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Archaeologists find artifacts at Cowpens battlefield

After two weeks and 40 acres, a new archaeological search at Cowpens National Battlefield has produced artifacts believed to be from the Battle of Cowpens during the Revolutionary War.

Archaeologists from the National Park Service’s Southeast Archaeological Center in Tallahassee, Fla., started the dig last month to recover any artifacts that could have been left from the battle.

During the two-week dig, archaeologists and volunteers found a number of musket balls and rifle balls around the battlefield. All of the artifacts will be taken to the archaeological center and analyzed to determine whether they are American or British, said Cowpens National Battlefield Park Ranger Virginia Fowler.

Te archaeological dig was done to better define the battle lines and to provide more information about the battle to make sure the story was being told correctly, Fowler said.

“They found out that some of the lines are longer than what we thought,” Fowler said. “They have found a lot of musket balls and rifle balls and things to indicate where the lines of battle were, which is what they wanted to do.”

The 40-acre search perimeter contained the entire core area of the battlefield. Lead archaeologist Michael Seibert said the area was sectioned into 100-meter by 100-meter grids with each corner staked out.

Volunteers lined up side by side – much like soldiers during the battle would have done – with about 4 feet between them and walked in a straight line across the field, Seibert said.

It doesn’t allow for 100 percent collection, Seibert said, but it’s a 100 percent sampling survey that does allow archaeologists to gather as much data as possible.

While the dig produced some Revolutionary War artifacts such as ammunition and horseshoes, Seibert said they also ran into trash and debris from the homes around the battlefield that weren’t removed until the 1960s.

“Since we hunt all metals, which is something a lot of people don’t do, you have to filter all that and go through it all,” Seibert said. “You could go over this 100 times, and you’re always going to find stuff.”

Overall, Seibert said he’s pleased with the results of the dig and is looking forward to analyzing what was discovered.

“It’s great we’ll be able to reinterpret how the battle went,” Seibert said.

“I think a lot of people are going to be really excited about American Revolutionary War archaeology. We can take this data and combine it with King’s Mountain (King’s Mountain National Military Park) and Guilford Courthouse (Guilford National Military Park) and relook at a lot of things and get that information out to the public, who I think will be interested in it.”

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