SGA members discuss Civil War research techniques

Submitted by Sammy Smith (sammy@thesga.org)

AJC_GSilliman_civil_war_sitesRead Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Cameron McWhirter’s story “Science digs into Civil War sites,” dated 28 November 2009 by clicking here.

The story discusses how public archaeologists are using modern technologies to discover new information from Civil War sites. Most of the article stems from an interview with SGA member Garrett Silliman, and also mentions SGA member Dan Elliott.

The precision this technology offers is startling. To demonstrate, Silliman picked up a small plastic bag on his desk. Inside was a bullet that he recently recovered from a site at Tanyard Creek in Buckhead. Through global positioning he knew the exact location where the bullet was found. Examining its markings, he was able to tell it was a British-made bullet fired from model 1853 Enfield rifle. Because it was slightly marked, he could tell it had been rammed into a gun that had been fouled, probably from being shot a lot that day. Because the lead bullet didn’t have any impact marks, he could tell it had not hit a target, but probably just traveled through the air, then dropped to the ground. Military records showed fighting at that location. Using mapping software showing modern Atlanta overlaid with Civil War fortifications, he traced back 1,100 to 1,300 yards—the distance an Enfield-fired bullet would travel—to Rebel earthworks.