in late 1864, only the Confederate capital of Richmond was more important to the Confederacy than the port of Wilmington, N.C. The Cape Fear River was absolutely vital to the survival of the South as it provided access to the blockade running ships that were transporting supplies into the interior of the Confederacy. In Jan. and Feb. of 1865, the Union had captured Fort Fisher and the Confederate forces retreated to Ft Anderson. In mid Feb. Union General J. D. Cox demonstrated in front of the fort. In the meantime, federal gunboats shelled the fort. By early morning hours of Feb 19 as the attack continued, the Confederates, under General J. Hagood, evacuated Ft Anderson and the Federals immediately occupied it.
on the old colonial location of the Brunswick Town site as an added measure to the defense of Wilmington.
A live oak tree, growing at the end of the battery was present at Fort Anderson at the time of the events surrounding the battle in Feb., 1865 (see photo). The tree grew slowly as manifested by the extremely narrow annual rings in the wood. A piece of dead limb material provided by Ft Anderson park director – Jim McKee was used to make the pen.
with fungi to cause spalting which has an added favorable benefit in making for a beautiful final product. Also, to this web site we add a very unusual item which is a pen made from heart pine that Jim has found in the soil that was used to support a 32-pound rifled cannon at position 3 on the fort. The pitch in the wood had prevented its decay by soil microbes. A photo of the replica -cannon like the one originally at position 3 is shown here.
General Grant doggedly pursued General Lee’s forces through Northern Virginia starting at the Battle of the Wilderness, then Spotsylvania, followed by the North Anna and the deadly encounter with the Confederates at Cold Harbor. Grant ended up crossing the James River and putting a 10 month siege on Petersburg with Lee’s forces literally frozen to do any maneuvering.
General Lee used the building at Violet Bank as his headquarters until late in 1864. He heard the thundering roar of tons of powder exploding at the crater when it occurred on July 30 that took hundreds of Union and Confederate lives. General Lee knew this witness magnolia tree since he saw it every day at his Violet Bank office. .
apparently was given to this place because there used to be an amazing bloom of violet flowers on the bank of the property every year. The witness tree is a cucumber magnolia that was planted in 1718 and one of the largest of its type in the world. It is probably the oldest witness tree wood represented in the entire collection of witness pens. In early 2020, I contacted Wendy Alvis at what is now the Violet Bank Museum and she kindly collected dead limbs from the tree and sent them to me. A beautiful pen was made from one of the larger limb pieces that I received.
including the ones at Chattanooga, Vicksburg, Charleston, Port Hudson and Petersburg. Arguably, the longest land siege, was at the latter and it lasted about 10 months. It occurred toward the end of Grant’s overland campaign to capture Richmond. Grant was deterred from his goal by a fierce and well-organized resistance which lasted from June 15, 1864 to April 2, 1865. Grant’s troops had surrounded the south and east sides of Petersburg leaving west side still open to operations of the Southside railroad that kept some meager supplies still flowing into Petersburg.
the Union army sent General Phil Sheridan on to the western end of the line to advance on the Five Forks. He was stopped overnight at Dinwiddie Court House due to heavy rain. On March 31st he advanced toward Five Forks only to meet significant Confederate resistance, and was forced back toward the Court House. Heavily reinforced overnight, on April 1st the Union again advanced on the now-entrenched Confederates. Vastly outnumbered, the Confederate forces withdrew, in the process allowing the vital South Side Railroad to fall into Union hands. At this point Lee’s entire army departed from Petersburg, only to surrender to Grant eight days later at Appomattox.
from one pine tree located within a mile or so from Dinwiddie Court house as shown in the photo above. Only recently did this tree die. A number of pine trees still grow in the area of Dinwiddie Courthouse that contain bullets fired during this heavy military engagement. The wood of these pines is commonly called heart pine and it can originate from Loblolly, Long -leaf, Short- leaf or Pond Pine. A piece of wood with a bullet in it was obtained from Ian Workman and made into the pen as shown. The lead in the wood is comparable to that of a 58 caliber minie ball.
much of the Confederacy teetered on the brink of defeat, yet Alabama remained relatively unscathed from military activity. The largest cavalry force (15,000 men) in the entire Civil War was organized under General James Wilson. As he headed south his main goal was to destroy the Selma Ordnance and Naval Foundry.
that Wilson encountered was a group of about 4000 men led by the famous Confederate General N.B. Forrest. Action broke out at the intersection of two small country roads near Ebenezer Church. Hand to hand fighting began to occur and Forrest was wounded by a saber wielding Union officer resulting in a wound. The unflinching Forrest pulled his revolver and shot his assailant. Wilson won the battle and quickly moved to take Selma and destroy its works.
there are several very large cedar trees under which 12 Union soldiers were interred after the battle. In April of 2019, a plaque commemorating their service was erected at the cemetery in a joint effort between the Sons Confederate Veterans & Sons Union Veterans. It is the only known plaque in Alabama strictly dedicated to Union soldiers. The Eastern Red Cedar trees shown in the photo at the cemetery witnessed the battle of Ebenezer Church. It is from the largest one that a sample was taken to make this gorgeous pen.
against Robert E. Lee ended in mid- June in 1864 with the Battle of Petersburg. The Battle lasted several days and it was followed by the longest semi-siege in American Military history which Grant’s attempt to take Richmond by denying supplies to Lee’s army via Petersburg. The 9 month’s siege was peppered with fighting a trench –like warfare. However, the most interesting and unusual military maneuver during this time was the battle of the Crater. After Pennsylvania coal miners dug a 510 foot tunnel, on July 30, 1864 8,000 pounds of powder were set off, killing 300 South Carolinian's and forming the Crater.
for the Union army since their troops poured into the crater and were easy targets for the Confederates who swarmed to its edges only to find many easy targets. Ultimately, in the end Grant was successful at getting around Lee’s flank at the Battle of Five Forks. Lee’s defenses collapsed and he was forced to abandon the city. This led to his fateful march along the Appomattox river eastward to his final surrender on April 9, 1865.
a long-leaf pine stem in which a mini- ball had become lodged. It was obtained from Joshua’s Attic, Pa. The tree was located in the Petersburg – Five Forks area in the exact location of the battle. The writing portion of the pen is made from the most famous of all witness trees – The Burnside Bridge Sycamore located at Antietam, Maryland. The pen is thus a hybrid – one of only a few in the entire Strobel collection.
as Union General Sherman marched through Georgia and then South Carolina he continued to move north into North Carolina where by March 19, 1865 he confronted a military trap set by Confederate General Joe Johnston. After a Union probing attack failed, the Confederates launched a massive assault which drove Gen. William P. Carlin's XIV Corps division from the field. Morgan's division managed to hold on despite being surrounded on three sides by Confederate adversaries.
a strong Federal defense of the Morris Farm by the Left Wing's XX Corps managed to squelch the Confederate advance. The first day's fighting ended in a tactical draw. Ultimately after several more days in conflict, Johnston left the field and an agreed peace was made with the Union army a few week later.
was a huge Swamp Chestnut Oak that was the victim of one of the recent hurricanes hitting that area of the south. Now only a large stump remains. The tree measured over 15 ft in circumference and was dated at about 290 years. This is done by counting the rings in the tree cross section or by drilling the standing tree and removing a cylinder of wood and counting the rings. Swamp white oaks are also known as basket oaks and their wood can be wet and woven into baskets or other objects.
had quickly moved out of a nine month long siege of Petersburg to the west along the Appomattox River. General Lee’s ultimate goal was to link up with General Joe Johnston in North Carolina, unite forces and continue the war. However, near Appomattox Station, just to the west of Appomattox Courthouse, the westward movement of the Confederate Army was abruptly halted. One last attempt of a breakout was led by General John Brown Gordon and his artillery.
Tibbs farm and fierce fighting broke out near the farm home. Today, the old farm house is gone but the foundation and old oak tree still stands nearby. In fact, it is within view of the McLean Home where the surrender of General Lee to General Grant was signed on April 9, 1865.
provided me with a nice box of cut pieces of the Tibbs white oak made from a dead stem of the tree for pen making purposes. In fact, he provided enough wood for me to make a set of pens and other objects annually for the Friends of Appomattox sale each year which provides support for the battlefield. The rangers at Appomattox are truly a wonderful group of folks who dearly love the site and wish the best visit to all who go there.
Was not only the last major battle of the war but was also the climax of the Union military campaign aimed at capturing the city of Mobile, the last major port that remained in Confederate hands. The battle took place at the site of Fort Blakeley, an earthen Confederate fortification about six miles north of present-day Spanish Fort. In it, some 16,000 Union troops fought against approximately 3,500 Confederates, with the Union gaining a decisive victory and taking the city of Mobile soon after.
General Lee was surrendering at Appomattox in Virginia, the battle of Fort Blakeley was raging. A live oak tree known as “ye old house tree” was present near to the center of the confederate line on the day of the battle. The live oak tree was almost 100 years old at the time of the battle.
Blakeley town site stood near to the tree when the battle occurred. It still exits today. Mike Bunn, park superintendent, supplied a workable amount of wood from this oak tree. firstname.lastname@example.org