What do Buttons and Cannons Have in Common? . . . October 31, 2009

By David Stone, Volunteer

I am writing this blog on day five of the survey from the comfort of my hotel suite in Provo. The other team members are slaving away in the hot sun while my wife and I had to take a day off and recuperate. Reality is slowly setting in and the heat and humidity are taking their toll. Not that the work is particularly arduous, in fact, it is incredibly interesting as we are learning new things almost by the minute. And it is especially gratifying and rewarding from an inner sense and perspective.

On the third day of the project, and our first in the water, I was able to see very clearly the five submerged cannons. Now this is getting exciting! I imagined troops standing behind the cannons loading them and firing them at the enemy out on the reef. If I were a button that’s where I’d fall off – right behind a cannon. And one of my hopes for this project was that I would find a button that could help to fill in the story of the fort and its soldiers.

One of the more common items we are finding on land and in the water are pieces of shot, bits of iron and other metal fragments, often concreted together. So when my detector beeped yet again behind one of the partially buried cannons it was nothing special. I figured it was probably just another chunk of shot.

For some unexplained reason I happened to look in my sand scoop. Caught between the two screens I spied what I thought was a nickel. It was about the right size but appeared a bit curved and devoid of any writing. Closer examination revealed I had found my button! Neal Hitch told me that only a few of these buttons were found previously, but only on land. The ocean has taken its toll on this button and a bit of the detail is worn off from being submerged for some 200 years.

That afternoon back at Pine Cay, Neal and I found a British website with over 100 British regimental uniform buttons on display. The new button matched one on the website perfectly, although not in as good a condition and it is dated 1795. He pointed out that we don’t know what that means exactly. Was the button made only in 1795? Was the first appearance of the button in 1795 and how long was it made? A few answers and lots more questions. But from now on I can say that the best button from Ft St George was found under what is — in my opinion — the best cannon.