🥇 BANNER 17th Century Ball Pouch Contents - Colonial Warfare Frozen in Time

Silver Tree Chaser

Bronze Member
Aug 12, 2012
1,371
2,990
🥇 Banner finds
8
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
The first find from a few weeks ago came soon enough – a fired musket ball recovered only a five minutes into my search. It was immediately followed by a much-deteriorated lug handle from a copper cauldron dating back to the 17th century. These were promising finds, but further signals proved elusive as I wandered around about the woods for the next two hours or so. I desperately hoped for further indication of an early site that had also seen action during King Philip’s War, a devastating conflict that raged throughout New England from 1675 to 1676. It was a war of annihilation between ever-encroaching English settlers and Native American tribes – the Wampanoags, The Nipmucs, and the Narragansetts, along with smaller sub-tribes. The war is named after the sachem of the Wampanoag, Metacomet, who started the uprising; he was given the Christian name of Philip by the English.

Mindful of my research :icon_study: and convinced that the initial finds were no fluke, I redoubled my efforts and eventually recovered a large fragment of thick brass. I then soon after came upon another promising signal at the base of a tree. I removed a large plug and some soil until my pinpointer indicated a signal further down into the hole. I was at first disappointed at the glimpse of a huge chunk of lead pinned under a tree root. I was certain that a rough fragment of lead would offer no solid connection to a 17th century dwelling, to say nothing of a dwelling where fierce fighting occurred. After removing some more dirt, I dislodged the lead out from underneath a tree root. It was certainly the biggest piece of lead I had ever found in my many years of detecting. Roughly oval in shape, it measured 4" x 2 & ½” x ¾” thick and would later weigh out at 1 pound, 3 ounces! I assumed it was a nondescript chunk of lead, most likely scrap, discarded by a farmer many years ago, but was it something else? Something extraordinary? ???

P3250009.JPG

The lead had oxidized to a mix of colors from white to medium brown. As I wiped dirt from the lead chunk, I noticed several distinct lumps protruding from the otherwise featureless form. I was amazed to see that the lumps were actually musket balls fused to a lead ingot! :icon_cheers: A total of five musket balls were melted to the ingot, and from the same hole emerged a few more pieces of lead and a single loose musket ball. Further searching nearby uncovered several more musket balls, more scraps of lead, iron, and a piece of black colonial glass that I chanced upon while digging.

What would explain to recovery of a lead ingot with fused musket balls? :icon_scratch: The answer is found in the history of King Philips War and a close examination of this unusual find.

Here's a photos of the lead ingot with fused musket balls and related finds all dug from the same hole after being cleaned and preserved.

P3240156.JPG

Close-up image of musket balls fused to the lead ingot.

P3240091.JPG P3240092.JPG

During King Philip's War, both the English and the Native American tribes cruelly resorted to fire in order to achieve victory against the enemy, and the toll was dreadful as English settlements and tribal villages alike, one after the other, went up in flames.

A00Y_1_201907071270369779.jpg
Battle of Turner's Falls

1574709255298.jpeg
Great Swamp Fight

Brookfield , MA.jpg
Brookfield, MA

The site that had produced this most unusual find had suffered the same fate. The dwelling was burned over 340 years. Most of it was consumed in flames and turned to ash, but some objects, including this object, the contents of a 17th century ball pouch, survived down through the centuries. Lead shot throughout the Colonial Period were cast by pouring molten lead into a bullet mold. The ingot was spare lead stock for manufacturing more shot as needed. Evidence for a ball pouch ID was observed in curious grooves on the backside of the ingot. The grooved surface seemed peculiar at first but was soon recognized as an imprint of material from the shot pouch itself; however, the imprint found on the ingot and another fragment of lead recovered nearby did not reflect the use sturdy leather expected in an English shot pouch.

apost1.jpg
A Dutch ball pouch with bandolier – circa. 1600.

P3240111.JPG P3240141.JPG
Peculiar grooved surface on back of lead ingot (complete image and close-up image). Notice the dark spot?

P3240165.JPG P3240169.JPG P3240181.JPG
Crisscross pattern seen on another fragment of lead found nearby with close-up view and image of opposite side.

Amazingly, the impression from the material for the ball pouch showed clear use of a fiber weave. This shot pouch belonged to an Indian brave! :headbang: The shot pouch was dropped during the deadly fighting, and the subsequent torching of the dwelling heated up the lead contents just enough to cause the balls to partially settle into the edge of the ingot, while the softened ingot itself absorbed a light impression of the hemp material from the bottom of the pouch. The fire eventually burned itself out, and the lead soon cooled forever preserving a moment in time from a brutal war fought over three centuries ago. The location of the dropped shot pouch, the intensity of the fire, and countless other factors led up to the recovery of this remarkable piece of history. If they intensity of the fire or the exact location of dropped ball pouch had varied even slightly, the inside contents would have likely been reduced to an unrecognizable clump of lead. I’m thankful that such a thankful scenario did not take place and more thankful for having recovered such a striking find.

Native-Americans-log-cabin-fire-woodcut-King (1).jpg

I’ve made several return visits to the site over the past few weeks, and have recovered a number of lead shot and a few other finds, but none so intriguing as the remains of a Native American ball pouch from the 17th century. Here some more images of recent finds upon recovery and after some cleaning and preservation. Some of the finds offer strong evidence of the dwelling being burned in the fighting.

P3240233.JPG
More shot of varying sizes have been recovered with most averaging near .45 caliber in size. Many of the lead balls show clear signs of impacting after being fired as seen in the bottom row.

P3081236.JPG P3240201.JPG
More evidence of the site being torched in the fighting. Charred pieces of wood were recovered while digging for musket balls and other targets. I've come upon several pieces of charred wood while digging.

P3250019.JPG
The piece of black colonial glass shows signs of being subjected to fire.

P3240194.JPG
Other finds from the site include cookware - pots hooks, copper pot fragment, and a pot lug handle.

P3191317.JPG P3240212.JPG
A hammerhead, a 345 year-old hammerhead! - photos taken during preservation and after being completed. I've opted for a coating of Renaissance Wax for now, but will followup with a hot wax treatment in the near future.

Finally, the last image - I apologize for such a long-thread. While taking photos for this thread, I took a closer look at backside of the ingot with the view of the fiber weave seen earlier in this thread; it has a dark spot. Here's a super-macro image of what I thought was some form of dark minerialization in the lead patina.

P3240137.JPG

Actually it's a charred ember from the fiber weave of the ball pouch or from the burning dwelling. It settled into the molten lead and has remained preserved for nearly 3 & 1/2 centuries. It's a remarkable piece of history offering silent testimony of calamitous events during the early Colonial Period of America.

Be Safe and Good Hunting!
 
Upvote 127

digging440yrs

Gold Member
Dec 5, 2012
5,946
4,409
UPSTATE NEW YORK
Detector(s) used
1970 COMPASS-
WHITES SILVER EAGLE-
WHITES DFX, 4X6DD COIL, 6X8DD COIL, 950 COIL, 10X12SEF COIL-
GARRETT PRO POINTER AT, GARRETT AT PRO , MINELAB EXPLORER SE with 8.5x12.5 Cors coil
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting

Relicific

Silver Member
Feb 2, 2017
3,361
4,332
🥇 Banner finds
2
Detector(s) used
XP DEUS
X terra 705
Fisher F2
Primary Interest:
Relic Hunting
That’s a great post chock full of interesting facts.
Awesome relic recovery
 
OP
Silver Tree Chaser

Silver Tree Chaser

Bronze Member
Aug 12, 2012
1,371
2,990
🥇 Banner finds
8
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #24
Nice, an Historical event that actually matches your evidence - CONGRATS.:icon_thumright: (so many times I've read wishful thinking on here or ill conceived conclusions - not this time!)

Cru - Thanks for the compliment. I would have liked to provide further details concerning the history of the site, especially in reply to some of the naysayers on this thread, but I'm ever mindful of providing too much information.
 
OP
Silver Tree Chaser

Silver Tree Chaser

Bronze Member
Aug 12, 2012
1,371
2,990
🥇 Banner finds
8
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #25
Another amazing recovery Jim! The best part is that the right person found it. I feel most guys would have discarded this find and your probably the only one that could have completed the connection with all your research. Your a valuable asset to this hobby and history in general! Keep up the great work!

Ray - Good the hear from you!
 
OP
Silver Tree Chaser

Silver Tree Chaser

Bronze Member
Aug 12, 2012
1,371
2,990
🥇 Banner finds
8
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #26
Being a direct descendant of Captain Samuel Wadsworth who was killed in the "Sudbury Fight" this is a great post ! Many years ago I read a story in one of the treasure magazines about a guy who found his signet ring near the scene of the battle.

I've seen that ring. It's quite impressive. Hank Philips is the guy who found it.
 

invent4hir

Bronze Member
Aug 1, 2017
1,419
2,120
🏆 Honorable Mentions:
1
Detector(s) used
Whites V3i & DFX
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Awesome description and photos! Nothing better than uncovering artifacts that add context to an historical event.
 

PetesPockets55

Bronze Member
Apr 18, 2013
1,407
2,382
Indian River Co., Fl
Detector(s) used
AT MAX & Carrot, Nokta Pulse Dice (:
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Excellent thread, research, and very clear images. Congratulations and thank you for posting.

The only thing I think I can add is that the blackened remnant on the curved part of the lead clump does look like the fibers from wood (possibly decayed or burned?). It also appears to be embedded in the lead somewhat. A piece of wood could certainly have ended up on the bottom of a pouch and the melting lead circled around it.
 
Last edited:
OP
Silver Tree Chaser

Silver Tree Chaser

Bronze Member
Aug 12, 2012
1,371
2,990
🥇 Banner finds
8
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #30
Fascinating story!! Your "ingot" with the lead balls fused to it is the remnants from the bottom of a lead pot which had imperfect balls thrown back in for the next melt. I have made many of these in my years of casting balls for muzzle loading guns. This is why the bottom of your mass is curved. I also have the same things with imperfect lead sinkers fused to the lead since I cast most of my own sinkers.

I welcome any productive comments and suggestions; however, your thought on the “bottom of a lead pot” (I assume you not referring to an actual pot of lead) ignores the evidence mentioned in the original post - the charred wood and embers found elsewhere on the site and on the bottom of the ingot, the scorched black glass, the other fragment of lead with a crisscross impression that was not bowl-shaped, and the burning of the dwelling on the site which is well-documented. If I were to challenge another member’s research and identification of a find, I certainly would not be as glib as you have been. Your experience in making lead balls or whatever is just that – some experience. It doesn’t make you an authority or a subject matter expert.
 

Coinboy

Sr. Member
Dec 4, 2019
346
727
Iowa
Detector(s) used
Minelab Etrac, Nokta Makro Simplex, pulsedive, Garrett Ace 200, Nokta pinpointer, Brute Magnetics 888 pound Fishing Magnet
Predatortools
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Heck of an insult.

Silver tree chaser did an awesome job researching that find and writing all about it so that we would know what the find is and a backstory that makes sense. Definitely not made up with all the evidence.
 

invent4hir

Bronze Member
Aug 1, 2017
1,419
2,120
🏆 Honorable Mentions:
1
Detector(s) used
Whites V3i & DFX
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
One of the most difficult challenges to the hobby of metal detecting is relating some artifacts to an historical event. You do the best to understand the event then envision how the artifact was involved. In my case I usually take a piece of notebook paper, fold it in half length ways, then in one column write all the reasons I think it was involved and in the other column write the reasons it wasn't. I re-visit the list several times to make sure nothing is left out. Then its time to stand back and look at the columns objectively. Sometimes the columns are pretty evenly matched leading to a draw. Other times, one column has a distinct advantage, so a logical conclusion becomes clear. Then I leave it up to others to disprove.
 

xcopperstax

Silver Member
Sep 3, 2018
2,502
4,847
Massachusetts
Detector(s) used
Garrett AT Max
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Nope, the bottom has a textured pattern from slag at the bottom of the pot and natural wrinkling of the lead as it cools. I have made many of the exact items myself.

I'm definitely not an expert and have not done it myself so you could be correct.
 

Scrappy

Gold Member
Mar 6, 2014
9,162
13,870
17th century
🥇 Banner finds
7
Detector(s) used
Minelab CTX 3030 & XP Deus
Primary Interest:
Other
Jim that’s fantastic. So many hunters would have just seen a lump of lead and thrown it into the pouch. The snapshot you presented showed some fantastic research and insight and I appreciate the way you put the evidence together. Great post, fantastic find! Congrats
 

sandchip

Silver Member
Oct 29, 2010
4,256
6,621
Georgia
Detector(s) used
Teknetics T2SE
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Great finds and illustration of just how tough life was back then, and how good we have it today, regardless of COVID-19.
 

GabiJohnson

Tenderfoot
Mar 27, 2020
7
12
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Finally, the last image - I apologize for such a long-thread. While taking photos for this thread, I took a closer look at backside of the ingot with the view of the fiber weave seen earlier in this thread; it has a dark spot. Here's a super-macro image of what I thought was some form of dark minerialization in the lead patina.
 

Rookster

Gold Member
Nov 24, 2013
29,382
111,581
Detector(s) used
XP Deus, F75Ltd., AT PRO, Garrett pointer
Primary Interest:
Cache Hunting
Congratulations on the finds and presentation.
 

cheffer

Hero Member
Sep 17, 2004
904
2,636
Western Mass
🥇 Banner finds
2
Detector(s) used
XP Deus, Fisher 1275 LTD, Fisher 1265, Fisher 1270, Tesoro Vaquero
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
Brilliant post Silver Tree, I've reread it twice now. I love the way you CSI the evidence and support your conclusions with facts, all the while mixing history and education. If you don't write professionally you should consider it. Congratulations on uncovering such a prize, looking forward to your next post

Steve
 

jeff of pa

Super Moderator
Staff member
Dec 19, 2003
81,254
53,698
🥇 Banner finds
1
🏆 Honorable Mentions:
1
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
excellent write up and finds :thumbsup:
 

Top Member Reactions

Users who are viewing this thread

Top