MOORE’S MILL SURVEY
The Battle of Moore’s Mill Project involved research and archeological investigations of the site of a small but hotly contested engagement during the American Civil war at Moore’s Mill, Missouri in 1862. These investigations, conducted on March 14-16, 2013, were organized by Missouri’s Civil War Heritage Foundation, and were funded in part by a grant from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, Grant agreement number: GA-2255-12-012. Essential assistance was provided by staff and friends of the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society and Westminster College who coordinated local logistics, Minelab America which loaned equipment, and fifty volunteers (including local residents, students from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, Missouri Valley College in Marshall, Missouri, and Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri) who took part in the metal detecting phase of the investigation process.
For a complete description of the Project, download Official Report Here
The archeological investigations employed metal detectors with operators spaced about three meters apart. The metal detector operators walked in a series of roughly parallel transects covering approximately 20 acres on three properties. Locational control was accomplished through the use of a Global Positioning System handheld unit and electronic data collector (Trimble GeoExplorer XT, mapping grade). Each item or location recorded on the data recorder was identified by unique UTM coordinates and a previously established identification code.
The inventory phase of the project included three sequential operations: survey, recovery, and recording. During survey artifact finds were located and marked. Inventory operations were designed primarily to locate subsurface metallic items with the use of electronic metal detectors. Visual inspection of the surface also was carried out concurrently with the metal detector survey. Detector operators proceeded in line, using a sweeping motion to examine the ground and marked any contacts with a pin flag before moving on. The recovery crew followed and carefully uncovered subsurface finds, leaving them in place where possible. The recovery crew excavated artifact locations marked by pin flags and left the artifacts in place for recording. Hand tools, such as spades and trowels were used to expose subsurface artifacts. Excavators were assisted by metal detector operators to ensure in-place exposure.
The recording team then plotted individual artifact locations, assigned field specimen numbers, and collected the specimens. The recording crew assigned field specimen numbers, recorded artifact proveniences, and collected the specimens. Artifacts were assigned sequential field specimen numbers beginning at 001. Metal detecting and visual survey were conducted on each property until historic metal artifact density dropped off or became non-existent.
The metal detector investigations at Moore’s Mill yielded a wide variety of artifacts. The majority of artifacts recovered was bullets and because of the large quantity of firearms-related artifacts that were recovered, the description and analysis emphasizes that artifact type.
The methods employed in cleaning and analyzing the artifacts consisted of dry brushing or washing the accumulated dirt and mud from each artifact and then determining the condition of the artifact to see whether it requires further cleaning or conservation. For analysis and identification purposes some metallic items required a treatment in EZest® coin cleaner to remove oxides that had built up on them during the years in which they were in the ground. After it was cleaned each artifact was rebagged with its appropriate Field Specimen (FS) number and other relevant information on the bag. The artifacts were then identified, sorted, and analyzed.
Analysis of the recovered archeological firearms-related artifacts provides a wealth of evidence regarding the weapons actually used during the battle. Using firearms identification techniques and the precise recording of individual artifact locations, weapon calibers and types can be identified and placed on the battlefield. Firearms identification procedures provide a powerful tool to enable us to state what type of weapons were used during the fierce fighting on the field. More important is knowing where the firearms-related components were found on the battlefield, because knowing what was used where allows, in combination with analysis of the documentary evidence of the battle, the development of greater precision in placing units accurately on the landscape.
The variety and types of projectiles found in the course of the investigations is indicative of the types of units that took part, as well as the nature of the fighting. Participation by cavalrymen and the close range nature of much of the engagement at Moore’s Mill are reflected in the archeological record by handgun-related artifacts. The handgun-related artifacts indicate the use of three and possibly four types of pistols. The bullets show that the Savage Navy revolver was present as was the M1860 Colt Army revolver, and the .54-caliber balls suggest the possibility of obsolete single shot pistols known as “horse pistols.” However, these .54-caliber balls could also represent a rifle or carbine round. The other pistol present was the French 12mm pinfire Lefaucheux.
During the battle several rounds of James artillery shell, case shot, and canister were fired by Union artillerists. Analysis of the shell fragments, fuse artifacts, sabot fragments, and canister distribution found in the investigation identifies the Union artillery as 3.8 inch James Type I rifled cannon. Analysis of the shell, fuse, and canister distribution patterns suggests one gun, likely firing canister and probably shell, was on or near the current JJ Highway on the higher ground overlooking the densely wooded gullies and erosional ridges used to conceal the Confederates. This forward gun fired to the east/southeast and south. The second gun was likely located further north, perhaps 100 to 200 meters north of the canister-firing gun and also likely on or near the road. It fired James Type I shell and possibly case shot. The rounds were fired to the east/southeast toward the erosional ridges in the gully system.
The small arms bullets recovered allowed us to identify, using firearms identification procedures, at least eleven types of shoulder arms that were present at the battle, including .52 cal. Sharps (carbines, most likely), 54 cal. and .58 cal. imported European rifled muskets (possibly French or Austrian), .58 cal. Enfield rifled muskets, .58 caliber U.S. rifled muskets, .69 or .72 cal. muskets (caliber is uncertain as these projectiles were deformed by impact) and a .56 cal. Colt revolving rifle. The archeological evidence also confirms the presence of shotguns and country or “common rifles” in the hands of the southern forces.
It might be said the historical record is accurate in recording the events, but perhaps not precise in its description or detail of where actions occurred on the ground. Regardless of the depositional disturbances that have occurred due to farming, road construction and maintenance, and relic collecting on the Moore’s Mill battlefield, the archeological data recovered in the course of this project demonstrates discernible patterns and provides new physical evidence of those events on July 28, 1862. The archeological data and its distribution record the fight in clear detail and provide a new and independent means of assessing and evaluating the disparate historical record of the event. It certainly does not alter the outcome, but it does provide a physical link, and an interpretable body of data, to an episode in the history of the American Civil War.
On May 4, 2015, as a result of the Battle of Moore’s Mill Project, the battlefield was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, our nation’s list of historic properties worthy of preservation.
BATTLE OF MARSHALL
The general area of Battle of Marshall, Missouri, was studied in 2010 by a team of surveyors that included Douglas D. Scott, Steve Dasovich and Peter Warnock, with the assistance of students from Lindenwood University (St. Charles, Missouri) and Missouri Valley College (Marshall, Missouri). The purpose of the survey was to locate boundaries of a well-known battle that occurred on October 13, 1863, the culminating event of Colonel Joseph Shelby’s 1863 Raid.
For a complete description of the Marshall Project, download Official Report Here
Prior to the field work, an assessment of the documentary and oral history resources was undertaken in an attempt to identify the most likely areas where the artillery may have been placed. The approach chosen is viewshed analysis that employs the power of Geographic Information System computer-based programs. In military parlance this is known as terrain analysis or weapons fan analysis. Terrain models were constructed to determine possible fields of fire for both Union and Confederate artillery. Four weapons fan analyses were performed. One was from a possible location for Union commander Egbert Brown’s guns to shell the position of Confederate Colonel David Shanks. A second was from the likely position of Shanks men, a third from the likely position of Shelby’s guns, and the fourth from the likely position of Union Colonel Basel Lazear’s guns.
Faced with examining an approximately a large area, and assuming that most surviving artifacts of war are either metallic or associated with metal, metal detectors were employed as an inventory tool based on the success of the technique at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (Scott and Fox 1987; Scott et al. 1989; Fox and Scott 1991). The use of metal detectors operated by knowledgeable people has overwhelmingly proven its value (Connor and Scott 1998; Espenshade et al. 2002) and is now a common tool employed in archaeological investigations of battlefields and campsites. Locational control was accomplished through the use of a Global Positioning System handheld unit and electronic data collector (Trimble GeoExplorer XT, mapping grade). Each item or location recorded on the data recorder was identified by unique UTM coordinates and a previously established identification code.
Upon arrival at the survey site, the recovery crew excavated artifact locations marked by pin flags and left the artifacts in place for recording. This team consisted of excavators and metal detector operators. The number of operators and excavators varied from day to day depending on the workload. Hand tools, such as spades and trowels were used to expose subsurface artifacts. Excavators were assisted by metal detector operators to ensure in place exposure. Detector operators provided pinpointing and depth information to the excavator, thereby allowing a careful and accurate approach to the artifact. After exposure the pin flag was left upright at the location to signal the recording crew.
The recording crew assigned field specimen numbers, recorded artifact proveniences, and collected the specimens. Recorders backfilled artifact location holes upon completion of recording duties. Artifacts were assigned sequential field specimen numbers beginning at 001. The identification, sorting, and analysis of artifacts consisted of dividing the artifacts into classes of like objects and then sub-sorting the artifacts into further identifiable discrete types. Sorting and identification of the artifacts were undertaken by personnel experienced with artifacts of this period, who compared the artifacts with type collections and with standard reference materials.
The survey team recovered artifacts as follows: Two impact deformed dead soft lead bullets (Figure 13, left and right) were recovered on private property near the top of the hill believed to have been occupied by Shanks force. Both struck at high velocity significantly deforming the bullets to the point that no diagnostic features remained. A single cast brass D-shaped buckle, 1 ¾ inches long and 1 ½ inches wide, made for a 1 inch strap was recovered on the hilltop on private land (Figure 13, center). The buckle is consistent in style with those used on Grimsley Dragoon saddles (Dorsey and McPheeters 1999:18-19) in the pre-Civil War era.