April 9, 1865 there were other conflicts raging on multiple fronts such as Johnston’s Confederate army facing Sherman in North Carolina, Union General Wilson chasing N.B. Forrest in Alabama and the battle of Ft. Blakeley on Mobile Bay on April 9. News of Lee’s capitulation spread wide and far even to the outer most parts of the Confederacy such as Brownsville, Texas. Interestingly, a gentleman's agreement (March, 1865) precluded fighting on the Rio Grande where the Confederates held Ft. Brown (Col. R.I.P. Ford) while the Union (Col.T.H. Barrett) held Brazos Island.
that the Confederates were preparing to evacuate Brownsville. Also, for other reasons including the possibility of acquiring horses for his troops, for the vain glory of war, or acquiring stores of cotton for his larder, he ordered his troops west towards Brownsville. On the 12th and 13th the Union troops were challenged by Ford’s cavalry as well as a battery of cannons (given by the French) at Palmito Ranch. The Federal lines quickly fell apart and they were pursued almost all of the way back to the island. Overall, The Federals had 500 men and the Confederates had 300. The losses on both sides were small but over 100 Federals were captured. The battle was a total victory for the Confederates. Private John Williams of the 34th Indiana was the last man to die in the Civil War. All three men are pictured above.
is barren of all trees, over near the Rio Grande River and on a loma there still exists chaparral which was an important part of the battlefield at Palmito Ranch. Descriptions of the battle include information on how the troops sought shelter in a small group of trees. The major tree species in the chaparral is honey mesquite which is a small statured tree having beautiful hardwood. Mr. Joseph Barnett of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was kind enough to search out this area and find a tree that we have calculated to be over 180 years old. Mr. Mike Rooney of Dallas, Texas was helpful in making the contact with Joseph as well as helping to prepare the text for this entry.
sent a telegram to Jeff Davis, the Confederate President, advising him to evacuate Richmond; the end of the war was at hand! Davis turned pale as he read the dreaded message that was delivered to him while he sat in the pews at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond. Subsequently, Lee and his troops immediately evacuated both Richmond and Petersburg where they has been under the longest siege of the Civil War. With the exception of smaller groups of the Anderson/ Pickett / Johnson, troops traveling south of the Appomattox River all other troops moved independently in columns north of the river ie. General's Ewell, Mahone, Longstreet, and Gordon. All were heading westward to the Amelia Court House area to pick up vital supplies, enabling their journey to eventually head south to join up with General Joe Johnston and his army in North Carolina.
when only ammo was on the train and no rations. Collectively, all columns then moved onward to the Farmville area to pick up supplies from that train station. However, before reaching that goal they were met with the largest confrontation in their 7 day retreat- “Sailors Creek.” The Confederacy lost 8800 men here, mostly as prisoners of war and much of its leadership. It was the one of the largest losses of men, without terms, of the entire war.
The battle was actually three distinct engagements in the general area of Little Sailor’s Creek. It pitted Gen. J. Gordon’s rear guard against the Union 2nd Corps under A. Humphreys on the Lockett Farm; Gen. R. Ewell’s two divisions against the Union’s 6 Corps under Gen. H. Wright near the J. Hillsman Farm and finally two Confederate divisions under Gen. R. Anderson against Gen. G. W. Merritt and his Union cavalry in the vicinity of Marshall’s Crossroads. The splitting of the Confederate forces had been managed by Gen. Phil Sheridan whose cavalry troops began harassing the line of retreat from the disappointing time at Amelia Court House. At Marshall’s Crossroads Gen. Lee remarked to Gen. Mahone “My God! Has the army been dissolved?”
which is 4 feet in diameter has just been found at the Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Park and located close to its geographic center. It is estimated to be about 220 or more years old. And with the help of Park Ranger Josh Lindamood as well as Eileen and John Huffman of Appomattox, dead limb material was located and eventually made into a pen.
the Union Army's II Corps of the Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the Appomattox Campaign of the American Civil War. In early June of 1865, as Lee’s army retreated from the areas around Richmond and Petersburg, several columns of the army moved independently westward along routes north of the Appomattox river. His goal was to eventually meet up with General Joe Johnston in North Carolina and join forces. They were followed separately by Union forces south of the river. After river crossings by the Confederates, putting them south of the river, the two armies met at Sailor’s creek in a major loss to the Confederacy on April 6th. Then, after the battle at High Bridge, there was a split in both forces, with units of each army moving both south and north of the river. Ultimately, further west at Farmville, all Confederate units crossed the river to its north side. In the meantime, other major Union forces under Sheridan and Ord continued their westward march toward Appomattox station to cut off the Confederates moving westward effectively, splitting the Union army.
north of the river to meet the Confederates at Cumberland Church. It was the last victory for Lee’s troops in the Civil War. Unfortunately, hundreds of troops lost their lives here and Lee’s surrender was only 2 days away.
Most importantly that evening as Lee and Longstreet were in conference near Cumberland Church a message arrived from Grant. The Federal commander was enjoying an evening in Farmville where he was able to watch a joyous procession of his infantry from the steps of the Randolph House Hotel. In his message, Grant presented Lee with the facts of the situation as he saw them:
The results of the last week must convince you that the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood, by asking you to surrender that portion of the CS Army known as the Army of Northern Virginia.”
Your obedient servant
US Grant, Lt. General, Commanding Armies of the United States
is a post oak (large tree on the left) that is 4.3’ in dia. and is well over 250 years old. The pen is beautifully spalded by fungal growth. The collection of dead wood from the tree and the church/tree photo were made by John and Eileen Huffman of Appomattox, Va.
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