Fort Sumter, South Carolina April 12, 1861

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The single most important act

that instigated the Civil War in the United States was the bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861. In early 1861 troops of South Carolina erected two 10 inch mortar batteries consisting of two mortars each. The signal shot which opened the bombardment of Fort Sumter and marked the beginning of the American Civil War was fired from the east mortar battery on that  fateful day. 

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A historical marker

( shown in the photo) indicates where the battery was located. The marker stands just a few yards from the powder magazine that dates to about 1830 and is still in  great condition. And the entire fortification is known as Fort Johnson and it was located but a few hundred yards from Fort Sumter which was a Federal outpost located on an island in the Charleston Harbor.  

Then again on July 3, 1864, Fort Johnson came on the scene when about 130 Confederate troops repulsed an attack of two Union regiments totalling about 1000 men. The on Feb 17, 1865, Fort Johnson was evacuated during the Confederate withdrawal from Charleston harbor.

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A large live oak tree

stands between the historical marker where the first shells were fired and the powder magazine. A dead limb from it was supplied by Katie Hiott of the SC marine biology laboratory who acquired it with a male friend who mounted a ladder and with a saw removed a dead limb. The live oak was just a youngster at the time of the firing of the first shells from Ft Johnson on the shoreline against Ft Sumter on the island 

First Battle of Manassas

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On July 16, 1861

the large new Union volunteer  army under Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell marched from Washington DC toward the Confederate army under Gen.  Pierre G. T. Beauregard, drawn up behind Bull Run creek west of  Centreville, Va. Beauregard's men defended the strategic railroad  junction at Manassas, just west of the creek. After a brief engagement on the 17th, heavy fighting began early on the  21st, when two of McDowell's divisions crossed at Sudley Ford.  Fighting raged throughout the morning as Confederate forces were driven  back to Henry Hill and more Union brigades crossed Bull Run.  

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In the afternoon

Confederate reinforcements  arrived via railroad (a first in modern warfare) from Gen. Joseph Johnston's army in the Shenandoah Valley. In this group was a brigade of Virginians under Gen. Thomas J. Jackson.  After fierce fighting in the area, Jackson held his ground on Henry Hill "like a stone wall." Finally, the Federals retreated into what appeared  as a complete rout. The next day, the shattered Union army reached the  safety of Washington and the first large battle of the war was over.   The emboldened Confederates would fight on for nearly four more years. But again on August  28-30 of 1862, there would be another battle here on the same ground also resulting in a Confederate victory. 

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The Red Oak Tree

near the famous stone bridge on the Manassas battlefield was photographed the day after the battle. It appears at encircled site in the photograph. A dead limb piece was supplied by a dear friend. The tree also had been core ring counted by a local girl scout and verified by the NPS. The  battlefield has over 10 NPS verified witness trees. It is to be noted that this battlefield attracted crowds of people from Washington DC in their horse drawn carriages, parasols and box lunches. The American view of what the war would be was soon changed.

1st Battle of the Civil War July 5 1861 Carthage, Missouri

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It is considered the first battle of the Civil War

since artillery, infantry, and cavalry units were all present. The Federals being greeted at the time they marched north to battle thru Carthage. A young lady dressed in a Union flag dress that she had made was there to wave them into battle. Within a day’s time the picture was different in Carthage as the Federal troops were in full retreat. 

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Missouri’s loyalties were split at the outset of the war.

General  Nathanial Lyon, stationed in Missouri, was fiercely dedicated to preserving the Union. Union Col Franz Siegel organized an expedition into SW Mo to disperse a group led by Gov. Claiborne Jackson who were loyal to the Confederate cause. The two  groups met about 9 miles north of Carthage and a rout of the Union troops occurred as Jackson was reinforced with a large Confederate force. The Union troops withdrew to the south and finally all of the way through Carthage. It was an easy Confederate victory.  

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Just north of town

on the north side of dry creek is a huge old post oak which would have been present at the time of the battle. It witnessed the Union troops retreating to the safety of the town. A nice dead limb provided material for a pen. Note that all of the troops were not dressed in regular uniform and is because there was not uniform designation at this early date in the war. A beautiful museum exists in Carthage dedicated to the Civil War activities in this area.  

The Battle Of Wilson Creek Missouri August 10, 1861

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Missouri Held a strategic position

at the time of the Civil War. It had come into the Union in 1820 as a slave state, but the Union did everything in its power to neutralize that position. The story of the  civil war in mid- America is convoluted and involves much intrigue. In its bid to gain strength and influence on Missouri , Union General Lyon, on Aug 10, 1861, led an under manned  force to Wilson’s creek.

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He faced a much larger

Confederate force led by Gen Sterling Price who eventually overwhelmed him and his troops. After his death near the chestnut oak witness tree on the hill overlooking Wilson’s creek, the Union troops retired back to Springfield. 

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Interestingly

Missouri is number three in the number of battles that occurred in it during the war. This pen is made from old chestnut oak located on the battlefield. It has since died and is now hosting a honey bee hive. 

Bowling Green Kentucky 1861

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“I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky”- Abraham Lincoln

Thus, although Kentucky officially adopted a position of neutrality at the  beginning of the conflict  this policy lasted for less than five months. In September 1861, troops  from both sides moved into Kentucky. A crucial move was that of  Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner who took Bowling Green on September 18. Because of its location on the Barren River and proximity to the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, Bowling Green was a major gain for the Confederacy. By the middle of October, more than 12,000 Southern troops occupied a fortified Bowling Green. Several weeks later, Confederate sympathizers held  a “Sovereignty Convention” in nearby Russellville and they created a  provisional Confederate government and named Bowling Green as its  capital. 

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However, by Feburary, 1862

Union victories pushed the Confederates to leave the region and they slipped off to Nashville, under Union bombardment, leaving the city in ruins as a result of numerous fires set to destroy crucial features of the town. Union soldiers seized Bowling Green on February 14, after civilians alerted them that the Southern army had departed. Union General Ormsby Mitchel was placed in charge of the Federal forces at Bowling Green and they secured a Union defensive line. Bowling Green stayed under Union control for the remainder of the Civil War. 

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Interestingly, near the edge of the

Russellville  – Bowling Green roadway (just outside of Bowling Green) there grows a huge Eastern cottonwood tree. It witnessed the comings and goings of thousands of Union and Confederate troops to  the area. The tree has grown to a circumference of 27 feet and has one of the largest diameters of any tree in the  entire Strobel witness tree collection. When the 97 year old owner – Mr. Wheeler was asked if it witnessed the war – his answer was a resounding  – YES.  The tree was of interest to Kentucky artist Mr. Charles Brindley who recently became fascinated with the tree and did an outstanding drawing of it in his own unique manner and style.