N.p. 1863. Dark carved wood, 11 ½ x 11 ½ x 1 inches, with bone border and star inlays in corners, an inlaid tree with carved names of Civil War battles as leaves. Item #List308
During the Civil War, wounded or captured soldiers would often pass their time waiting to return to duty carving relics. The practice was fairly common, with pipes being the most commonly carved object, and the quality of the relics varied wildly depending on the talent of the soldier. A.H. Barber, from Wisconsin, was wounded at Antietam and most likely carved this memorial piece while recovering from his wounds. Each leaf notes a different battle during the 1861-1862 campaigns. Barber enlisted in Company C of the 2nd Wisconsin in 1861, and was discharged in 1863 following wounds suffered at Antietam. The trunk reads Battles for the Union and the four branches read Dept. of the South, Army of Virginia & of the Potomac, and Dept. of the West, with twenty-nine leaves naming battles.
The resultant plaque is exceptional in timeliness, craftsmanship and overall aesthetic beauty. Barber’s metaphorically growing tree is particularly timely for the Union cause, as the 1863 failure of the Maryland Campaign would serve as inspiration to Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Wonderfully preserved in excellent condition with no notable flaws. From the collection of Norm Flaydernman, the noted Americana dealer, who personally collected carved Civil War pipes and had been planning to write a book on the subject at the time of his death.