Accidental Archaeological Discoveries

Another Artifact Anecdote by Assistant State Archaeologist, John Mintz

Sometimes an inadvertent artifact discovery captures the attention of site staff and visitors alike.  Such was the case on June 9, 2008, at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site, when four members of the United States Marine Corps Explosive Disposal Ordnance Team from Camp Lejeune uncovered a complete (albeit rusted and corroded) 1859 model Austrian Lorenz Bayonet. The EOD Team was searching for unexploded Civil War-era munition prior to an archaeological investigation into the construction techniques of the earthen fortifications at Fort Anderson by the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology.  Rather than finding explosives, the Marines discovered a firearm element specific to a key period of the site’s interpretation.

The quadrangle socket bayonet was attached by a diagonal mounting slot to the muzzle of a .54 caliber, percussion lock, muzzle loading, Austrian Lorenz rifled musket.  The Confederate Army issued as many as 100,000 of this type of musket to its troops.  It is probable that this bayonet and the rifled musket came to North Carolina’s coast along with troops initially stationed at either Fort Holmes on Baldhead Island or Fort Caswell, located on Oak Island.  Those soldiers retreated to Fort Anderson in mid-1864. 

The discovery and subsequent conservation of this bayonet were very fortuitous and timely.  The accidental find is slated to form the centerpiece of an exhibit at Fort Anderson, beginning in the fall of 2011, in recognition of North Carolina’s commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War.


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This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on September 20, 2011, in archaeology, Exhibitions, guest bloggers, historic sites and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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