In Richmond, a new time capsule found under a statue but still no treasure

A second box was discovered Tuesday inside the base of a Confederate statue after one found in the same place in mid-December. Inside, around sixty objects dating from 1887.

A week ago, the disappointment was great for American collectors. The metal box found in the stone plinth of General Robert Lee’s statue in Richmond, Virginia, revealed nothing more than three soggy books and an unreadable photo. Far from the promises of a time capsule buried in 1887 by residents of the former capital of the Confederate States, filled with objects from the time and especially a photograph of Abraham Lincoln in his coffin.

Surprise: a new box was found in the same place on Tuesday. Without Lincoln’s cliché, only a drawing of a kneeling woman meditating in front of Abraham Lincoln’s coffin, which nevertheless makes it the most striking document among the relics found… The drawing had been published as a central double page in the review Harper’s weekly two weeks after the assassination on April 14, 1865 of the American president.

The copper box, about thirty centimeters square, contained a total of about sixty articles, the list of which had been published in a Richmond newspaper that year. Its content “Is in much better condition than we expected”, explains Kate Ridgeway, the head of the department of historic resources for the state of Virginia. Items “Were wetter than we expected, but not as bad as they could have been”, she specifies.

Ammunition and a fragment of a bomb

Inside, technicians from the Virginia State Department of Historical Resources also found Minié bullets (Civil War ammunition between 1861 and 1865), Confederate government issued notes and coins, newspapers and magazines, an almanac dating from 1887, books, a Bible and documents from Masonic lodges in the region. Two small wood carvings – the Masonic symbols of the set square and compass and a Confederate flag – were in an envelope. Experts say they were cut from the tree that grew near the grave of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, a Confederate general.

A bookmark with the drawn profile of General Lee was placed in one of the books. The box also contained a fragment of a bomb used in the Battle of Fredericksburg, won by the Southerners in 1862.

Seen as a symbol of the country’s slavery past by many Americans, the statue, inaugurated in 1890, had become the target of anti-racist protests after the death of African-American George Floyd, killed by a white policeman in May 2020. She was debunked in September, in a context of questioning of Confederate monuments, and its base was moved.

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