Where in the hell am I?

May 24, 2011

Fannin Battleground SHS, day 1: background

Filed under: archaeology — John @ 9:30 pm

This week we’re doing a metal detector survey at the Fannin Battleground State Historic Site in Fannin, Texas. This is is the site of the Battle of Coleto Creek during the Texas Revolution. The park itself has an interesting history as well as marking the location of a significant event in Texas history.

Apparently, there were conflicting opinions about whether the park marked part of the actual battle ground or was simply a commemorative park in the vicinity of the battle. According to a previous survey report, the state and the Parks and Wildlife service officially considered it a commemorative park. But area residents knew that artifacts had been recovered from the park and the surrounding properties since the early 20th century. The main question is what portion of the battle field is on the park property, particularly whether it contains the “Texan Square” where they held off the Mexican forces before surrendering. There were also allegedly 91 bodies buried at the battlefield (80 Mexicans and 11 Texans, iirc)  in the Texan trenches.

An official metal detector survey of the park was conducted by the Houston Archaeological Society (an avocational group rather than an academic or professional organization) in 2001. They found roughly 300 musket balls, most likely from the Texans, and largely clustered around the park entrance (where the old gin screw monument is located). Other battle related artifacts included a small cannon ball and some grape shot, a Mexican musket rod, and part of a pistol (I’m doing this from memory, so this may not be 100% accurate). The investigators suggest that the general vicinity of the musket ball cluster is likely either the Texan Square or the location of an ammo wagon that blew up. They also speculate that all of the larger artifacts (cannons, cannon balls, swords, guns, etc) were previously collected as well as most of the more shallow artifacts, as most of the musket balls were 9-10 inches below surface.

Following this, a magnetometer survey was done in an area including the cluster, to search for anomalies that may be the trenches or buried bodies. One possible feature was investigated and found to be a large concrete slab that was part of the early 20th century concrete fence. A secondary historic overview of the park development was then conducted, and determined that the trenches had been filled in long ago, that collecting had taken place there for years and years, and that most of the park area was plowed as a step in leveling the ground.

With all this (and I know it’s long) as background, we started our metal detector survey today, prior to park renovations. Apparently, there are some questions as to the thoroughness and reliability of the previous survey. Nonetheless, there is a long history of metal detecting and artifact “collection” at the park, along with myriad secondary disturbances. Were this not the case, I would be incredibly excited for this job! As it is, I have extremely low expectations.

Results from days 1 and 2 tomorrow!

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1 Comment »

  1. […] metal detector, survey, Texas, Texas Revolution — John @ 7:06 pm Musket ball So, we left off yesterday with some background about the Fannin Battle Ground State Historic Site, including why I was […]

    Pingback by Fannin Battle Ground day 1 & 2 results: SUCCESS « Where in the hell am I? — May 25, 2011 @ 7:07 pm


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