When park rangers caught Eric George Blaasch inside the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, he was covered in mud and carrying tools and a flashlight. He told them he had gotten lost hiking.

But when police found he was in possession of war artifacts, Blaasch came clean and admitted he had been treasure hunting.

Blaasch, 53, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Rome, admitting to digging 15 holes in the park and stealing three Minie balls, Civil War-war era bullets.

Blaasch had left his metal detector and shovel near the holes.

Blaasch was indicted in 2009, but the charges stem from a February 2005 incident. The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Roemer, said the park had to bring in an archaeologist to assess the damages, which totaled more than $9,400.

The defendant was charged with knowingly excavating, removing, damaging and otherwise altering and defacing archaeological resources located on public lands without having a permit to do so.

Blaasch will not be ordered to pay restitution, but he could face up to two years in prison and 94 days public service. He will be sentenced on Oct. 8.