The Witness Trees
They are the last witnesses to the bloody battles which raged across our nation. For 140 years they have stood silent witness to the carnage that threatened tear a country apart. Many yet bear the scars of those terrible battles. Each year their ranks are thinned as they give way to the ravages of time and disease. And yet their descendants live on, grand reminders of those who stood tall during our nation's darkest hour. They are the Civil War Witness Trees.
These magnolias overlook the more than 12,000 graves of Union soldiers who died at the infamous prison camp at Andersonville, Georgia.
This photo, taken shortly after the Civil War, shows the wooden markers which were erected under the direction of Clara Barton. Andersonville became a National Cemetery on August 17, 1865.
This huge Sycamore tree stands on the banks of Antietam Creek next to the quaint stone bridge which spans the rippling stream. It is a living witness to America's bloodiest day. On September 17, 1862 Union and Confederate forces fought at this bridge and in the fields and forest nearby. By the end of the day the opposing forces had suffered over 23,000 casualties, the bloodiest single day in American history.
The Sycamore is clearly visible on the far side of the bridge in this photo taken shortly after the battle.
Courthouse Honey Locust
stood for 186 years on the site of the official end to America's long and
bloody Civil War. On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee
surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in the parlor of
Wilmer Mclean's home in the hamlet of Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia.
Courthouse Pin Oak
This tree also grows
near the spot where 28,000 Confederates of Lee's Army of Northern
Virginia surrendered to Union forces on April 12, 1865.
Union soldiers stand beside stacked arms at the site of Lee's surrender.
On September 19-20, 1863 Union and Confederate forces fought one of the bloodiest battles of the war in the northern Georgia forests near a sluggish stream called Chickamauga. Many of the trees that witnessed the battle still survive, including this Willow Oak.
Victorious Confederates charge through the heavily forested battlefield of Chickamauga.
This massive oak stands on the crest of Marye's
Heights at Fredericksburg, Virginia, scene of one of the bloodiest and
most tragic assaults of the Civil War.
Marye's Heights, Fredricksburg
This wartime photo of Bromptom shows the rifle pits dug in the front yard of the house.
two catalpas, gnarled with age, stand on the lawn of the imposing brick
mansion called Chatham, that served as Union headquarters during the
bloody Civil War battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, in December 1862.
A wartime photo of Chatham, complete with army wagons in the front yard.
|Bigelow`s Battery Swamp White Oak
This tree on the Trostle Farm witnessed fierce fighting on July 2, 1863. Union General Daniel Sickles established his headquarters under the tree at Trostle Farm on July 2, 1863. A sketch made at the time of the battle by bugler Charles Reed of Captain John Bigelow`s 9th Massachusetts Light Artillery shows the tree shading Sickles and his staff as the general issued orders. Sickles was wounded near this tree, his leg crushed by a cannon ball as he watched the action from horseback. Bigelow's battery was overrun by Mississippi troops. The battery lost almost half of its 92 men, four of its six guns and 80 of its 88 horses. Bigelow, twice wounded, was brought to the rear by Reed, who later received a Medal of Honor for the deed.
|Trostle Farm, Gettysburg
This photo taken shortly after the battle shows the dead artillery horses of Bigelow's Battery in the foreground.
of Trees White Oaks
On the afternoon of July 3, 1863 some 11,000 Confederates marched towards the Union lines in the climatic spectacle known as "Pickett's Charge". One of the few landmarks to guide the charge was a copse of oak trees near the center of the Union line. It was near these tress that Pickett's men briefly pierced the Union line before being driven back.
Charge, Gettysburg Cyclorama
This scene from Paul Philippoteaux's 1884 cyclorama painting features the fierce struggle near the Copse of Trees.
Charge Black Walnut
This Black Walnut tree stands just behind the Union line near the "Bloody Angle" and the Copse of Trees.
Three old Sycamore trees stand along Baltimore Street in Gettysburg. These trees withstood the three days of fighting in and around the small Pennsylvania town.
Address Honey Locust
This grand old tree stands in the Gettysburg National Cemetery near the spot where President Abraham Lincoln issued his famous "Gettysburg Address" on November 19, 1863.
The Manassas Horsechestnut stands on sacred ground where two bloody battles of the Civil war were fought. On this ground Confederate forces routed the Union army in July, 1861 and again in August, 1862.
This grand old oak tree stood silent witness to two major Civil war battles.
of Manassas (Bull Run)
This period photograph shows wagons in front of the house used as headquarters by Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard during the first battle and by Union Gen. Irvin McDowell during the second.
Many Civil War era trees still stand on the Shiloh Battlefield. This Silver Maple overlooks a now serene field where once Union and Confederate forces fought a fierce and bloody battle.
On April 6, 1862 a Confederate army commanded by Gen. A.S. Johnston attacked Union forces under Gen. U.S. Grant camped near the Tennessee River at a log meetinghouse known as Shiloh. Although initially overrun and pushed back, Union forces counterattacked the following day and drove the Confederates from the battlefield.
Stonewall Jackson Prayer Tree
Jackson Prayer Oak
This massive oak tree stands next to an abandoned farm lane in the Shenandoah Valley near Grottoes, Va. According to local tradition Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson stopped each morning after breakfast at a nearby house to pray under this oak tree while his army was encamped nearby in June of 1862.
Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson
Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson was known for his devout beliefs and frequent prayers.
Kentucky Coffee Tree
This giant Kentucky Coffee Tree grows near the Ellwood House on the Wilderness battlefield. During the battle Gen. Warren used the house as his headquarters while Union artillery was in position on the grounds around the house. In the family cemetery nearby the amputated left arm of Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson is buried. Jackson was brought to the nearby Wilderness Tavern after his wounding on May 2, 1863 during the Battle of Chancellorsville. At 13 feet in circumference, this is thought to be the largest Kentucky Coffee Tree in Virginia.
|Tree photos courtesy of American Forests. Since 1875 American Forests has been planting and preserving trees. The Historic Tree Nursery is an innovative program for propagating direct descendant seedlings from America's historic trees. Seedlings from the trees shown on this page can be purchased online from the Historic Tree Nursery at www.historictrees.org|