Because of the professionalism and creative planning by Civil War Helena, archeologists were brought in to locate the historic Battery C. Since at least the 1960s, local residents noted that the ground atop the historic battery had been disturbed. Some residents remembered decades ago seeing remains of earthworks on the site. Before construction of Battery C park began, there were no visible signs above the ground that gave any indication as to the location nor the shape of the battery.
Archeologists were able to locate both. Over the next several posts, we will present photos of the professional investigation of the site.
Four maps drawn during the Civil War show Battery C. On each, the size and shape of the battery is different. Archeological investigations conducted in 2011 and 2013 uncovered some surprising facts about this battery.
Calling in the Professionals
Professional archeologists had never investigated this site. Nothing of Battery C was visible on the surface, and the historic maps raised more questions than they answered. There were plans to interpret and make the site accessible to visitors, which required earth moving and construction. It was time to do archeology to see if any subsurface remains of Battery C existed and what they might reveal.
Scientific Methods Yield Results
The archaeologists used investigative techniques ranging from systematic metal detector surveys to hand excavation to backhoe trenching. They mapped the location and depth of each artifact recovered and recorded the soils in each trench. An intriguing discovery of subtle differences in soil color and texture led to the definition of the ditch in front of Battery C. The distribution of Civil War- era nails defined the revetment- the wooden retaining wall that held the earth in place. Perhaps the most interesting discovery was the shape of Battery C, which was different than shown on any of the historic maps.
[the next post on the Arkansas Toothpick will feature photography the editor did during the investigations. The archeologist heading up the effort was Steve McBride]
Battery C Park, maintained by the Delta Cultural Center, is open daily from 9am-5pm.