Who were the Richmond Grays and what is the history behind them? These were questions that popped in my mind after I realized I had dug one of their shoulder plates. I say "realized" because at first I thought it was "junk" as you can see in the video. (here) * Took video down as people have already gone looking for the spot * It wasn't till I got home and ran some water over the relic, did I realize it was something special. Metal detecting a new permission for the first time and having just found a 1943 Washington quarter right on the surface my hopes were high with the sound of another good target. The plate came out of the ground bent over onto itself. It just looked like junk being only a few inches deep. After bending the plate back out close to its original shape I could tell something was there...still not sure I put it in my finds pouch and entered the GPS location into my CTX.
Starting the research process was initially a quick Google search and then a call to Ran Hundley owner of Sgt. Riker's in Ashland, VA. Ran stated he had never dug one and knew they were rare to dig and congratulated me on the find. He asked me to bring it by the store and I told him I would. I called some of my closest metal detecting friends and told them all about finding it...but really couldn't tell them much about the history behind the relic. I could feel this "I've got to know more" mindset starting to build...
This is why I Metal Detect
Diving into the Internet, searching for any information about the Richmond Grays, I found the most amazing history...that I never knew about. The 1844 date on the plate represents the date the Grays formed. To be exact January 29, 1844, a little over 170 years ago. In June of 1861, the Richmond Grays along with other local militia units mustered into Confederate service. This formed the 1st Virginia Infantry or more famously known as the "Williams Rifles." The 1st Virginia Infantry served with distinction throughout the war. James Kemper, Governor of Virginia stated "You know I was identified with the First through many bloody vicissitudes. Jollier men in camp, braver soldiers in battle, were not found in the Army of North
The mentioning of the name John Wilkes Booth even today stirs up uncomfortable feeling for many. During my research I learned that John Wilkes Booth was in fact a member of the Richmond Grays. John Brown's invasion of Virginia in 1859, his capture and execution are all linked to the Richmond Grays.
Please read the book "Has He Been Hiding in Plain Sight? John Wilkes Booth and The Richmond Grays" by Angela Smythe. Its only 41 pages and online for free. I have really enjoyed reading it and I would think anyone who is interested in Civil War history would enjoy it. Thanks for reading my short account, as I could write many pages on this subject. Please comment on this article and share what you may know about the Richmond Grays...
Good luck and HH
Websites used in gathering information: