Relics on Display

If you’ve been to the SegTours shop recently, you may have noticed the collection of Civil War relics on display at our front desk. This modest sampling includes a variety of bullets, buttons, plates, coins, jewelry and other personal effects that were dropped or discarded by soldiers.

Most were found with a metal detector by the owner of SegTours, Bob Velke. Bob grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, on a site that served as a hospital during the Civil War. The relics were dug on private properties throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

To answer a common question: no, they were not found on the Gettysburg battlefield. In fact, it is illegal to even possess a metal detector while on National Park property.


The relic display and our shelves of research books are designed to encourage discussion about the wide variety of weapons and accoutrements that were carried by soldiers on both sides of the battle.

Many of the artifacts on display are very personal in nature, however. Pieces of a harmonica, a broken clay pipe, a pocket knife, and other relics remind us that the participants were not merely statistics. These items give us a window into the lives of real people with interests and hobbies not unlike our own. These were some of the objects that the men carried in their pockets to occupy the quiet times in camp and to remind them of the lives that awaited them back home.

What must it have taken, then, to inspire these men to leave their comfortable homes and families, travel hundreds of miles by foot into unfamiliar territory, slog through the mud, camp in the rain and snow, and survive on an uncertain and often-insufficient food supply?

Just how patriotic would you have to be in order to exchange the comfortable life that you know for the hardships of life in the army? How devoted would you have to be to a cause in order to leave your wife and children to fend for themselves while you took the very real risk that you’d end up in an unmarked grave far from home? After all, the biggest killer in the Civil War was disease, claiming more than 1 in every 10 soldiers!

And if you happen to survive all that then, oh yeah, there’s a few hundred thousand people who are trying very hard to kill you.

When we talk of sacrifice in the Civil War, we tend to think of the 620,000 brave men who gave their lives. But these relics of everyday life remind us that, in risking everything, every soldier sacrificed something.

The very least that we can do is remember them for it.

To see a truly remarkable collection Civil War relics, including many that were simply picked up from the fields of Gettysburg in the months and years following the battle, we encourage you to visit the Gettysburg Museum of History, just a few blocks from our location. This FREE museum has more than 4000 relics on display, including weapons, uniforms, flags, and other items, many of which are documented with personal stories.

This small private museum also houses fascinating artifacts from every era of American history, including a lock of George and Martha Washington’s hair, Abraham Lincoln’s opera glasses, John Wilkes Booth’s splint, Hitler’s personal silverware, the flag that flew over Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941, the keys to the car in which JFK was assassinated (and samples of bloodstained upholstery), shell casings from Ruby’s gun that killed Oswald, and much more. You’ll discover something new every time you visit!

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