Burial trench?

JHamilton

Cadet
Joined
Mar 2, 2021
I found this on Culp’s Hill in the ravine. It runs parallel to the stream. It’s not wide enough to be a farm lane. What do you think?
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Gettysburg Guide #154

Sergeant
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 30, 2019
According to the Elliott Map of burials at Gettysburg, there were many Confederate graves along the western slope of Culp's Hill. The map is available on the Library of Congress Site at https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3824g.cw0333000/?r=0.441,0.741,0.151,0.087,0

It is hard to tell from the photos excatly where you are, but try looking at the map yourself to see if anything seems to line up.

Having said that, it could be an old roadbed of sorts. Most of the trees that were in this area during the battle died because they were so shot full of lead. Access would have been needed to remove them. The same would be true of the crews who removed the Confederate dead in the 1870's. If you move a wagon over the same ground enough times, it creates a pathway, if not an actual road. I cannot say with complete certainty that there was never any logging on Culp's Hill, but unlike Little Round Top, I do not recall anyone discussing logging in this area.
 

Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
When I was about 15 years old, I came across a similar earthwork on some undeveloped land that my family owned. The land was known to have been used in different ways at different times: A fairgrounds, a Home Guard fort location, an encampment, a farm. The small earthwork that I found consisted of a very narrow and shallow swale (smaller than the one in your photos) running along the contour of a hill and roughly parallel to a power line right of way. I had always done my camping and hiking along the ridge on the OTHER side of the hollow from this shallow trench, so it was a real discovery for me. It was not in the correct location to be a remnant of the earthen fort, and it would have preceded contour plowing by many, many decades. As has been suggested here, it was probably a remnant of a mule road or a trail. These discoveries are interesting, and we very often must be in the right location, at just the right time of day, with just the right weather conditions and foliage conditions to see them. They can go unobserved for a very long time. Then, too, a lot of folks just generally aren't very observant, so they miss features of this sort.
 

treebie2000

Corporal
Joined
Jul 19, 2018
Location
Lima, OH
It couldn't be an entrenchment guarding a crossing over the stream?
Lubliner.
If [U]JHamilton[/U] placed it on the Elliott map correctly, it probably wouldn't be an entrenchment (assuming the original map shows the correct sites of the burial trenches). The feature crosses several burial trenches shown on the map. Had there been works there I don't think they would have dug burial trenches across them. They would have simply thrown the dead into the works and covered them over. Job complete....half the work.
 

Gettysburg Guide #154

Sergeant
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 30, 2019
If [U]JHamilton[/U] placed it on the Elliott map correctly, it probably wouldn't be an entrenchment (assuming the original map shows the correct sites of the burial trenches). The feature crosses several burial trenches shown on the map. Had there been works there I don't think they would have dug burial trenches across them. They would have simply thrown the dead into the works and covered them over. Job complete....half the work.
Bear in mind that the "works" on Culp's Hill were really not trenches. They are breast works, piles of rocks and logs (actually some soldiers reported using cord wood that was found in the area). Bodies could not be thrown into the works and covered up. But I would agree that the map shows the location of the pathway to be east of the works. One theory that occurred to me (albeit unsupported by evidence at this point) is that this might be the remains of a trail used when the Confederate bodies were removed in the 1870's.
 
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