Napoleon Cannon Ball Metal Detecting Find (6/7)
Then I came to an area where obviously someone had dug before. The soft, wet, dark ground at the creek makes it impossible to conceal any digging. Inevitably you will leave black holes. Some day it will be concealed by freshly grown grass but this will take at least some weeks.
There was a black hole some 50 cm / 20” in diameter. I detected the area and got a signal but it was inconclusive. Multiple targets, pretty deep. Did other detectorists dig that hole? Looking back, I think that this is very well possible.
After digging in the mud and hindered by tree roots too thick to cut I recovered, one after one, seven more dropped (not fired) musket balls. In this muddy environment there was so little oxygen that they hardly developed any corrosion. By the way, my small cable locator (insensitive hand detector purchased for $20 at a do-it-yourself shop) was a great help doing so.
Just a few meters away from the musket ball deposit I detected a large object. Expecting another horseshoe I started to dig. When the hole was 30 cm / 12” deep I tried to detect the object with my hand detector. I got a signal but hand digging did reveal no metal. It had to be deeper. I deepened the hole to 40 cm / 16”. Then my fingers touched a hard, black, rough, surface. What was it? The more of the object was revealed the more a spherical shape came to light. Immediately I had a certain hope. Something I was after since the beginning of my detecting hobby. The heart beat increased. I got my digital camera, inserted it into the hole and made this picture:
A smelly iron sphere – “oh God please let it be a cannon ball!!”
Shortly afterwards the object was recovered. Indeed, it was a ball from a 15cm / 6” howitzer complete with fuse!. My first intact cannon ball!
The following pictures where taken immediately after the recovery. That hour it saw the first light in 200 years.
At the top the fuse is clearly visible. It was a wooden tube of variable length filled with gun powder. Before the ball was fired the tube was cut to the desired length. The greater the distance to the enemy the longer the tube so the gun powder inside needed longer to burn through. The fuse was automatically ignited when the ball was shot. Ideally, it exploded some 10 m over the enemy.
Note that the thing is pretty heavy. Usually my fingers are straight…
To fit best the fuse was surrounded by some fabric.
These are the organic parts of the grenade fuse, essentially 200 year old wood. The fuse was so brittle and at the same time so tightly inserted that it fell apart when removed.
A group picture of the found items in find state.
(C) Thorsten Straub www.metal-detecting.de 2006-2011.