Civil War Picture with Soldiers Using J Hooks

Civil War J Hooks? (Amazing Historic Find)

Old military relics are my favorite finds when metal detecting. Recently, I found ancient coins, bullet shells, and a Civil War J hook. A fellow metal detector enthusiast looked at my finds, and the military J hooks caught his attention as he was unfamiliar with them.

A J hook is a piece of metal with a curved end and button-like top. Soldiers used them to secure their knapsacks to their bodies. Another vital purpose of a J hook is to hold accessories outside the bag so soldiers can easily access them.

How To Identify a J Hook?

Civil War Backpack J Hook
Civil War Backpack J Hook

The Civil War is a part of history from 1861 to 1865. This war between the Confederate and Union troops happened due to three reasons:

  • states versus federal rights
  • disagreements about slavery
  • the election of Abraham Lincoln

After four years of battles after battles, the war ended with Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendering to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. But even though the Civil War happened 150 years ago, you can still find remnants of items used during the battles. One of these items is military J hooks. (source)

The Civil War J Hook

A Civil War J hook is a piece of history. As the name suggests, it has a shape that resembles the letter J. If you find one while metal detecting, it may either have rusting or greening on the surface, depending on the material used for making it.

A military J hook may be round and hollow on its top end. At the same time, other variations have a button-like top. Regardless of how it looks, the purpose of the J hook’s top part is to connect it to a soldier’s bag or clothing.

Moreover, it is essential not to mistake a military J hook for a fisherman’s hook. While the two may look slightly similar when corroded, a military J hook has a thick body and rounded end. On the other hand, a fisherman’s hook has a thin body and a sharp end used to hold bait. (source)

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What Are Civil War J Hooks Made Of?

Many military J hooks consist of iron as their primary material. It is why the old one you may find when metal detecting will undoubtedly have rust around it.

However, the materials used for making military J hooks may differ. Southern-made J hooks consisted of iron, while the ones made from the north had a brass material. It means that if the old J hook you dug while metal detecting has greening on the surface, you were able to find a northern brass J hook. Military J hooks are durable regardless of the materials used, so they are still in their original shape even after 150 years.

Military J hooks also come in different sizes. The ones used for knapsack bags were pretty small. Meanwhile, soldiers used the larger ones to hold heavier items like swords. Small J hooks commonly had brass as their primary material, while the large ones consisted of iron. (source)

What Are J Hooks Used For?

J Hook Metal Detecting Find
J Hook Metal Detecting Find

The primary purpose of Civil War J hooks is to hang items outside the soldier’s knapsack. This way, soldiers can carry more things that should otherwise be inside their bags. Soldiers may have also used these hooks to hang items that they need to easily access instead of packing them inside their knapsacks. 

A J hook also works by securing a soldier’s backpack into their body by connecting it to their clothing. This way, the bag will not move around when the soldiers need to run and find a safe place.

Apart from attaching them to a knapsack, another purpose of a J hook is to add extra support to a rifleman’s belt. This way, soldiers can ensure that their rifles will not fall off or cause any inconvenience. (source)

What Are Military J Hooks?

Soldiers had a lot of items to carry while they were at war. However, Civil War knapsacks were not large enough to contain their essential items. For this reason, soldiers used military J hooks to help them carry their extra belongings.

A Civil War J hook is a piece of curved metal used by soldiers to attach accessories to their knapsacks. Made with either iron or brass and in different sizes, a J hook is sturdy enough to support heavy items.

As the name implies, soldiers mainly used J hooks during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865. J hooks helped soldiers bring all needed items, even if their knapsacks were already full. Despite their size, these hooks can carry heavy objects without falling easily due to the soldier’s continuous movement. The reason is that the curve on the hook is deep enough to support the items the soldiers needed to hang.

However, some Civil War J hooks still fell during battles. You may find many of them today while you are metal detecting. (source)

What Are Old Military J Hooks Worth?

Today, you will usually find military J hooks scattered and buried under the ground. You can easily spot them anywhere if you have a good metal detector. But what are military J hooks worth?

Military J hooks are a part of American Civil War history. However, they do not cost much when you try to sell them as a collector item. One reason is that it is relatively easy to find military J hooks, especially on battlefields where Confederate troops combated against United States troops.

Description and LinkValue $$$
Federal Knapsack J Hook Brass (Link to eBay)$19.99
Civil War Combat Pack J Hook & Buckle (Link to eBay)$12.00

Moreover, Civil War J hooks may have more monetary value if you are lucky enough to find them with bullet shells, buckles, and other Civil War relics. You can sell these relics as a set on websites where people who collect items used during the American Civil war purchase such stuff.

But suppose you can find many military J hooks and other Civil War relics. In that case, you can turn them into profitable items. There is a considerable market for Civil War relics, with clubs and organizations formed by people who like to collect such things.

But during the Civil War, J hooks were essential items used by soldiers. It allows them to carry their knapsacks securely, so they will not swing around no matter how much the soldiers move. Even when these hooks are relatively small, they provide excellent convenience as soldiers can quickly get their most needed items during battles while hanging on the bag instead of inside it. (source)

What Can Civil War Relics Can You Find Other Than J Hooks?

Military J hooks may have more value if you can sell them in a set along with other relics. Suppose you like looking for Civil War artifacts. In that case, you will not be disappointed as there are a lot of valuable items around waiting for you to find them.

Some of the most valuable Civil War relics you can find when detecting metal are parts of a soldier’s uniform. That includes belt plates, clothing buttons, and buckles. If you are lucky enough, you may also find personal household items.

However, suppose you find potentially dangerous items like bullets filled with gunpowder or other types of ammunition. In that case, you need to report them immediately to the authorities.

Can You Look for Military J Hooks In Civil War Sites?

Many people are fond of collecting Civil War relics. One reason is that they tell the story of what happened during that period of history. Some people also look for these J-shaped hooks and add them to their antique collection.

Civil War J Hook and Buckle
Civil War J Hook and Buckle

Of course, old battlefields are the best location to look for Civil War J hooks. However, it is essential to note that it is illegal to metal detect on federally-recognized Civil War battlefields. Civil War battle sites are memorial and historical sites. For this reason, you cannot excavate on such lands even if you have a metal detecting license. Y

ou can try asking the authorities for a written permit. However, the chance of obtaining one is very slim.

Metal Detecting and Finding Civil War J Hook

Where To Find Military J Hooks

Metal detecting is legal in many public places in the US. Since the American Civil War lasted for four years, you can find military J hooks and other relics even in places that were not a battlefield. Still, it is essential to ask permission from the authorities in the area where you plan to metal detect. This way, you can ensure that the place does not have any rules for metal detecting that you may unknowingly violate.

Another good site where you can metal detect military J hooks are private properties. Private lands do not have many metal detector enthusiasts exploring the areas. For this reason, you have good chances of finding J hooks and Civil War relics in such places.

However, it is crucial to ask permission from the private property owner before digging. Some states in the US also require a written permit rather than verbal consent, so it is better to have a written permit signed by the property owner. This way, you will have something to present if a police officer passes by the area and sees you metal detecting.

If you found a valuable Civil War relic on private land, you must report what you found to the authorities. On the other hand, relics found in public places have a “finders keepers” rule unless the relic resembles a treasure. (source)

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Metal Detectorist Recap

Civil War J hooks are small pieces of metal that tell a story of what happened during the American Civil War. Soldiers used them to secure their bags and hold items outside the bags while staying in the camp.

Now that you know what military J hooks are, you know what you can do with them if you found some while metal detecting. Suppose you are not passionate about collecting such items. In that case, you can sell them to people who collect old items with historical value.

Do you have questions about military J hooks? If you do, feel free to leave them in the comments section, and we’ll be happy to answer them!

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David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.

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  1. Keith D. Dickson. The Civil War For Dummies. Canada: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Accessed September 26, 2022.
  2. CM Thunder. Civil War J Hook? Treasurenet.Com. June 20, 2020. Accessed September 26, 2022.
  3. Scott. What Was The Civil War “J” Hook Used For? Treasurenet.Com. June 30, 2007. Accessed September 26, 2022.
  4. Iowa Museum Association. Object Record. Accessed September 26, 2022.
  5. Scott F. Anfinson. Practical Heritage Management: Preserving a Tangible Past. USA: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018. Accessed September 26, 2022.
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