Thomas S. Dickey Sr. (19251987)
Courtesy The Atlanta History Center

Using a metal detector to comb battlefields, Dickey acquired the largest and most comprehensive collection of Civil War artillery projectiles in the United States. Most of his collection is now on exhibit at the Atlanta History Center. The Thomas Swift Dickey Civil War Ordnance Collection is the one of the largest collections of projectiles ever assembled in the United States. Some of these projectiles are one-of-a-kind, and can be found nowhere else. Thomas Swift Dickey, a native of Atlanta, Tom Dickey - Click to enlarge began collecting Civil War artifacts as a small boy on property his father owned at what was once the southern end of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's Chattahoochee River line for the defense of Atlanta. The collection began modestly in a small shoe box! After graduating from college and getting married, collecting Civil War relics took on a new emphasis and meaning. When Dickey's interest in collecting was rekindled in the early 1950s, the best metal detectors available were surplus mine detectors from World War II, which had limited capability. Since few people had begun collecting, it was not difficult to locate the shallow projectiles once he knew where to look. As time went on, new technology produced a far more sensitive metal detector, which made it possible to locate artifacts much deeper in the earth. As his interest in collecting grew, his research on battles also began to get more detailed and sophisticated. Gun emplacement positions, projectile trajectory, battle strategy, and topography were just a few of the considerations he used in uncovering the secrets the battlefields held. Artillery was the "engine of war," he always believed. And, this was not just any war fought in a far away land. It was a war that took place on the soil where he was born and grew up, and therein lay his fascination with the Civil War and its artillery.   

Collecting was only part of Dickey's contribution. As a military historian, his research and careful documentation of each type of projectile eventually found its way into three books, which became the standard references for collectors and historians today. He was the first collector to classify hundreds of Confederate and Union projectiles, along with their many variations. That effort has earned him the reputation as the "father" of Civil War artillery projectile collecting. The projectiles on display in the Atlanta History Center are a silent testimony and memory to the personal efforts and dedication of one man and his quest to rediscover a time, its artifacts, its lost secrets, and its meaning.

Thomas S. Dickey Sr. Collection

These photographs taken by Jack W. Melton Jr. in 1987 inside Dickey's Relic Room.

Click on the photographs to see a larger image.  Please be patient with the images.  They are large in size.

"Baby" Shells less than 3-inches in caliber
Jack and Tom Dickey in Tom's Relic Room in 1987
Jack and Tom Dickey, 1986
Jack inside the Dickey Collection room

Tom Dickey's Location Legend

Many of the shells from the collection of pioneer artillery expert Tom Dickey are numbered with a small white number.  This number was used by Tom to indicate the recovery location of the item.
1 Nickajack Creek, Georgia
2 Vicksburg, Mississippi
3 Kennesaw Mountain Area, Georgia
4 New Hope Church, Georgia
5 Resaca, Georgia (Atlanta Campaign)
6 Jonesboro, Georgia
7 Port Hudson, Louisiana
8 Spanish Fort, Alabama
9 Champion's Hill, Mississippi
10 Etowah River, Georgia
11 Cheatham Hill, Georgia (Battle of Kennesaw Mountain)
12 Bolton, Georgia
13 (Superstitious?)
14 Peachtree Creek, Georgia
15 Smyrna, Georgia
16 Fort Pulaski, Georgia (off park)
17 Virginia
18 Fort McAllister, Georgia
19 Fort Morgan, Alabama
20 Johnson's River line, Georgia
21 Nashville, Tennessee
22 Ezra Church, Georgia
23 Cassville, Georgia
24 Savannah Georgia siege lines
25 Ridgewood Road Section, Georgia
26 Dallas, Georgia lines
27 Ruff's Mill
28 North east of Red Oak, Georgia
29 Potato Hill
30 14th Street Line, Atlanta, Georgia
31 Lovejoy Station, Georgia
32 Rose Dhu Island, Georgia
33 Pickets Mill, Dallas, Georgia
34 Nodine's Hill, Georgia
35 New Salem Church, Georgia
36 Decatur Street & Expressway, Atlanta, Georgia
37 East Point, Georgia
38 Turners Ferry (Atlanta Side)
39 Battery Tracy, Alabama
40 Gilgal Church, Georgia
41 Federal hoop shaped lines west of Ruffs Mill
42 Battle of Atlanta Area
43 Chickamauga, Georgia
44 Hilton Head, South Carolina
45 Honey Hill, South Carolina
46  Fort Tyler, Georgia, Alabama
47 Paces Ferry (Atlanta side)
48 City of Atlanta, Georgia
49 Coosawhatchee, South Carolina
50 Campbellton Fry, Georgia
51 Dug Gap, Georgia
52 Mill Creek Gap, Georgia
53 Union lines off Fairburn Rd., Georgia
54 Mud Creek Line, Georgia
55 Davis Hill, Atlanta, Georgia
56 Fredericksburg, Virginia
57 Union lines facing Kennesaw Mountain at R.R. (Georgia)
58 Two hills west of Nodine's Hill, Georgia
59 Confederate Blockage Runner, "Modern Greece" off North Carolina coast
60 Lovett School, Georgia
61 Sandtown Ferry, Georgia
62 Bakers Ferry, Georgia
63 Pine Mountain, Georgia
64 Decatur, Georgia
65 Marietta Blvd. near Bolton, Atlanta, Georgia
66 Iowa Battery, Dallas, Georgia
67 Pigeon Hill, Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia
68 Rose Dhu Island
69 Jackson, Mississippi
70 Fort Sherman - Hilton Head, South Carolina
71 Camp Highland Rd. near South Cobb Drive
72 Double Bridges, Louisiana
73 Confederate Lines just south of Turners Fry on Atlanta side of river.
74 Whitmarsh Island (Savannah, Georgia)
75 Mobile Bay, Alabama
76 Manette Bay Batteries at Spanish Fort, Alabama
77 Blakely, Alabama
78 Mobile siege lines
79 Battery Hugar, Mobile, Alabama
80 Pocotelligo, South Carolina
81 Gains Mill, Virginia
82 Smyrna Confederate lines
83 Hill between Nancy Creek Road & Chattahoochee Ave.
84 One hill behind Nodine's Hill, Georgia
85 Allatoona Pass, Georgia
86 Shiloh, Tennessee
87 Fort Sumter, South Carolina
88 Griswaldville Pistol Factory, Georgia
89 One mile behind Kennesaw Mountain
90 Adams Park (East Point, Georgia)
91 Federal lines at John White Park
92 Fort Fisher, North Carolina
93 From blockade runner Ella, sunk off Smith Island, North Carolina
94 Battle of Secessionville, South Carolina
95 Battery Pringle, South Carolina
96 Fredericksburg, Virginia (area)
97 Battery Cheves, James Island, South Carolina
98 Five Folks, Virginia
99 Morris Island, South Carolina
100 Togodo Creek, South Carolina
101 Daily Farm, Savannah Siege Lines
102 Battle of Drewy's Bluff, Virginia
103 Bakers Louisiana school ground
104 Fort Donaldson, Tennessee
105 Chattanooga, Tennessee
106 Washington, North Carolina
107 Hill by "Battle Rama"
108 Hill in front of Kennesaw Mountain at Hwy 41, Four Lane
109 Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
110 High Bridge, Virginia
111 Fauquier Springs, Virginia
112 James Island, South Carolina
113 (blank)
114 Fortress Monroe, Virginia
115 Yorktown, Virginia
116 Edisto Island, South Carolina
117 Hill behind Strahl's Fort, Kennesaw area
118 Across river from Wiltown Bluff, South Carolina
119 Battery Leroy, Charleston, South Carolina
120 Westernmost Federal Fort on Long Island, Charleston South Carolina
121 Petersburg, Virginia
122 State of Tennessee
123 Pine Point Battery (Savannah siege lines)
124 Battery Barnes (Savannah siege lines)
125 Raccoon Creek, Georgia
126 Hill between Cassville & Kingston, Georgia
127 Grand Gulf, Mississippi
128 State of Tennessee
129 Blythe's Ferry, Tennessee
130 Confederate lines north of Carolina Beach, North Carolina
131 Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina
132 Camp on west side of Big Black River, Mississippi
133 Fort Pike, Louisiana
134 Carlisle, Pennsylvania
135 McKever Farm, Pennsylvania
136 Turners Gap (South Mountain), Virginia
137 Battle of Antietam, Maryland
138 State of Alabama
139 St. Johns Bluff (Jacksonville, Florida)
140 Battle of Columbus, Georgia (Phoenix City, Alabama)
141 U.S.S. Cairo
142 From river at Selma, Alabama (Selma Arsenal)
143 Found when excavation was dug for a building at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
144 State of South Carolina
145 Beaufort, South Carolina
146 Brasher City, Louisiana area
147 Federal Battery on Dean Forrest Road, Savannah, Georgia
148 Mississippi River at Island #10, Tennessee
149 Missionary Ridge, Tennessee
150 Sullivan's Island, South Carolina
151 Fort Palmetto, South Carolina
152 Fort Clinch, Florida
153 Jacksonville, Florida area
154 Sollegree, near Charleston, South Carolina
155 Battle of Manetta Ferry, Louisiana
156 In river in vicinity of Savannah, Georgia
157 Georgia coast
158 Washington, North Carolina
159 Whitehall, North Carolina
160 Fort Anderson, North Carolina
161 Maryland Heights near Harpers Ferry
162 Fort Branch in North Carolina
163 Dredged from bottom of Ashley River, Charleston, South Carolina
164 Wateree Swamp, South Carolina
165 Behind walls of old house in Charleston, South Carolina
166 Fort Hinman, Kentucky
167 Virginia Rocket find
168 Battery Jones, Savannah, Georgia
169 Field east of U.S. 17 at Battery Jones, Savannah, Georgia
170 Pea Ridge, Arkansas
171 Pensacola, Florida
172 Across river from Lovett's School, Atlanta, Georgia
173 Site of C. S. Navy works, Charlotte, North Carolina
174 New England
175 State of North Carolina
176 Washington Navy Yard proving ground
177 James River Battery, Virginia
178 Excavation for Cobb County Airport, Kennesaw, Georgia
179 Maryland
180 From Oconee River in Milledgeville, Georgia
181 Downtown Savannah, Georgia
182 Charleston, South Carolina
183 Yorktown, Virginia
184 Cold Harbor, Virginia
185 Georgetown County, South Carolina
186 Savannah, Georgia area
187 Yellow Bayou, Louisiana area
188 John White Park, Atlanta, Georgia
189 From river at Wiltown Bluff, South Carolina
190 From river at Fort Branch, North Carolina
191 From between Defores Fry Road & Chattahoochee Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia
192 Black Island, Charleston, South Carolina
193 Confederate Battery Coosawhatchie River, South Carolina
194 U.S.S. Commodore Hull, Washington, North Carolina
195 Snyder's Bluff, Mississippi
196 Railroad Bridge, Coosawhatchie River, South Carolina
197 St. Johns Bluff, Florida
198 C. S. Battery in north defenses of Charleston, South Carolina
199 C. S. Battery just north of Savannah River in South Carolina
200 From state of Iowa
201 Newbern, North Carolina
202 Probably from West Point proving grounds, New York
203 Camden, South Carolina
204 Large hill south of Six Flags over Georgia, on west side of Chattahoochee River
205 Helena, Arkansas
206 Bolton, Georgia
207 Battle of Bisland, Louisiana
208 Island #10, Tennessee
209 Apalachicola, Florida
210 Chickasaw Bayou, Mississippi
211 Fort Roberts, Plymouth, North Carolina
212 Fort Sanders, Knoxville, Tennessee
213 Unused number
214 Federal lines in front of Savannah, Georgia
215 C. S. Blockade runner Georgiana sunk off Isle of Palms, South Carolina
216 South of Bankhead Hwy. in Atlanta, near Davis Hill
217 Near Fort Darling, Drury's Bluff on James River, Virginia
218 Malvern Hill, Virginia
219 Robert Parrott proving ground, Cold Spring, New York
220 Fort Powell, Mobile Bay, Alabama
221 Allegheny Arsenal site, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
222 Shreveport, Louisiana
223 State of South Carolina
224 Fairfax, Virginia
225 Arkansas
226 Fort Hell, Petersburg, Virginia
227 Fort Harrison, Virginia
228 Columbia, Kentucky
229 Moccasin Bend, Chattanooga, Tennessee
230 West Point, New York proving ground
231 Pilot Knob, Missouri
232 Bannerman's, New York
233 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania GAR Hall
234 Tupelo, Mississippi
235 Fairfax Station, Virginia
236 Manassas Battlefield, Virginia
237 South Mountain, Maryland
238 Museum in Orlando, Florida
239 Antique shop at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
240 Ohio Gun Show
241 State of Florida
242 Moccasin Bend (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
243 Wateree Swamp, South Carolina
244 Federal battery position before Coosawhatchie, South Carolina
245 Stafford Court House, Virginia
246 North Anna, Virginia
247 Cerro Gordo (Mexican-American War)
248 James River (probably Revolutionary War)
249 Poison Springs, Arkansas
250 Fort Stoddert, Alabama
251 Walnut Hills north of Vicksburg, Mississippi
252 Sulphur Trestle, Alabama
253 Stafford County, Virginia
254 Marshall, Texas
255 State of Louisiana
256 Baton Rouge, Louisiana
257 Baltimore Collection
258 The Grierson Raid, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
259 Lexington, Virginia
260 Above Charleston, South Carolina
261 State of Texas
262 Savannah, Georgia
263 Botetourt artillery encampment, Vicksburg, Mississippi
264 Moccasin Bend, Chattanooga, Tennessee
265 James River area below Richmond, Virginia
266 Combahee River at Dia Ching site, South Carolina
267 Fort Granger, Columbia, Tennessee
268 50 miles south of Houston, Texas
269 C.S.S. Georgia in Savannah River, Georgia
270 John's Island, South Carolina
271 Dalton, Georgia
272 Boston Loyal Legion Post
273 South Carolina Coast
274 Federal Batteries on James River near Richmond, Virginia
275 Richmond, Virginia area
276 Stafford County, Virginia (Union camp)
277 Arkansas Pass, Padre Island, Texas
278 Catlet Station, Virginia
279 From the C.S.S. Virginia
280 Shingle from McLean House, Appomattox, Virginia
281 Andersonville Stockade, Georgia
282 Fernandina, Florida
283 Simmsport, Louisiana
284  From James River near Jamestown, Virginia
285 Near Deltaville, Virginia near Chesapeake Bay
286 Battle of Bloody Marsh, Georgia
287 Fort Gilmore, Richmond lines, Virginia
288 C. S. Bat At Hill's Point, Nansemond River, Virginia
289 Found off Northside Drive, Atlanta, Georgia
290 Second Manassas, Virginia
291 Port Gibson, Mississippi
292 Kiawah Island, South Carolina
293 Chattanooga, Tennessee area
294 (Missing)
295 Fort Anderson, North Carolina
296 Bulltown, West Virginia (Braxton County)
297 Gauley Bridge, West Virginia
298 Roanoke Island, North Carolina
299 Confederate camp at Palmotto, Georgia
300 James Island, South Carolina, near Stono River
301 West Virginia
302 Maplan Sands proving ground, England
303 Fake stand of grape, Wappingers Falls, New York
304 Isle of Palms, South Carolina
305 Hamilton's Crossing, Virginia
306 City Point, Virginia (found in water)
307 Folly Island, South Carolina (Union camp)
308-349 Unused numbers
350 Caisson in Big Black River, Mississippi
351 From river at Augusta, Georgia
352 Louisiana camp at Manassas, Virginia
353 Wateree Swamp, South Carolina
354 Buffalo Bayou, Houston, Texas
355 Confederate siege lines, Mobile, Alabama
356 Jones Battery, Savannah siege lines
357 Adams Run, South Carolina
358 Poison Springs, Arkansas
359 Cero Gordo, Mexico (Mexican War)
360 Island #10, Tennessee
361 Tennessee river at Bridgeport, Alabama
362 Maryland Heights, Maryland
363 Kings Bridge (Savannah, Georgia area)
364 Bannerman's
365 Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
366 Ralph Righton collection
367 James Island, South Carolina
368 C.S.S. Georgia in Savannah River, Georgia
369 Potter's Landing below MacLenville, South Carolina
370 Fort Sumter, South Carolina
371 Annapolis, Maryland
372 Washington Navy Yard, D.C.
373 Haiti
374 Long Island, South Carolina
375 Chancellorsville, Virginia
376 Fort Monroe, Virginia
377 Manassas, Virginia
378 Wilderness, Virginia
379 Causton Bluff, Savannah Georgia
380 Tar Bluff, South Carolina
381 West End, Atlanta, Georgia
382 From river at Columbia, South Carolina
383 Near Glaze Foundry, Columbia, South Carolina
384 Fort at St. Mary's, Georgia
385 Falmouth, Virginia (across river from Fredericksburg)
386 Southwest Atlanta
387 Charleston, South Carolina
388 North Anna, Virginia