Digging Civil War artifacts more than hobby for re-enactor
Originally published August 17, 2012
By Ike Wilson
C. Paul Martz routinely spends entire weekends digging for Civil War artifacts he describes as buried treasure that should be appreciated and preserved.
Since 1997, Martz, a janitorial custodian at The Frederick News-Post, has devoted his spare time to finding the objects.
He and colleague John Barone established the Civil War Artifact Preservation Association.
"Our mission is the recovery of artifacts and to preserve them for years to come, and for the public to see, " Martz said.
"When I find an artifact, it is very special to me for the simple reason that I found it. It is a piece of history, and once a man like me owned it."
Martz and Barone have collected enough remnants of the everyday soldier's life and war to fill 14 display cases in museums in Harrisburg, Pa., Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Richmond, Va.
One of the displays is currently in The News-Post lobby.
The two men have found exploded cannonballs, bayonets, belt buckles, bullets, cannon fuses, butt plates, pieces of oil lanterns and Civil War trunks, parts of a reed pipe and harmonica, melted bullets from fire pits, and a fence post with bullets.
They have also recovered drumsticks, forks, knives and teaspoons; pocketknives, an Eagle breast plate; clay pipe; breech plug; buck and ball ammunition and artillery shells.
Martz and Barone will display some of their finds Sept. 14-15 during a celebration at the Sharpsburg town square.
A Keedysville resident and Civil War re-enactor, Martz has found the most objects in Sharpsburg, he said, but not on battlefields.
You can not dig or hunt on State land or battlefield park land.
Martz and Barone dig on private properties, with permission,
The not-for-profit preservation organization lends the displays to schools so that children can learn about the Civil War, Martz said.
"The lesson is to let them know how bad war is," Martz said. "We also hope there won't be another."
Recovered artifacts are documented using five books.
Civil War objects are deteriorating rapidly in the ground and will be lost forever unless they are properly preserved, Martz said.
The men also work with state and local archaeologists.
They use their metal detection equipment to home in on potential finds, then the archaeologists take over with the dig, Martz said.
Rapid development and growth today have created an urgent need to preserve our history by recovering pieces of our past, and collecting data that will be useful in telling the history of each archaeological site, Barone said.
"We go to great lengths to provide the most accurate history or documentation available for the items we examine," Barone said.
Martz found a Rhode Island state seal coat button and through research linked it to the 9th Corps at the Battle of Antietam. "It was a nice button," Martz said.
Each item is numbered according to the location it was found, or from whom it was donated.
"We believe historically significant artifacts should not be traded or sold randomly without regard to their historic significance," Martz said.
Clarence Paul Martz stands next to a display case containing artifacts from the Civil War,
which he recovered from private property with the consent of the owner.