newly installed Union General Burnside made an attempt to take Fredericksburg on his route to Richmond but failed even after the fateful and disparaging “mud march” in Jan., 1863. He was replaced by General Hooker who continued to carry out a plan to cross the Rappahannock River, upstream from Fredericksburg and do a surprise hit on Lee’s army. The long cold winter held any major army movements in check but Hooker made an important decision to dramatically improve his cavalry into an organized unit furnished with leadership as well as repeating Spencer rifles and sabers. In mid- March, 1863, General Averell was given the assignment to attack the Confederate cavalry up on the north fork of the river at Kelly’s Ford to learn if the Union cavalry was up to a match with its counterpart. Crossing the Ford was difficult as sharpshooters had their way with the exposed Union riders.
quickly advanced several miles into Confederate held territory. The match was considered a win by both sides. Averell learned that the Union troopers could hold their own against the Confederates. But a major lost to the Confederates was the death of “Gallant “-Major John Pelham. A read about this young man is worthwhile as he was one of the best cannoneers on either side in the Civil War. His loss brought tears to the eyes of General Jeb Stuart his commander. The Battle of Kelly’s Ford was a prelude to the Battle of Chancellorsville (May, 1862) as well as the largest cavalry battle in the history of North America that of Bandy Station in June 1863.
is a Sycamore tree whose size and growth pattern are consistent with it being a witness tree. A bit further upstream is an extended stone wall spanning several hundred yards from which the Federals were positioned to defend themselves against the on - coming Confederates. It was near to the end of this line that Major John Pelham was hit in the back of his neck with a small shell fragment and later died in Culpepper, Va. Memorials to him are found throughout the South, but the most beautiful and fitting memorial is the one located in the brush and trees where he fell
is without question the Battle of Brandy Station, Va., on June 9, 1863. In May, Lee and the Confederacy had won its greatest battle- Chancellorsville. Now in early June, General Stuart held several reviews of the invincible southern cavalry in and around Brandy Station with bands playing and local ladies with their fine dresses looking on. Making note of these events was General Pleasanton and the Union Cavalry just on the other side of the Rappahannock River who also realized the threat of a Confederate raid around his right flank. On June 9th the Union cavalry charged the Confederates in what was to become the largest cavalry battle ever to occur in North America. The events of this bloody day involved over 20,000 men with 17,000 on horseback totaling 1300 causalities.
My lovely bride Suzan and I met Mr. Clark “Bud” Hall, a former FBI agent who had spent the last 30 years doing everything possible to protect and consolidate the lands that made up the Brandy Station Battlefield. In his late model Ford pickup truck we trundled thru the high grasses in what is the now Battlefield site. We came across Bufford’s knoll and the Cunningham homestead (Wiltshire) which witnessed the heat of the battle in the NE sector of the conflict. Growing near the home was a huge Canadian hemlock witness tree. The tree with me (left) and Bud Hall (right) is located just barely outside of its geographic range and is the only witness tree of its kind to ever be found.
deserves all of the attention and dedication that can and should be given to its preservation and eventual status as a state or federally designated Civil War Battlefield given its unique cavalry battle status and eventual role in Lee’s Pennsylvania campaign. The pen, made from a dead limb of the tree, growing next to the Wiltshire home is one of the finest and prettiest pens in the entire collection.
The CS Army had to rely on guerilla warfare as the main threat to the Union army. 12 miles south of Vicksburg on September 25, 1863 elements of the 2nd Wisconsin cavalry were camped at the old Redbone Church. Whitaker's Confederate Scouts attacked the Union cavalry and were repulsed due to the superior fire power of the Union cavalry.
recently celebrated its 200 year anniversary and even has a Revolutionary War veteran interred in the cemetery. The cemetery has some super old graves and the oldest is of a man who died there in 1814.
grow all over the grounds of the church and cemetery and witnessed all of the events of this church's 200 year as well as the skirmish fought there during the Civil War. I want to give a big Thanks to Tom Hughs of Clinton Mississippi who procured the wood for these beautiful pens.
when Lee’s confederate forces were entering Pennsylvania. This was his second invasion of the North. The earlier foray ended in a bloody stalemate at Antietam creek at Sharpsburg, Md. on Sept. 17th 1862. Lee’s goal was to completely surround Washington D.C. and scare and threaten the Federals enough to ultimately grant independence to the Confederacy. Many of his troops were hungry and ill- equipped . A group of Confederates entered Gettysburg seeking shoes and where they soon ran into the forward arm of the Union army led by General John Buford.
or planned for a major battle to break out at Gettysburg but the inevitable happened. Confederate General Heth’s Division soon overwhelmed the Union troops as they fled through the streets of this small country town. What followed during the 3 days battle was the costliest of all battles in our history with 51,000 soldiers killed, wounded or captured. No one doubts that Gettysburg was a Union victory.
located on Baltimore Pike (one shown in the photo) that witnessed all of the events of 3 days battle at Gettysburg during the Civil War. Of course, this includes the witnessing of Abraham Lincoln as he passed down Baltimore Pike when he was there to dedicate the military cemetery on Nov 19, 1863. Wood from one of these trees was supplied to me by Wm Hewitt of Gettysburg, Pa.
Battle of Champion Hill was the largest, bloodiest, and most significant action of Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign. The troops met in a fierce struggle for a vital crossroads roughly halfway between Vicksburg and Jackson, Mississippi. The field was dominated by bald Champion Hill, from which Confederate artillery opened fire on the Union army. The first Federal assault on the hill drove the Southerners back with bayonets and clubbed muskets.
tried to reform and consolidate their gains, they were swept away by a counterattack led by John Bowen’s Missourians and Arkansans. Ulysses S. Grant ordered more men towards the hill and Bowen’s Confederates were themselves driven off, compelling a general retreat. Ultimately there was a Union victory at Champion Hill which was instrumental in forcing the Confederates out in the open field and into a doomed position inside the walls of Vicksburg.
was used by General Grant as headquarters during the battle. Near the home in 1853 Matilda Champion planted as series of live oaks. One still stands but it died in the 90s. Sid Champion V is shown near the dead witness tree with Gary Strobel . The live oak wood is lovely and nicely figured and many pens have been made from it. Syd is considering turning over Champion Hill to the Civil War Trust or the Federal Government to be made into an ancillary arm of the Famous Vicksburg Battlefield site.
lasted only a single campaign and that was at Fredericksburg, Va in late 1862. General Joe Hooker was the energetic replacement who Lincoln thought could get the job done. By late April of 1863 some of his army had crossed the Rappahannock above Fredericksburg with the idea of encircling Lee’ army. Lee then split his army into three units. General Early to keep an eye on Fredericksburg and Lee to the northwest to face Hooker’s main thrust. Meanwhile, the plan was to have Stonewall Jackson’s corps to make an unheard of 12 mile march around to the backside of Hooker’s army which was mainly posted at a small crossroads village known as Chancellorsville.
was an entanglement of brush, vines, scrub and thickets known as the wilderness. Stonewall attacked and surprised Gen Howard’s corps. Stonewall was killed, but the entire battle was a resounding success for Lee. It gave him the impetus needed for the eventual invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania by mid- year. This area would again be the site of the Battle of the Wilderness as Grant faced Lee at the beginning of the Overland campaign in 1864.
received many thousands rounds of ammunition during both battles there. It turns out that relic hunters target witness trees having lead encased in them since such items command a high price, but they are now hard to find. I acquired a piece of pine (Chancellorsville) from Cary Delery of New Orleans who had obtained it from another dealer years before. This is the second pen in the collection with an actual bullet in the wood. The bullet is a 58 cal round ball probably from a Union rifle. Interestingly, the bottom part of the pen is also made from a piece of yellow pine that served as a floor wedge in the Miller-Kite house at Conrad’s store, Va (in the Shenandoah Valley) where General Stonewall Jackson had his headquarters (during part of the Valley Campaign) and one morning was found asleep on the floor. Both top and bottom pieces of this pen are dedicated to General Stonewall Jackson.
in the Gettysburg cemetery on Nov 19th 1863, just a few months after the bloodiest 3 day battle in America, that Abraham Lincoln, feeling not well, delivered his Gettysburg address. It took just over 2 min and was only about 260 words in length and was essentially finished before many people even knew that he had spoken.
did not garner much attention during his lifetime but is now recognized as one of the most important speeches in the history of our country. It was given at an appropriate place at an appropriate time and this slowly growing honey locust tree witnessed all of the events.
speech to the death and carnage that took place just a few months before on cemetery ridge at Gettysburg. At this point in time the war may have reached its turning point. The pen is one of the prettiest in the entire collection.
standing today are the original structures of the battlefield from 1863. The Trostle house was used as a hospital, The barn still bears a scar of the battle - a hole near the roof-line through which a cannonball passed on July 2nd, after Union Gen. Dan Sickles egregiously moved his 3rd Corps forward to form a salient at the Peach Orchard not far to the west.
in front of the house stands a monument for the 9th Massachusetts Battery. The battery stood its ground here, allowing other units to retreat safely back towards Seminary Ridge sustaining huge losses.
was made from the swamp white oak under which Sickles had his headquarters.
With a de facto French government under Maximillian south of the Rio Grande, the Confederates hoped to establish trade between Texas and Mexico to obtain much needed supplies. The Lincoln administration, sought to establish a military presence in Texas to discourage Mexican influence. South of Beaumont, Texas is a lake with a river exit (Sabine pass) to the Gulf of Mexico. In the early morning of September 8, 1863, a Union flotilla of four gunboats and seven troop transports steamed into the Sabine River with the intention of reducing Fort Griffin outside of Sabine City and landing troops there. As the gunboats approached Fort Griffin, they came under accurate fire from the old and big guns there.
under command of Irishman Lt. Richard W. Dowling disabled two ships, captured the gunboat Clifton with about 200 prisoners, and forced the Union flotilla to retire. The Confederate defenders suffered zero casualties and Union operations in the area ceased. The heroics at Fort Griffin - 49 men stopping a Union expedition - inspired other Confederates and became known as one of the most lopsided battles of the war. It is the only case in the entire Civil War that the Confederacy awarded the Davis medal to any of its fighters.
but a few hundred yards away, in the town of Sabine Pass there exists an old live oak that seems to qualify as a witness tree. In this area the trees are stressed and grow slowly usually at the rate of only 8-10 annual rings per one radial inch. This tree could easily be 180 yrs old. The people in Sabine pass, at the time of the battle, helped Richard Dowling and his crew handle all of the prisoners that were captured on the Union boats. The tree or one of its ancestors witnessed the battle of sabine pass.
Union General W.S Rosecrans to take all of the Eastern Tennessee area from Confederate influence in mid- 1863. Rosecrans finally moved and had a successful Tullahoma campaign and continued by forcing confederate Braxton Bragg out of Chattanooga. Bragg regrouped and was determined to retake Chattanooga. He was reinforced with Virginia divisions. Ultimately, a fatal mistake was made by Rosecrans, believing a gap existed in his line, ordered General Thomas Wood’s division to fill the gap. Gen Wood followed orders knowing that it was a mistake.
Longstreet’s men to crush the Federal line. Union General Thomas’s men took command of Horseshoe Ridge and held out for an additional day, but ultimately the entire Union army retreated back to Chattanooga and the Confederates ended up surrounding it. Chickamauga was a Confederate victory, but one of the bloodiest battles in the entire war, in fact it is ranked number two in lives lost. Two months later, Grant would retake Chattanooga.
the forest was harvested in the main battlefield site, thus no witness trees remained. But, presently on a golf course located on Cannon Drive adjacent to the Chickamauga National Park battlefield is a huge Shumard oak tree. The Confederate troops participating in the battle would have had to cross Chickamauga Creek near and around where this oak tree now stands. It is very likely that this is a witness tree and a pen made from a dead stem is part of the collection.
built in 1858, stands today as Vicksburg’s most historic structure and has hosted such guests and speakers as Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, Booker T. Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and William McKinley. On the grounds a local planter, Jefferson Davis, launched his political career. Several years later, during the War Between the States, Confederate Generals Stephen D. Lee, John C. Breckinridge, and Earl Van Dorn watched from the cupola as the Confederate ironclad Arkansas battled its way through the federal fleet to safety at Vicksburg.
the building was the target of much union shelling over the course of a 42 day siege but suffered only one major hit. When that shell hit it seems to have dislodged a board in the cupola. It was here on July 4, 1863 that the Stars and Bars were lowered and the Stars and Stripes were raised as General U S Grant reviewed his victorious army. When asked if any witness trees survived the war Mr Bolm could think of none. Thus, the Warren County Court House wood is the best that can be done for Vicksburg.
and had a square nail in a square hole at one end of the board. The nail is in the photograph and the hole that it made is the darkened area in the top of the pen.
It is also to be noted that Col W H McCardle who was the AAG to Gen John Pemberton, a newspaper editor and author is honored with the McCardle Room in the Court House Museum. He was also the GGG Grandfather of Richard McCardle of UCVRELICS.COM who convinced me to do this website and has done all the website work and background research for it. Thanks Rich