No doubt it’s sunny today but when I wrote this a few days back it seemed like it had been raining for a week straight. Don’t get me wrong because I love a good thunderstorm or two, but when it rains day after day, I get pretty darn antsy.

So after about the fourth day of torrential rain storms that could choke even the biggest frog, I decided I had better do something productive before I went completely postal. So, believe it or not, I hunkered down in the AC, watched a few things on TV and – believe it or not – decided to do a bit of reading, something I rarely have time to do.

I am sure many of you have read or at least heard of the book “The Bluffton Expedition” by Jeff Fulgham, but until my neighbor plopped it in my hands, I had never heard of it. That shouldn’t surprise any of you who know me and my increasingly hermit-like lifestyle.

It’s not a lengthy book at all, but when I opened the cover and saw large type, I knew that this was my kind of book. You see, when I read it’s usually right before bedtime. I don’t know if it’s an affliction but even back in my school days, reading has always put me to sleep. I had more rulers slap my desk to wake me up during high school than any kid alive.

Even now it takes me a month or two to finish a book. Every night I hop into bed, grab my book and, if I’m lucky, make it through two or three pages before I fall asleep. The problem being, when I doze off, the book falls on the floor so I lose my place. So the next night I have to re-read a page or two to find where I left off and then maybe (and I emphasize “maybe”) make it through one or two more pages before it hits the floor again.

Needless to say, by the time I finish the book, I can almost recite it word for word.

But enough about my strange habits, and back to “The Bluffton Expedition.” I have always been a history buff. Having grown up here, I always thought I had a pretty good grasp on the earliest days on Hilton Head Island and Bluffton.

Without divulging too much about Jeff’s book, I learned more from this book about what really happened here during the Civil War than I ever imagined.

The subtitle of his book is “The burning of Bluffton, South Carolina, during the Civil War.” Sadly, I didn’t even know Bluffton was burned down during this period.

The book describes Union and Confederate scouting parties sneaking around each other’s encampments, raids and large gunboats patrolling the May River. But the parts in this book that intrigued me the most were some of the old maps that showed where soldiers made camps so they could act as sentries should one side or another try to sneak past.

One such spot is within spitting distance of my house and now all I can think about is getting a metal detector and head out to look for artifacts.

Unfortunately, summer is not the time to go looking for such things unless you wear a biohazard suit. Between the mosquitoes and no-see-ums that are part of our summers, you chance becoming an artifact yourself if you try finding Civil War relics during the hot months. Experience has taught me that lesson more than once.

The time to go is in the dead of winter – or at least wait until after the first killing frost when the undergrowth has died back.

I don’t know what it is about hunting for artifacts that excites me so much but if I had enough free time, I could do it just about every day. There is just something about walking along looking at the ground and – almost as if it appears out of nowhere – you see the edge of an old medicine bottle protruding from the soil. Not sure if it’s just a piece or the entire bottle, you gently dig around it and up comes this piece of history.

I have bottles with dates stamped on them that go back to the Civil War. I have found musket balls, spoons, telegraph keys, plates and all manner of other items, and each one tells a story. Every time I find one of these things, I daydream about who might have dropped the item. What were they doing in that spot? Was it an encampment? It just fascinates me to no end.

If you are a lazy reader like myself, or if you just want to learn some really cool history about Bluffton and Hilton Head, get a copy of Jeff Fulgham’s book “The Bluffton Expedition.” If a book can capture MY attention then, by gum, it can capture anyone’s attention! Don’t believe me? Just ask any of my high school teachers! 

Collins Doughtie, a 60-year resident of the Lowcountry, is a sportsman, graphic artist, and lover of nature.