June 16, 2011
SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 15, 2011 — Two months ago, Drury faculty, students and even the president began digging in the middle of campus to reveal what was believed to be a Civil War defensive trench. Now, with the discovery of a piece of ammunition, there is physical evidence to go with Drury’s narrative history that confirms the existence of that trench. The artifact was found the week of May 30, 2011.
“We found a piece of munitions called grape shot that was not commonly used after 1864 and was specifically used by the military in a configuration called a buck and ball paper cartridge,” says Dr. Monty Dobson, assistant professor of history at Drury. “I took the artifact to the Center for Archaeological Research at Missouri State and to the archives at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. By examining it and comparing it to known artifacts, I was able to identify the shot and date it to the mid-19th century.”
The grape shot was found about 2.5 feet down in the cross section of trench Dobson was investigating. The shot appeared in a man-made feature of rocks and earth that Dobson says, “Looks like it was a part of the defensive engineering works for Springfield during the Civil War. I’m not aware of any other surviving examples of defensive engineering works in Springfield.”
On the first day of excavation, on April 14, students discovered artifacts from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, including: iron stone pottery, a World War II era token and a 1954-penny. Later, Dobson found pieces of glass bottles made from a type of glass that was not used after World War I.
Dobson plans to complete the excavation sometime during the week of June 19, fill in the trench and return the berm to its natural state.
The two-month undertaking had value as a research project, and as an educational opportunity for Dobson’s students, “It gave them a chance to become involved in the process of discovering new knowledge, that’s a pretty rare opportunity for undergrads. That made the textbook more tangible. Students were able to get their hands on a Civil War feature built by the people that fought in the war.”
Media: Dr. Dobson will work on the trench on Thursday, June 16 most of the day, and on Friday, June 17 beginning at 11 a.m. He will be available for interviews and have the grape shot and other artifacts available.
Media Contact: Dr. Monty Dobson, Visiting Assistant Professor of History, Office: (417) 873-7368, Mobile: (313) 461-4808, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org