BULLET-STRUCK WOOD FROM BLOODY ANGLE, SPOTSYLVANIA

$450.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 1097-04

Pieces of wood containing bullets and shell fragment have always been telling relics testifying to the intensity of the fire soldiers endured on the battlefield and in some ways freeze a moment in time just as they stopped the flight of the projectile. This example was cut at Spotsylvania and bears a printed label reading, “Bullet / Shot May 12, 1864 / at Spotsylvania Court House Battle-/ field, Va.” Along a lower border line is written in pencil “bloody angle.” From the typeface used we would date it about 1890-1910. It is rectangular in form, a short plank, and the reverse flat shows an embedded Minie ball, at an angle, showing the cannelures, or grooves along its lower edge. (One edge of the wood also shows some damage that may be from another projectile as well.)

Veterans, their families, and veterans’ groups began touring the battlefields seriously around the twenty-fifth anniversary of the war and the label indicates it was likely sold to one of them, perhaps for display at a local G.A.R. post. The fighting at Spotsylvania took place over several days as Grant moved southeast from the Wilderness in May 1864. Lee blocked Grant and fought off attacks on May 8 and May 10. On May 12 Grant tried again, launching the Second Corps and the Sixth Corps against a salient in the Confederate line nicknamed the “mule shoe,” from its shape. The resulting combat was close-in, intense, and prolonged, with total losses of about 17,000 in about twenty hours of fighting. A piece of wood from the scene of that fighting might have been especially sought after. The Smithsonian preserves the bullet-riddled stump of a tree measuring 22-inches in diameter that was completely cut through by rifle fire in the same fighting.

This is a very cool relic, not only for what it says about the fighting that day, but for what it meant for the veterans in later years.  [sr]

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