|Description and Photograph||
The iron CS plate is super rare in any condition, and usually they are in very poor condition. This is attributable to two things; first, their manufacture and distribution was very limited. Second, because it is made of die-struck sheet iron; most would have deteriorated beyond recognition after only a few years lying in the ground. Usually when one is found it is nearly illegible due to excessive oxidation. Even above ground, they are generally oxidized badly.
Of the few examples that had been excavated, until now all had been in the Western Theatre and principally Arkansas. This example was excavated by Cecil Richardson in Liberty Hill, Tazewell County, in Southwest Virginia. So how did it get there?
John Hallum b. 1833 wrote Reminiscences of the Civil War, published in 1903 by Tunnah & Pittard, Little Rock, Arkansas. He writes of Colonel H.L. Giltner’s Brigade, consisting of the 4th Kentucky Cavalry, 10th Mounted Kentucky Rifles, and 10th Kentucky Cavalry and the 64th Virginia going into camp at Liberty Hill after the Battle of Saltville. It is likely that the plate came to Virginia with Giltner’s men, but it would require more research to determine the most likely candidate. More research may reveal who from Arkansas, or the far west Tennessee and Kentucky counties came to Liberty Hill.
The plate is in extraordinary excavated condition. Usually these plates are disintegrating when they are found. This one is so solid I believe it could be dropped on concrete without damage (I would not tempt fate in such a way). The brass hooks are original and they remain tight. There is absolutely no metal loss around the edges, face or back. The plate has been sealed in polyurethane so that oxygen could not get to the plate itself. Iron breaks down due to oxidation, without oxygen, it will not deteriorate ever. The letters CS on the iron plates, even though stamped well and project out, do not stand out because of the natural camouflage. This plate has had a line scratched into the polyurethane which causes the letters to really “pop” as the pictures show.
The plate is attractive, the letters “pop” and the history is well known; it would be difficult for the excavated plate collector to improve on this plate.