Artifacts Found At Franklin’s Battle Park
By Kathryn Jorgensen
(October 2009 Civil War News)
FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Thanks to discoveries after metal detector surveying of former golf course sand traps on the Eastern Flank of the Franklin Battlefield, a Franklin City Alderman wants to require such surveys of any historical land before it is developed.
Alderman Mike Skinner said such surveys would not be at a developer’s expense and would allow recovered artifacts to be removed for preservation and study.
Skinner was inspired by the August survey report that Gregory L. Wade presented to the City of Franklin Parks Department which directed the metal detector survey of the city-owned tract.
The Eastern Flank survey was preceded by a similar survey a year ago on Harlinsdale Farm, which the city bought for a park. Wade said members of the Civil War preservation community sought an opportunity to verify military activity on the Harlinsdale Farm property.
He and three others searched for only four hours in a 2-acre area and found a U.S. buckle and minie balls of various calibers.
Based on that successful experience and relationship, the Parks Department’s Deanne Scheffel this year asked Wade if he would like to organize a relic survey on the Eastern Flank park land where former Franklin Country Club sand traps were being removed.
It is known that Confederates crossed the 110-acre tract before entering into some of the Battle of Franklin’s heaviest fighting and they were attacked by artillery from Fort Granger. Franklin’s Charge preservation coalition bought the $5 million property in 2005 to prevent its development when the country club was put up for sale.
Wade contacted a small group to join him in documenting combat activity. Five of them spent a day in June searching sand traps near the club house and turning up modern trash, pipes and wiring.
Wade searched alone a second day on ground where a road that entered Carnton Plantation from the Lewisburg Pike once ran. In a sand trap in that area he found pottery shards, two ax heads, nails, bricks, charred iron and the like.
The third day two of the survey team found more cooking ware fragments and pipe from the golf course drainage system. Then Michael Johnson’s detector gave a signal for iron and he found a 6-pdr. cannon ball 18-20 inches deep.
More days of searching turned up more trash, then some good finds including the base of an exploded Hotchkiss shell, one round of iron grape shot and a shell fragment. All of these were documented with GPS coordinates, photos and descriptions that Wade provided based on reference sources.
As the survey wound down with additional detecting days in July another projectile fragment and small button were among the finds. Altogether about 40 man-hours was spent metal detecting.
Wade’s report to the city speculated that additional evidence of battle, such as projectile fuses or sabots, were still deep in the ground or had been excavated before the golf course was built.
He recommended that the city consider further surveying of the property whenever dirt is to be moved and that the property be posted against use of metal detectors by the general public.