Saturday Night Live: Talk About a Solid Oak Tree

I’m all verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic. [A solid oak tree] is neither [solid] nor [oak] nor [tree]. Discuss. (Source: SNL Sketch)

Talk Amongst Yourselves

Solid oak trees are profoundly amazing to me. A few months back, I took my family to the New Orleans Audubon Zoo, a place that I grew up going to over and over again. I didn’t think much of it when I was a kid, but this oak tree has been around much longer than me and will more than likely live past me.

Oak of Audubon

Aside from Monkey Hill and the spiderweb rope, this oak tree was perhaps my favorite thing to climb at the zoo. I knew each knot on it, I could climb it with ease, but little did I know how much my knowledge of this tree would expand as I aged with it.

I learned on my recent visit that this tree is about 250 years old. Furthermore, it very well could live to be over 500 years old! But, you may be wondering, what on earth does this oak tree have to do with the American Civil War? Well, check out this timeline (click on it, literally):

Oaks of Audubon Timeline

During the Civil War, the area in which this tree grew was nothing more than underdeveloped land in what is now Uptown New Orleans. It served as a staging area (Camp Lewis) for Confederate Army recruits very early on but was soon occupied by Union Army troops in 1862.

Men of the 5th Company, Washington Artillery, camped outdoors at Camp Lewis (now Audubon Park).

Source: GoNOLA.com

If you’d like to read more about these wonderful Southern Live Oaks and see some great pics of them, visit Monumental Trees.

Until next time, stay Solid as a…

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Prayer for a Safe Return

In reading About me, you’ll discover that I’m a pastor in the United Methodist Church. Every week, a group of church members at FUMC Monroe pray for me and the other pastors before we lead in worship, preaching, etc. on Sunday mornings. And, boy do we need those prayers!

One of the people who regularly prays for us is a retired colonel in the United States Air Force. Yesterday, as usual, I was reminded how families of soldiers in the American Civil War must have prayed the same type of prayer that Charlie offers up for those in service to our country.

Lord, we ask a special blessing upon our men and women in uniform. Keep them out of harm’s way until they arrive home to the families who await their safe return. (Source: Charlie Moore)

Every time I hear Charlie pray this, I think of similar sentiments I’ve previously read in Civil War soldiers’ diary entries. One Union soldier by the name of Jenkin Lloyd Jones records this in his diary on September 14, 1863:

And now we are off again, we know not where, but we know it is for war, marching, fatigues, battles and perhaps wounds and suffering, and that, while the anxious heart of an invalid mother, an aged father, sisters and brothers dear, are waiting my return. And I am comparatively alone, and the only happiness I derive is in the indulgence of hope of the realization of the good time coming. (Source: Daily Observations From the Civil War)

Jones was a Wisconsin man in the state of Mississippi when he wrote this; he certainly was a long way from being safe at home! Another Union officer by the name of Luman Harris Tenney noted a sort of blessing that someone spoke over him and his fellow comrades on September 18, 1863:

Woman said, “Noble and brave Union boys, God grant you may all return home safely, our country at peace.” (Source: Daily Observations From the Civil War)

Perhaps you’re a family member of or you know someone who is currently serving. Do them a favor, pray for them and their families. They sure do need the comfort of God, the Father, the peace of Christ Jesus, His Son, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

Until next time, may God bless you and keep you…

Story Crumbs

One of my favorite pastimes is reading about the American Civil War.  I also like thinking and writing about what I read.  It helps me to process through it, whether it’s from a book, a Confederate soldier’s diary, or a letter written by a Union soldier to someone back home.

Each small story, every new experience, and the preceding, present, or proceeding scenes of battle amaze me.  I’m getting the opportunity to peak in on a bit of history and hear firsthand how it affected certain individuals.  We’re given many snapshots of what life was like during the war.

They’re the deconstructed pieces of the American Civil War meta-narrative.  Each story is merely a part of the larger overall story that so many people have lived, contributed to, and even died for.  These stories are woven together like a tapestry, interrelated and built upon one another.

When I read about the Civil War, I think of my favorite band, the Decemberists.  They came out with an album in 2009 called “The Hazards of Love.”  I was so impressed by this record, because each individual song told a unique story that connected to the larger overall story, which was the rest of the songs on the CD.

My hope in writing this blog is to piece together different stories I read about the Civil War in order to understand its comprehensive story.  I invite you to enter into the lives of those that have gone before us and to think with me on what that must have been like for them.

I’ll post one entry per week, but I’m always sharing some of what I’m reading throughout the week on Twitter.  Check out the hashtag #civilwartweet to find out more.  Or, to feed your insatiable appetite for all things Civil War, check out one of my favorite sites: Daily Observations from the Civil War.

Teaser: Next week, I’ll be explaining how I picked Hardtack Rat as my website name.  Please check back to find out!

Until next time, keep soldiering on…