On December 15th, 2015 Bigman Geophysical was hired to conduct a search for an historic cemetery developed immediately after the Revolutionary War at the site of Kettle Creek Battlefield. We worked with Trace Sargent and her expert dog search team from K9 Search & Rescue Specialists, Inc. This cemetery had no remaining grave markers and could be anywhere on the hill adjacent to the vicious battle of Kettle Creek. This cemetery was associated with a church, which is also no longer standing. What to do, what to do? We hired the dogs to rapidly search the hill and pinpoint areas with human remains scent. These dogs can pick up the sent of decomposed bodies that were buried centuries earlier, and since decomposing bodies of any species contains a unique set of compounds, these dogs can distinguish between humans and other animals. All three dogs pinpointed the same location for the possible cemetery and alerted the expert dog handler within three feet of each other. WOW! We were all super impressed. Now we will be able to go in like a surgeon and just pinpoint targets to investigate with other methods such as ground penetrating radar (GPR). Before we left the area, the dogs picked up on another possible cemetery on the same hill. This one might be a family cemetery related to an old farmstead.
After this success, we moved over War Hill where most of the battle took place. The dogs again located an area that might contain human remains. This time however, the remains might be those of fallen Revolutionary War soldiers. The dogs were again alerted within a few feet of each other. This project is a great one that shows the usefulness of human remains detection dogs when trying to cover a large area. Projects can begin with these types of rapid, large-scale techniques and then refine to higher resolution, but more time consuming methods of grave detection.