University of Wisconsin–Madison

Historical 1864 Civil War Specimen Discovered at WIS

Herbarium curators have discovered a remarkable 150 year old plant specimen while preparing for a public open house to celebrate the life of our founder, Increase Lapham.  A handwritten note to Lapham attached to the specimen of Cassia obtusifolia (‘wild sensitive plant’) indicates that it was collected on the battlefield by Wisconsin native Captain John Cornelius McMullen in Georgia, just two weeks before the fall of Atlanta by Union Army forces.  In the note, the soldier states:

“while I write, shot and shells are constantly passing over us.  It may be some days before Atlanta falls but in the end it must yield, for the best army in the world are thundering at its gate.  This flower was moistened by the blood of heroes, for Wisconsin men have died where it was plucked.”

Read the full story of this touching piece of American history at: http://www.news.wisc.edu/23312

or the story as published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Newspaper (Nov 30, 2014) at: http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/wisconsin-herbarium-uncovers-plant-from-field-of-civil-war-battle-b99397573z1-284227521.html?ipad=y

Listen to a live interview with Dr. Cameron about the specimen recorded Dec 10, 2014 on WI Public Radio.