Civil War Captain & Plant Collector

Flower Links The War of Northern Aggression, Natural History and “The Blood of Heroes.”

John Cornelius McMullen, First Wisconsin Regiment.

On August 14, 1864, in a Union Army camp in Georgia, a captain from Wisconsin plucked a plant, pressed it onto a sheet of paper, wrote a letter describing the plant as “certainly the most interesting specimen I ever saw,” and sent it with the plant to a scientist he called “Friend” in Wisconsin.


From the USDA, NRCS PLANTS Data Base:

I checked out PLANTS to read about Cassia obtunifolia, Sicklepod, which is a native of the northeast, with the emphasis of its range as occurring in North and South Carolina.  The plant is generally not found in Maryland.  This native has seeds that are poisonous if ingested.  As of November 2014, PLANTS is trying out a new, more modern range mapping system.  The new system allows users to scroll side to side and zoom in and out.  At higher scale zoom levels users can see county-level data.  The mapping allowed me to note that the plant has only been documented in one eastern shore county in Maryland.  The Maryland Biodiversity Project has no records for Cassia obtunifolia.