May 20. Lying around here in the woods, hearing no sound but the moaning of the wind through the tree tops, is rather dull business. There is nothing in it that inspires any lofty, rapturous thought, and yet it inspires thought, and already one of Mr. Bogey’s sheep has fallen a victim to thoughts inspired by the soughing of the wind through this dark forest shutting out the day; I reckon it will not be necessary to say anything to Mr. Bogey about it, as he is a loyal man, and, as the lawyers say, the presumption is he would be more than glad to contribute a mutton in suppression of this unholy rebellion.
The Pine Forests.
The woods here abound in timber of the finest description, many of the trees attaining a height of more than 100 feet. It is seldom one is seen of more than two feet in diameter at its base, tapering but slightly and without limbs for a distance of from 60 to 80 feet. I have seen some that would square fifteen inches, 80 feet from the stump. These are the turpentine trees, and the pitch, or turpentine as it is called, is obtained by cutting a wide, deep box at the base of the tree capable of holding two or three quarts of the pitch. From each corner of the box the bark is stripped off, coming to a point about three feet above the box. This is done when the tree is first boxed. The next year about three feet more of the bark is removed, coming to a point as before. This process goes on until the tree is blazed for a distance of 20 or more feet, and can be done on the east, south and west sides of the trees. The tree will run pitch quite a number of years before it dies, and is then called lightwood, and is either split up into rails or converted into tar. The pitch that runs into the boxes is dipped out into barrels, and is called dip or virgin turpentine, while that which adheres to the tree is scraped off and is called scrape, and is less valuable than the dip. The pitch is barreled up and sold to the distillers. Tar is obtained by cutting the lightwood into lengths of about eight feet and split fine a tunnel-shaped hole is dug in the ground, with the center about three feet deep, and from the center a drain runs to a barrel or vat sunk low enough in the ground to receive the tar as it runs from the kiln. The wood is packed in this hole with the ends to the center, keeping the center lowest; when all the wood required for the kiln is piled up, the sides and top are plastered over with clay, and the fire kindled on top. The fire smouldering down through the pile, tries out the tar, which settling to the bottom, runs out into the vat, and is then barreled. A kiln will run from ten to twenty barrels according to size.