Spotsylvania Stump

Physical Description
Wooden tree stump.
Specific History
Until May 12, 1864, this shattered stump was a large oak tree in a rolling meadow just outside Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia. That morning, 1,200 entrenched Confederates, the front line of General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, awaited the assault of 5,000 Union troops from the Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Twenty hours later, the once-peaceful meadow had acquired a new name, the Bloody Angle. The same fury of rifle bullets that cut down 2,000 combatants tore away all but twenty-two inches of the tree's trunk. Several of the conical minie balls (bullets) are still deeply embedded in the wood. Unusual objects of war, such as this tree stump, come to symbolize the horror and heroism of a great battle. Originally presented to the U.S. Army's Ordnance Museum by Brevet Major General Nelson A. Miles, the stump was transferred to the Smithsonian in 1888.
Object Name
tree trunk
associated date
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 60 in x 18 in x 18 in; 152.4 cm x 45.72 cm x 45.72 cm
United States: Virginia, Spotsylvania
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
National Treasures exhibit
Civil War
Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, 1864
Civil War and Reconstruction
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Military
National Treasures exhibit
"The Price of Freedom: Americans at War"
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Related Publication
Kendrick, Kathleen M. and Peter C. Liebhold. Smithsonian Treasures of American History
Publication title
Treasures of American History online exhibition
Publication author
National Museum of American History
Publication URL

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