As Mike Kisling and Westminster student Chris Leonard dig for treasure through the soft ground here with a spade and a small metal detector early Friday afternoon, they're not searching for gold: They hope to strike lead.
And they find it. As a crowd of other "treasure hunters" gather around to see the new discovery, Kisling finally breaks apart a muddy clod to reveal a bullet they believe was fired from a .44 Colt variant, most likely fired by Union troops at ambushing Confederate guerillas during the Battle of Moore's Mill.
Kisling and Leonard are two of about 55 students, researchers and volunteers searching through tracts of land for relics left over from Callaway County's largest Civil War conflict this weekend as part of an archeological survey through the Missouri Civil War Heritage Foundation and its local affiliate, Kingdom of Callaway Civil War Heritage.
Students and researchers from as far as England began pouring into Callaway Thursday evening to prepare for dig efforts scheduled until today, weather permitting. Many came from history and archeology departments within Westminster College and Lindenwood University in St. Charles. The dig is sponsored through grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program.
Actual dig efforts began Friday morning, and by 2 p.m. surveyors had uncovered six bullets, one canister ball - a type of anti-personnel pellet fired from a cannon similar to grapeshot - and a ball puller - a screw used to remove a lead ball or other debris from the barrel of a gun in the event of a jam.