On February 23, 1861, voters approved an ordinance that called for Texas to secede from the United States. The firing on Fort Sumter in April of 1861 marked Texas' official entry into the American Civil War as a Confederate state. Confederate relic hunters can find an abundance of Civil War artifacts all over East Texas. Though many of the battles fought occurred along the coast, East Texas played a vital role in defending the state against Union attacks.
Places to Hunt for Relics
Waterways are a good starting point for Confederate relic hunting in East Texas. Both Confederate and Union armies established camps along lakes and creeks to provide soldiers and horses with fresh water. The Sabine and Neches rivers provided vital routes for coastal supply deliveries and were routinely patrolled. Areas close to forts and camps like Camp Cureton in present day Archer City, as well as areas where skirmishes occurred, can also yield relics. Contact local historical societies and museums to find out about any areas that may have been important during the Civil War.
Relic Hunting Methods and Tools
There are several methods used in relic hunting. Screen digging requires a hunter to shovel dirt into a bucket and sift it through a screen. The sifted dirt will fall through the screen, leaving relics and other large debris on top of the screen. Hand digging requires hunters to use shovels and other hand tools to dig into the ground in search of relics. Metal detectors are also used to locate buried metal objects. Once a metal detector detects an object, the relic hunter will mark the area and begin digging.
Relic Hunting Tips
Relic hunters will have better luck hunting Confederate relics in areas where the soil has been disturbed. Plowed fields, construction sites and areas of soil erosion are good places to start. The importance of water sources during the Civil War makes creek and river beds a good location to search as well. Constantly churning water can expose sunken relics or deposit them along the shoreline.
Texas Laws on Relic Hunting
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission regulations require anyone hunting artifacts on property belonging to the state or any city, county or political subdivision of the state to obtain a permit from the Antiquities Committee prior to digging. This permit must be present and in possession of the permit holder at the dig site. The regulations also require a permit for the use of metal detectors on state property. Relic hunting on private property requires the written consent of the property owner.
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