In May 1894, a metal time capsule stuffed with Confederate mementos and artifacts was placed beneath the cornerstone of a Confederate monument being erected in Raleigh.
Inside was a button said to from a dress coat belonging to Gen. Robert E. Lee, a lock of his hair and a strand plucked from the tail of his famous horse Traveler. Among newspapers, money and souvenirs was the bullet that killed the horse of Brig. Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew, the North Carolinian officer who was severely wounded near Richmond in 1862 while riding the steed.
Some 125 years later, the Confederate Soldiers Monument no longer stands on Capitol grounds. It was recently moved by order of Gov. Roy Cooper.
|A wooden box held items placed in time capsule|
The time capsule was opened Thursday, yielding a sodden mess of items that conservators used water and tweezers to separate and discern. Buttons were rusted and everything was covered by muck.
The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources provided a video and photographs of the opening of the dented metal box in a laboratory.
|Rusted buttons found in capsule (NC Department of Natural & Cultural Resources)|
“Because the metal box containing the items had rusted through in places, the items contained in the time capsule were severely damaged by the elements,” the department said.
“Items recovered so far include a wooden box, a stone thought to be from Gettysburg, two buttons attached to a piece of textile and a strand of what appears to be horse hair. Preservation work on these items and the metal box itself has begun.”
According to the News & Observer, the capsule was found Monday when workers were dismantling the base of the monument.
|Metal capsule shortly before it was opened July 2|
Cooper cited public safety in issuing his June 20 removal order, hours after protesters toppled bronze statues of soldiers from the base one of three Confederate monuments on Capitol grounds, the newspaper reported. All three monuments were removed.
Among other items said to be placed in the time capsule were a Bible found at Appomattox and a letter written by a North Carolina soldier shortly before he was mortally wounded.
The Picket reached out Friday to state officials for more details. We will update this item once we hear back from them after the holiday.