J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Who’s Got the Button?

This is turning into archeology week at Boston 1775, but here’s another story about a recent find. The Williamsburg Yorktown Daily reports that young teen Finney Lynch found a button with the markings of the 85ème Regiment Saintonge, one of the French units that served in the siege of Yorktown:
The rain on June 24 did more than just water the plants. It likely loosed a Revolutionary War-era button from a bank of land after more than 230 years, planting it in full view of an eighth-grade archaeology camper.

As Finney Lynch, an eighth-grade student at The Covenant School in Charlottesville, walked the path from the Archer Cottage next to Cornwallis’ Cave at Yorktown to the Watermen’s Museum on June 25, she spotted a button in the muddy ground.

“I picked it up and didn’t think it was anything at all,” Lynch said.

She gave the button to the Watermen’s Museum Archaeology Camp leader Jason Lunze, and he knew what she had found: an 18th-century button made of copper alloy, like bronze, from the Revolutionary War. . . .

“I have buttons in my own dresser that do not look as good as this button does in person,” said the Watermen’s Museum Executive Director Dr. David Niebuhr.
The article goes on to explain how the button will be preserved for study and display.

I’m surprised that a button survived in such good shape after more than two hundred years “in close proximity to the water” and was spotted simply lying on the muddy ground—by someone at an archeology camp, yet. Rain can unearth artifacts like those flints in Concord, but I’m used to thinking of metal buttons appearing in more concerted digs like this one at Colonial Williamsburg.

I can’t help but wonder if members of Massachusetts’s own Regiment Saintonge reenactors have been in that area.


Anonymous said...

Great story! Reminds me of a 4th grade class trip to General Adam Stephen's home when I found a ring partially exposed in the mud on the property. I told my teacher who encouraged me to give it to the tour guide. I've always wondered what became of it.

AdamC1776 said...

Many of us, members of Regiment Saintonge, have been to Yorktown of course. Hopefully the archeologists in question can tell the difference between the real thing and a modern reproduction however accurate. We are naturally very excited about the find.