Civil War Battlefield Survey at Jonesboro Road Project
Location: City of Hampton; Clayton and Henry counties
Members of the Georgia Historic Artifacts and Research Group (GHARG) during the Jonesboro Rd. Survey
In December 2009 and January 2010, members of the Georgia Historical Artifacts and Research Group (GHARG) based in McDonough, Georgia assisted Southeastern Archeological Services, Inc. (SAS) and the Georgia Department of Transportation in conducting a metal detector survey of the proposed Jonesboro Road Widening and Rehabilitation Project in the city of Hampton, Clayton and Henry Counties, Georgia.
Early coordination for the Jonesboro Road Widening and Rehabilitation Project [GDOT Project STP-1583-00(012), PI 352970] identified the project location as an area containing a large number of cultural resources pertaining to the Civil War. A stakeholders meeting and numerous consultation meetings were conducted between GDOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and project consultants to discuss the appropriate manner in which to approach identification and evaluation of resources within the project corridor. Project archaeologists and historians worked together to develop a battlefield boundary for the Battles of Lovejoy Station, encompassing an area that saw three distinct engagements during the Atlanta Campaign. This boundary has served as a foundation for considering resources related to the Civil War throughout the course of the project. Information on the the Civil War engagements in the project vicinity are available from the Henry County Nash Farm Battlefield website.
Conducted as part of the Phase I/II survey and testing of the Battles of Lovejoy Station battlefield under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the survey strategy was developed by SAS, under contract with Wolverton & Associates, in coordination with the GDOT project archaeologist, SHPO, and Henry County Civil War historian and GHARG president Mark Pollard. Additional coordination was performed with the various landowners throughout the corridor whose property would be subject to survey.
Georgia DOT Archaeologist Sara Gale (l), GHARG Member Jim West (center), and SAS Archaeologist Joel Jones (r) record the location of an artifact
Throughout the course of the field survey, 17 GHARG members volunteered a total of 390 hours over the course of five weekends, between December 2009 and January 2010. Group members helped to survey approximately 60 acres of land along the project corridor in often adverse weather conditions, including unseasonably cold temperatures, rain, and even snow. This survey represents the largest metal detection survey effort undertaken on a GDOT project to date and proved to be a successful collaboration between GDOT and GHARG.
The methods utilized during the survey were outlined in a research design prepared by SAS in consultation with GDOT, SHPO, and Henry County Civil War historian Mark Pollard. GHARG volunteers systematically surveyed transects along the proposed project corridor under the supervision of archaeologists, who collected recovered artifacts and mapped their locations using GPS technology.
SAS archaeologist Joel Jones (r), GHARG President and Henry County Civil War historian Mark Pollard (center), and GHARG volunteer Mike Estes (l) consult on the identification of artifacts collected during the Jonesboro Road Survey.
In addition to the weekends of field survey, an artifact identification day was held in February 2010. This event, conducted at Henry County’s Nash Farm Battlefield, allowed the GHARG volunteers an opportunity to view the artifacts recovered from the site and aid SAS archaeologists in artifact identification. GHARG members were teamed up with archaeologists to examine the artifacts and review the preliminary identification conducted in the laboratory by SAS. This effort was helpful in refining the artifact identification of some and identifying previously unidentifiable artifacts. The experience proved to be an enjoyable and informative day that was concluded with a thank-you luncheon for project volunteers.
Looking to the Future
With the completion of the field survey, SAS is currently in the process of analyzing the data recovered during the Phase I/II archeological survey of the project corridor. They will prepare a report of their findings and a National Register of Historic Places evaluation of any cultural resources identified during the metal detector survey, as well as the traditional Phase I shovel testing survey. These results will be used by GDOT to assess the potential impacts that the Jonesboro Road project may have on cultural resources identified within the project corridor, including resources associated with the various Civil War engagements that occurred in the vicinity of the project. While still early in the Section 106 process, the Jonesboro Road Project has proven to be a successful collaboration between GDOT, SAS, and GHARG. Collaboration between professional archaeologists and local metal detector groups has been shown to be a productive and useful tool in the survey of Civil War resources and the present survey is no exception. GDOT looks forward to additional such collaborations on future projects throughout the state.
A Note Regarding Metal Detection: There are numerous State and Federal laws governing metal detection and artifact collection in the state of Georgia. For a discussion of cultural resources laws pertaining to metal detection please visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Historic Preservation Division website.