sheep pasture" , an area that was a farm at one time with lots of fields. Supposedly Dave N. (the museum's military historian) was told the place had been "mowed" because of the briar patches that were everywhere , so we had to move fast before the stuff starts to grow back.

    We got there met up with a Bob and fellow member and shortly Mike "the cannon" shown up as well. I Gave Mike the nicname "the cannon" after he discovered a large iron cannon fragment at one of the Fort Saybrook hunts .
    We all started right away and went in different directions with hopes to uncover the usual retreat relics ,musket ball , brass points being high on the list. I wasn't far from the old house dwelling and the ground was just littered with metal trash , pulltabs canslaw , iron nail bits , foil and a number of other things including coins were everywhere. Apparently after the farm expired the grounds were turned into a local picnic spot, so after a couple of hours I had my fill of digging junk and moved off further away. I knew the far out fields would be a lot quieter and I tried my luck out in some of these for a few more hours , shotgun shells large iron pieces and the occasional scrap of junk were on the menu .

    The leaf litter on the forest floor was pretty deep in some areas and with the emi (from a local airport) and the heavy mineralized ground the old dfx didn't seem to find anything very deep. After seeing George and exchanging "find anything good" remarks we dicided to go up to the car and get the other machines , seems his Minelab CTX was giving him some issues ( coil not detected error) and I was ready to break out the Whites TDI SL . we had a snack for lunch with Mike and Bob , talked about the finds so far and it seemed we had all struck out , after lunch George and i headed back down to where he had found some brass scraps . George stayed down low near the stream to rehit the area with the e-trac and i stayed up on the slope working my away from him leaving him all the low ground.

    A few hours had passed and I hit an area that was a bit busy picking up some interesting iron pieces , recovering and flagging more iron all the while finding shotgun shells here and there. I hit a "brass nail" it was about 2 1/2 to 3 inches long I thought it odd a brass nail with no head , so i flagged it and continued to work the area. A while later I hit a nice nonferrous target that screamed on the tdi , it sounded shallow so i assumed it to be another shotgun shell but soon realized it was a deeper piece of brass and soon i recognized it as most of a shoe buckle , a very very small and old one at that.

    To me it looked well into the 1600's from the size and design and as soon as i flagged it and took a step i hit another similar sounding target , thinking i found the other half i quickly recovered the item but was dissappointed that it was just a brass flat scrap piece. At this time I decided to give George a call , he was interested in some of the items i recovered and soon was headed my as it was getting late in the day. When he saw the brass "nail" he said "you know what this looks like" , by this time it had dried out some revealing a seam down the length and now looking hollow. I shrugged my shoulders and said "no I haven't a clue", George said it looked like a brass rolled "bead" very similar to one found a couple of years ago at Porter's Rock (another key site in the Pequot war's historic story account). He explained how it was a rolled piece of brass that was then strung onto a "chest plate" of many more of these beads.

    Due to developement (interstate highway , modern roads and buildings , built dam and lake we can no loger follow the trail of the English party to their awaiting ships.This is the most western point of the retreat trail that we can detect.

    April 25th Mason's retreat " swamp ambush"

    This day found us at about a mile or two east or before the "sheep pasture" area where the buckle fragment and brass "bead" was found about two weeks before.This area had recently became a priority as the land will be developed after the summer with new condos , it was across from the main retreat area we left off (about a year ago) and on the other side of a residential neighborhood and main road. We were asked to hit a wooded area around some very small swamps to try an pick up the trail of Captain Mason , the English and their Native allies as they were being threatened and attacked by hundreds of enraged Pequot warriors.

    It was just Dave N. (museum military historian , archaeologist ) George , I and detecting club member and friend Mike "the cannon" , just four of us to start the search of a very large area of woods. Dave had a nice topicgraphical map to show us and with his theory and written accounts of the battle , he thought the english would avoid the larger swamp areas and try to stick to higher ground while skirting the lowlands. The day was slow going I was using the TDI SL and there was tons of shotgun shells and .22 lead just about everywhere.I found myself wandering parts of the woods with the detector with hopes of stumbling onto a busy area but deep into forest it was surprisingly pretty quiet. about an hour later I came back over the hill to see George not far from where he started with a few flag holes. I asked "what you got on over there"? He said he had a couple of smaller round ball and I immediately started working the hill side on the opposite side of the small brook of him . Within a few minutes I had a roundball myself and soon had about three more not far from the first and before this good day was over I had about 13 round ball and about as much as George . Mike had gotten four himself , Dave was happily amazed with our results inspecting each projectile closely and determining if they were dropped , fire and what it may have hit.Yes it was a very good day!!

    While we were detecting we were wondering why almost all the ammo was a smaller caliber (mostley .30 to .50 caliber) then the Mystic fort site and the first engagement these areas had the smaller sizes but were prominently .50 to .70. Dave explained it could of been for a few reasons but the best was that after the main skirmish the Indians kept a good distance from the English guns , they were smooth bore barrel matchlocks, flintlocks and even wheel locks and after 40 or 50 yards not very accurate. The English adapted and loaded three or four smaller caliber round ball and have a greater chance of hitting a target at further distances. George went back to this site with Dave and Mike April 30th and found about another dozen or more roundball between the two of them.

    May 2 again at Mason's retreat " swamp ambush"

    After all the lead rounds coming from this place Dave is convinced its where Mason's column was ambushed by some Pequots . The English and allies were being chased from behind but some of the Pequot natives must of made there way around to the front of Mason's group to hide it the brush, reeds and thickets along this swampy small brook . It was thin neck of woods , one of the few areas to go to avoid the much larger swamps that lay to the north and south and they had to make their way to the ships before nightfall.They were traveling slower because of the injured they had to carry and had to travel along the easier terrain .

    With new focus we started here and again and almost immediately picked up more round shot , George found a nice little patch that had some larger dropped round ball . I use the tdi sl to go in between the rocks and larger stones and boy i was finding them some right up against the rocks where they impacted some 370+ years ago . Both the Minelab machines (ctx and e-trac) had a difficult time picking up one particular round ball i found an inch or so from a large boulder , the mineralization from these granite looking stones is awful for the vlf machines. George's spot was where a few dropped larger caliber round ball maybe representing a firing line and the round ball where i was finding were about 30 yards away going toward the brook. One particular musket ball even looked like it may have been chewed on prior to it being fired and I'm sure it will be scrutinized closely by the lab specialist and conservator.

    May 9th Again at Mason's retreat ambush

    This day started off with the threat of rain , George picked me up and had a friend of ours and fellow club member Mike C. with him. We arived at the site at 9a.m. to be greeted by Dave N. , Kevin M. and Angel from the museum , all were very impressed at the last five outings at thei particular site. In the last five visits we collectively found more than 70 musket ball of various calibers and George the day before had found a jesuit ring .

    (sorry no picture of the jesuit ring at this time)

    Jesuit rings were rings made of brass or copper that were usually given to the Native Americans as gifts or tokens of friendship to gain influence or trust by religious priests or clergy and to influence or convert them to christianity. An item like this is "period" and could of been worn by a native ally of Mason's party or even one of the enemy Pequots and is an amazing find .

    We started detecting about 60 to 80 yards up further from where the majority of the last round ball were found. I wished everyone luck and no sooner turned on my machine and i had a small sized round ball (.35 to .40 caliber) and again not at all deep. I was thinking it was going to be another "roundball find fest" but that was it for a few hours ,with the exception of odd lookng iron ,.22 bullet lead and shotgun shells. At this point (only about three hours) into our hunt my li-ion battery died which was very unexpected it usually lasts about 6 hours , apparently it did not fully charge so in went the whites ni-mh battery . This fully charged one lasted another three hours but that is usual for these as the tdi sl drains a lot of power , by this time George had found what we all were looking for . I wasn't far from him when he called to me that he had a "point" or he was "pretty sure" lol lol , I said "oh yeah with out a doubt its a point" .

    It had some "nose" damage from probably being fired and hit something and he immediately called out to Dave to have a look over here. Dave sensing the urgency in George's call ran over and was a very happy guy "finally , there had to be some here after all this shooting" he triumphantly shouted. Not long after , Mike C. approached George and asked about what the point looked liked and aked if it looked like the one he was holding , George confirmed that what Mike had found did look like a point. It was a large one with no hole though ,

    so again Dave was called to varify , catalog and bag it . It was a beauty as was George 's and I congratulated them both with handshakes and hoping it was my turn next to score a point . I changed the battery once again (thanks to dave stealing the museum's dfx battery pack) so i could continue a bit longer . It was a good thing too because I soon hit a couple of very interesting iron targets inbetween the two pints found and then i found a very nice brass powder horn spout .

    I've never found this type of spout and was very excited of its age because of the other items recovered this day , again Dave came over to look and was also very excited about it.

    more to come soon on the retreat.....

    Last edited by del; 09-22-2015 at 04:02 PM.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts