We know that he abhorred slavery and his well- spoken main goal was to preserve the Union. An engagement in a Civil War seemed the only path forward to that end. Nevertheless, maybe he had an epiphany in 1862 to finally realize the issue of slavery indeed was the bedrock supporting the economic cause of contention. After some hint of success on Sept 17, 1862, at Antietam he issued a preliminary emancipation proclamation that all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states shall be free, and by Jan 1, 1863, the document was official. But on July 2, 1862, he signed into law that Land Grant Act that gave each state support for a University such as the one that I have been at for 60 years- Montana State University. Later in 1863, he issued a Proclamation that Thanksgiving would be a national holiday. Lincoln was incredible!
until mid -May of 1865, and the federal authorities had no way to enforce the Proclamation until Union General Granger arrived. Then, between the shade of two bois d’arc trees that grew before the home of plantation owner, John B. Sweeny, Jr, masters and slaves of fourteen plantations of Brazoria County assembled on June 19th, 1865, and the slaves were pronounced as free. Likewise, at the Palmer Plantation in Missouri City, Texas, under a live oak tree, the slaves learned that they too were free. These trees now play an important role in the Juneteenth celebrations-and the old live oak is the central feature of the Freedom Tree Park- the newest National Holiday was established to commemorate the these events in June of 2021. Let the holiday serve as a reminder that Freedom and Liberty are to be cherished and slavery will never again appear on our shores.
that the freedmen and plantation owners stood under no longer exist just as slavery doesn’t exist. The last one died in 2011. However, its trunk remains to serve as a monument to this memorable and historic event. Mr Sam Collins of Hitchcock, Texas was kind enough to supply a piece of wood from the dead Bois de Arc tree also known as Osage Orange. And Mr. Mike Rooney of Little Elm, Texas, not only helped with this entry but also was instrumental in acquiring wood from Mr. Paul Wierzbicki, city forester, of Missouri City, Texas. The photo of the pens shows the bois de arc pen on the top and the live oak pen on the bottom.
served as the major target of Union interests. Multiple attempts to capture and destroy it were unsuccessful starting with Manassas 1, followed by the Peninsula campaign then Manassas 2, and finally the Fredericksburg and Overland campaigns. Its residents grew weary of the sounds of artillery fire as well as the multitude of privations that dominated everyday life. But by early April, 1865, everything changed as Lee’s troopers were overrun at 5 forks and the Confederate forces evacuated the confines of Petersburg and Richmond. On April 2, Lee sent a telegram to President Davis who was in a church service. It read- “I advise that all preparations be made for leaving Richmond tonight.”
chaos reigned in Richmond with Military Governor Ewell having been ordered to destroy the city’s goods before the Yankees got to them. Soon fires were rampant throughout Richmond and virtually the entire city was in flames. Even the ironclad ships in the James River were set on fire. Also, later on April 3, elements of the Union cavalry entered the city and raised the Union flag over the capitol building. By April 4 President Lincoln paid a visit to Richmond and was asked how to treat the citizens and his answer was – “I’d let em up easy”
and overlooking the James River is an area that was not destroyed by the early April fires. This area is the Hollywood cemetery that had been established in 1847 and is within only a mile of downtown Richmond. The cemetery, today contains the remains of 18,000 Confederate soldiers, 2 US presidents as well as President Davis and his family. Most importantly, just when we were visiting this sacred place a storm had recently blown down a white oak tree that had witnessed the events surrounding the destruction of Richmond. I counted the annual rings on the tree and there were over 220. As a plant scientist I like to think that some of the carbon dioxide containing smoke from the Richmond fires became incorporated into this giant oak via photosynthesis. Wood from a side limb was made into a beautiful fountain pen and added to the collection.
most significant Civil War locations. It was an important crossing point of the Potomac River having a pivot bridge over the B&O canal allowing ready access to the river. In order to assure protection of the site Federal troops maintained a presence in the area.
crossed the river at Edwards Ferry via Harrison Island during the battle at Ball’s Bluff. Later in the year, Professor Thaddeus Lowe set up an observational balloon camp here and used tethered hot air balloons to observe Confederate activities in an around Leesburg. Then on June 25-27, 1863 about 75,000 Union troops crossed the river on twin pontoon bridges each 1400’ in length on their way to the battle of Gettysburg.
having a girth diameter of almost 8 ft., graces the Edwards Ferry site and has witnessed the events described above. Mr Luke Greer, photographer in Loudon County, Va., was kind enough to find a tree sample which was made into the pen shown.
to take Richmond from the north. Then a plan was hatched by General McClellan to invade peninsular Virginia from Fortress Monroe located at the terminus of the Virginia peninsula. It was here that nearly 120,000 troops were landed between March and July of 1862. Soon the fort and its environs could not handle the massive influx of troops and thus was established Fort Hamilton near to present day Hampton, Virginia. It is surmised that the roadway from Ft Monroe to Ft. Hamilton would have taken the thousands of Union troops immediately past an old live oak tree which is now known as the Emancipation Oak.
decision at Fort Monroe in 1861 changed the fate of many African-American slaves, enabling hundreds to reach freedom behind Union lines. Although previously forbidden an education by Virginia law, the rising number of “contraband's” camped in the area prompted the establishment of schools for those freedmen who exhibited “a great thirst for knowledge”. The peaceful shade of the young oak served as the first classroom for newly freed men and women, eager for an education. Mrs. Mary Peake, daughter of a freed colored woman and a Frenchman, conducted the first lessons taught under the oak located on the University’s campus. Classes continued with The Butler School, which was constructed in 1863 next to the oak.
gathered to hear a prayer answered. The Emancipation Oak was the site of the first Southern reading of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation an act which accelerated the demand for African-American education.
This Oak stands near the entrance of the Hampton University campus and is a lasting symbol of the University’s rich heritage and perseverance. With limbs sprawling over a hundred feet in diameter, the Emancipation oak is designated as one of the 10 Great Trees of the World by the National Geographic Society. President William Harvey of Hampton University generously provided a small piece of bark to me from the Emancipation Oak (live oak). Turning this wood was difficult since it was bark and the tissues were not firmly held together. It is definitely one of a kind!
Civil War were written in Kansas and Missouri where irregular combatants fought. The fighting and deprecation's in this area started shortly after passage of the Kansas/Nebraska act in 1854. On October 6, 1863 William Quantrill and his men, having sacked Lawrence Kansas, happened upon a Federal post (Ft Blair) at Baxter Springs, Ks. Defending the post were parts of the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry and the 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry.
surprising the Yankees, who suffered heavy casualties before barricading themselves inside the earth-and-timber fortress. Soon union General James G. Blunt appeared, commander of the forces in Kansas, who was in the process of moving his headquarters from Fort Scott, Kansas, to Fort Smith, Arkansas Blunt spotted Quantrill’s men but mistook them for Union troops because many were dressed in captured Yankee uniforms. Quantrill attacked, and the scene turned into a massacre.
reconstructed Ft Blair with nice signage giving details about the battle. At the base of this sign once stood a giant example of one of this nation’s greatest and most beloved trees- an American Elm. Its classic umbrella canopy shaded the troops of Ft Blair but it also played a role in vigilante justice. The cause of death of the tree was most likely Dutch Elm disease which was accidentally introduced to this country from Europe in the 1930s and it quickly spread throughout the entire range of the elms. A slowly rotting trunk is all that presently remains of this important tree. A small piece of it was enough to allow me to make the pen for the collection.
lies Lexington Va, home to Washington college ( what would become Washington and Lee University) and the Virginia Military Institute (VMI). It was to this small town that Stonewall Jackson’s remains were brought for burial in May of 1863 with much fanfare. One year later in early May of 1864, the VMI cadets were called to protect the Shenandoah as they marched 80 miles north to meet Union General F Sigel at New Market.
was replaced by General David Hunter and the war came to Lexington. Hunter attacked, looted and burned the Governor’s home as well as houses and buildings of VMI. Union shells also rained down on the town and Confederate General McClausland’s overwhelmed forces could offer little resistance.
is the Presbyterian church that Jackson faithfully attended when he was an instructor at VMI. Just up the road is the cemetery in which grows a stately old white oak tree. It was near this tree that he was buried. It was a bit difficult to find a dead limb from this tree that was big enough to make a pen, but I was successful and the result is stunning! This tree witnessed General Hunter and his troops arriving from the north and heard the wicked sounds of cannons blasting away at the helpless institutions, buildings and homes of Lexington.
the upper canal and the Union ignorance of the Fredericksburg geography combined to stop an attack by Union General John Gibbon’s troops during the battle on May 3, 1863. Although the Union leaders had been warned of a “deep trench or canal [that] ran around the town, between it and the hills, which would prove a serious obstacle to the passage of troops,” that vital piece of information was ignored and Gibbon and his forces were sent in. They crossed the lower canal, but the Confederates forces destroyed the only bridge that spanned the upper canal. The canal was about 30’ wide, about 6’ deep, and in the Confederate field of fire.
Gibbon’s forces were stymied. The dam was also the scene of North-South fraternization and unofficial truces that occurred on the Rappahannock River in the winter of 1862-63. In mid-April 1863, several Southern soldiers “were up to their necks seining for fish” just below the dam. One Union soldier recounted the banter hollered across the dam. During the exchange, the Union soldier said he had come to help take Richmond. The rebel replied that we would have a tough time doing that, and that “we would have a Hill to climb, a Longstreet to travel and a Stonewall to batter down…”
white oak that was recovered from the crib dam by Historic Woods of Fredericksburg, Va. The wood had turned black by virtue of being exposed to years of being under water. When it was being turned on the lathe sparks began to fly. Close examination of the wood revealed that it had begun to petrify. A very close look at the wood shows small crystals of silica.
Western and Atlantic Railroad at Tunnel Hill, Georgia along with all of the bridges and rail line from Big Shanty ( now Kennesaw, Ga) to Chattanooga, Tn. were the targets James Andrews and a group of about 20 Union raiders on April 12, 1862. The raiders literally stole the train pulled by the locomotive the “General” when it stopped at Big Shanty to take on water and fuel allowing the crew to have breakfast.
robbed the entire train and drove it north toward Tennessee. The conductor, William Fuller, tirelessly ran after the General until he secured another locomotive the “Texas”. The race was on! The trains had to pass through the longest train tunnel in the south (1477 ft). Ultimately, the General ran out of fuel and the confederate army caught the thieves. Swift justice resulted in Andrews and several of his men being hanged in June, 1862.
is a huge old chestnut oak that witnessed both trains as they traveled north to fulfill historic destiny. This pen is made from that tree.
is the most enduring historic symbol of the birth of the Confederacy. It is a magnificent live oak under whose spreading branches on July 31, 1844, a crowd heard U.S. Rep. Robert Barnwell Rhett (fire eater) proclaim that it was time to consider separation from the Union.
"The one great evil from which all other evils have flowed is the overthrow of the Constitution of the United States. The government of the United States is no longer the government of a Confederate Republic, but of a consolidated democracy….. It is, in fact, such a government as Great Britain attempted to set over our fathers, and which was resisted and defeated by a seven years struggle for independence."
unmarked today on private property and mostly unnoticed. The site on which it stands is regarded as the birthplace for a movement that grew into South Carolina's ultimate secession (Dec 1860) and the bombardment of Ft Sumter. Emmett McCracken used to own the land and he was kind enough to arrange to send along a piece of a dead limb to me. The piece was thin and had to be glued to make it large enough to make into a pen.
Sycamore trees growing along the banks of the Shenandoah River within the confines of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The oldest one lives almost to the point of where the two rivers meet.
within a hundred yards of the old fire station where John Brown took his famous stand. This town was also the scene of several major battles during the war including the taking of the union garrison by the Stonewall brigade as a prelude of Lee’s invasion of Maryland.
is made from one of those Sycamores that witnessed all of early events as well as the battles that were fought at Harpers Ferry.