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98 Flora • As a ruse to deceive an opposing force of the true strength or even presence of an army, logs were sometimes disguised as cannons and called “Quaker guns.” Private Robert A. Moore, 17th Mississippi Regiment, near Leesburg, Virginia, on Dec. 29, 1861: “Some of the boys have been over near the battleground discovered two gum logs mounted on our breastworks as cannon .”8 • However, in at least one instance sweetgum logs were actually used as barrels of functioning cannons. The “Sweet Gum Battery” comprised six 6-pounders and one 12-pounder and was manned by the 33rd Missouri Volunteers at Spanish Fort, Alabama, in early 1865. A description cites: “They were made of sweet gum wood, and banded at the muzzle and breech with a band of iron about one inch wide and one-quarter of an inch thick. The gun and carriage were separate, the carriage being a block of wood with a socket for the breech of the gun, giving the gun an elevation of about 45 degrees. The ordinary 6 and 12-pound shells were used, the surface being coated with turpentine to secure ignition of the fuse . . . . The men became so expert as to be able to burst a shell within the size of an army blanket at 500 to 600 yards distance.”9 • Sweet Gum Stable was a stop of the Underground Railroad located at the corner of Main and West Seventh Streets in New Albany, Indiana. Fugitive slaves were harbored there after crossing the Ohio River on their way to freedom.10 Syca m o r e Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), often called “plane tree” during the Civil War era, is one of the largest hardwoods in eastern North America, growing to heights of 170 feet with a diameter of ten feet. It is easily recognized by its large lobed leaves and light-colored bark that flakes off in long thin sheets. Sycamore grows best in rich, moist, riparian soils where the hollows in older trees provide homes for wood ducks, owls, and squirrels. During the Civil War sections of sycamore logs were a favored material for butcher   Walnut, Hickory, and Pecan 99 blocks. The wood was also used for ox yokes, crates, tobacco boxes, crossties , and cooperage.1 In the South, the globe-shaped fruits, like those of sweetgum, were used for lighting when soaked in oil. Referring to a Catholic nun working at a Confederate hospital in Shelby Springs, Alabama, a writer penned, “she made her profession on a makeshift altar on a cold January morning in 1863 with sycamore balls burning in lard oil for lights instead of candles.”2 Private Theodore F. Upson, 100th Indiana Infantry Volunteers, on Nov. 24, 1864, after the battle of Griswoldville, Georgia: “We had no coffins, but I could not bear to think of putting my old friend into his grave in that way. I remembered that at a house a short distance away I had seen a gum or hollow sycamore log of about the right length and size. We got it, split it in halves, put one in the grave dug in the sandy soil, put his lifeless body in it, covered it with the other half, filled up the grave and by the light of a fire we had built with the rails, marked with a peice of lumber pencil his name, Company, and Regiment.”3 Private Wilbur Fisk, 2nd Vermont Volunteers, near Warrenton, Virginia , in a letter to his hometown newspaper on Aug. 13, 1863: “We had been obliged to go nearly three miles to get this one luxury [foraged milk], to cross two streams, one on loose flood wood and the other on the trunk of a huge sycamore tree, where the torrent dashed and foamed as if it would delight to engulf us for ever milk and all.”4 Rev. Francis Springer, chaplain, 10th Illinois Cavalry, in northwestern Arkansas, on Aug. 16, 1863: “we camp at the Big Spring on Flint Creek. . . . This fine large spring of clean cool water with the surrounding stand of oaks, sycamore, & persimmons, is truly grateful to weary soldiers.”5 Wa l n u t, H i c ko ry, a n d P e ca n Walnuts (Juglans spp.), hickories (Carya spp.), and pecans (Carya spp.) are deciduous trees in the same taxonomic family. Dense, hard wood and edible nuts are characteristics of most species. Two types of walnut (black walnut, J. nigra, and butternut, J. cinerea) and about twenty species of...


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