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Posted at 10:54 AM ET, 11/22/2010

Va. boy may have found Civil War sword

By Associated Press

It's truly the gift that keeps on giving.

A week after receiving a metal detector for his seventh birthday, Lucas Hall's gift is already paying dividends for the first-grader.

While metal-detecting with his father, Gary, on private property outside Berryville, Va., Lucas had a feeling that the two needed to stop and look.

His hunch paid off.

Buried six inches deep was a sword believed to have been used during the Civil War.

"We stopped on the four-wheelers, and Lucas said 'right here,'" Gary Hall recounted Monday. "So we started digging, and not a minute later, there it was."

"I was excited," Lucas said.

But the pair was still unsure of their finding until they started digging deeper.

"We originally thought it was an old fence post," Gary said. "I started pulling it out of the ground, and when I saw the handle I went 'Oh, my gosh.'"

Lucas's passion for metal-detecting skyrocketed after their neighbor gave him a few Civil War-era bullets he had found while metal-detecting on his property, Lucas's mother, Tina, said.

Lucas also likes the Science Channel show "Meteorite Men" -- a program about two men who look for meteorite pieces with metal detectors.

The neighbor "gave me a lot of bullets," Lucas said. "I like digging for them."

"Lucas really likes the pursuit," his mother said.

The family is still unsure how to properly care for their discovery, which has been sitting on a towel in their living room since it was found.

"That's the biggest thing right now, just touching it makes it disintegrate, and I want to preserve this for him," Gary said. "We haven't had it to an expert yet because we aren't sure who to take it to."

Gary Crawford, president of the Kernstown Battlefield Association, examined a picture of the sword.

He believes it is a light cavalry saber model 1840 or 1860, but said it's too difficult based on its condition to determine where the sword was manufactured or whether the Confederates or the Union used it.

The handle design, Crawford said, helps narrow down the time period of manufacturing.

"There is really no way of knowing [which side used it] because many of these sabers were manufactured in the North before the war and stocked in Southern armories," he said. "When the war started, the South just took those weapons and passed them out to their troops."

Crawford said that about 18 inches of the blade may be missing.

"It may still be in the ground," Crawford said, "or it may have been broken and thrown away. That wouldn't have been uncommon."

Regardless of the sward's potential monetary worth, the family isn't interested in selling the relic, Gary Hall said.

"This is really just fun for him, and I want to keep it that way," he said. "Lucas doesn't have a concept of the Civil War. He just knows what we tell him. But when he gets older, I want him to look back on this and appreciate it."

Tina said the sword, and other findings, will be used for home-schooling lessons for Lucas and his 9-year-old sister, Samantha.

Lucas has also found several Civil War rifle-musket and minie ball bullets.

"Now we can teach a unit on the Civil War," she said. "When they dig something up, we can try and learn about it."

By Associated Press  | November 22, 2010; 10:54 AM ET
Categories:  Virginia  
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Wait til he comes home with a coffin handle.

Relic hunting is fun. Do the research correctly and you can fill a basement with civil war stuff.

Unexploded ordnance from the civil war is more volatile today than when it was made. Black powder just gets stronger with age.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 22, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Please do not try to take off the rust with a wire brush. That will instantly kill all collector value. Use a gun oil to prevent the rust - know as patina to collectors - from getting worse.

Posted by: buffysummers | November 22, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

" ... on private property outside Berryville, Va."

What about that?

Posted by: lilhornie | November 22, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't know how I could have missed that over twenty years ago--congratulations.

Posted by: slim21 | November 22, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

If the southern relic were a person, it would be racist, stupid, and mostly illiterate.

Posted by: kenk33 | November 22, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

If the southern relic were a person, it would be racist, stupid, and mostly illiterate.

Posted by: kenk33

And the northern relic would be about the same, except he wouldn't be able to speak English. He'd be a German or other European immigrant who just stepped off a ship in New York harbor.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 22, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

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