SHARPSBURG, M.d. (WDVM) — Since 1997, a West Virginia man has dedicated his life to digging the ground near and around Antietam National Battle Field for Civil War artifacts.
While being a civil war reenactor for over 30 years, Clarence Martz has been glued to his metal detector for more than 20 years. He has collected many great artifacts, all with different meanings.
“At the reenactments I would see people bring reproduction stuff to encampment and living history and I thought to myself, why not the original stuff,” Martz said.
Since there is no digging allowed on the state land or battle field, he investigates the surrounding areas. Saturday afternoon he spent the day at the John Shay house in Sharpsburg. It was built in 1825 and served as a field hospital for wounded confederate and union soldiers. The home owner who asked not to be identified says one of the most touching artifacts is a bullet that was cut by a surgeons saw.
“What it says, at that point, it didn’t matter if it’s union or confederate, this was a young American probably eighteen or nineteen years old that had a limb cut off, it brings tears to my eyes at times because its a small thing but a very important thing because that’s the reality and that happened here at this house.”
While out in the field Martz says when the metal detector goes off the flags he puts in the ground play a significant role.
“Number one, to point where the artifact is, number two is after its said and done at the end of that day we can stand back and actually see the movement of the union and confederate of both armies by the movement of the flags,” Martz also said.
The homeowner says along with the physical history, there is also some positive paranormal activity that helps guard the grounds. The homeowner says he feels privileged to live in a home with so much history and is honored to be able to work with Clarence for as long as they can.