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Witness Trees at Gettysburg

Discussion in 'Battle of Gettysburg' started by cw1865, May 25, 2009.

  1. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    DSC00569.JPG DSC00567.JPG DSC00570.JPG DSC00572.JPG Next time you park and wander around the monuments on Slocum Ave, check out these verified witness trees:
    Just behind the 6th corps 1st Long Island monument, and these others at the split where Williams Ave starts.
     
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  3. pamc153PA

    pamc153PA Captain Forum Host

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  4. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    DSC01072.JPG DSC01071.JPG DSC01068.JPG One of my favorite witness trees on the south side of little round top was in the middle of the 83rd Pa line and more than likely has some led in its wood. It has two massive cable scars on either side of its trunk. The tree is in the middle of the photo to the right of the pine tree. Notice one of the few remaining Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Assoc. (GBMA) metal marker signs that were installed prior to the erection of the state regimental monuments to mark the positions of the regiments during each day of the battle.
     
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  5. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    DSC01293.JPG DSC01289.JPG Just past the monument to the 25/75th Ohio along Wainwright Ave., and just west of their flank markers is the last surviving witness tree along the stone wall that the Civil War Preservation Trust acquired this past year and demolished the private home just across from it. This twin trunk white oak is over 111 inches in circumference, and has two large trunks. There was a red oak dying witness tree just above it, but was deemed a hazard and removed. This 2ft low stone wall was not much cover for the Ohioans who defended it, and that white oak although a lot smaller probably was cover for some of them. Harry Hays' Louisiana troops stormed over this wall on their was to temporarily capturing Weidrich's guns on top of the hill near where the Howard equestrian statue is located. In DSC01290.JPG a July blog on the Gettysburg daily, Garry Adelman discusses whether or not the trees that grow in the front yard of the demolished home should be removed for the return of the historic view. That is fine except they need to keep in mind that the area along the wall on both sides was partially wooded, and this tree should be protected. The flank markers are just below the tree.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017
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  6. Yough1961

    Yough1961 Cadet

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    They are called witness trees because they were alive at the time of the battle hence 'witnessed" the battle
     
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  7. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    DSC01227.JPG DSC01236.JPG DSC01235.JPG DSC01225.JPG One of the least explored places on the battlefield is right next to one of the most popular visited places, the woods above Spangler's Spring bordering the south side of the Pardee field. The hill is steep and filled with undergrowth and sticker bushes. When it was still privately owned it was grazed by domesticated animals and was similar to Reynolds grove. This small rocky hill contains a number of well marked witness trees where Stuart's Maryland brigade made began their disastrous attack through the woods and into the open Pardee field where they were repulsed with heavy losses.
     
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  8. Willoughby Run

    Willoughby Run Cadet

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    Hi Greg,

    It was a pleasure meeting you on Sunday in Archer-Land on the Emmanuel Harman property! Hope to see you again on the battlefield.

    I also have a question. The tree at the corner of the Angle at Stockton Rock has a cable in it. Are you familiar with it? I don't recall seeing the tree in old pictures of the Angle. Is it a witness tree?

    Thanks!

    Charlie
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  9. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    t4775paint.jpg SV71aAngle&PASmallField1870s262%.jpg Please send us a picture of the cable if you can. That is an awesome find. If you are referring to the only one at the angle, it is a red maple tree that we can document through the numerous photos through the years that it is at youngest from the 1880s. Cables don't necessary mean witness tree, example the poplars planted at the south wall in the national cemetery, but usually it is a good indicator of it being there. If it was there during the battle, it was a very small seedling or sapling, but nonetheless a witness tree. I have checked it as have others and the general concensus is that it is not, but perhaps photos can resolve it. The tree used to have a twin that was dying out and removed recently. Here is the earliest known photo of the copse to the right and the angle left center taken about 1876. Thanks for your input and interest and it was great seeing you and your wife at the burg.
     
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  10. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    DSC01582.JPG MISC32a19thIndMon&WilloughbysRunc1886@100%.jpg Here are the photos showing 3 witness trees that were in the thick of it during Pettigrew's attack on the I Corps in Herbst woods. The faded tree in the background is still there, across Wilhoughby run however it is dying slowly and only half the tree is still living. The other two are to the east and south of the 19th Indiana monument.
     
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  11. Willoughby Run

    Willoughby Run Cadet

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    Hi Greg,

    I will try to get a photo tomorrow. I might have used the wrong terminology, in that what I referred to as a "cable" is not braided and probably should have been referred to as a "wire."

    Those are super photos of the Angle! I had not seen them before.

    Thanks!

    Charlie
     
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  12. Willoughby Run

    Willoughby Run Cadet

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    DSC_0047.JPG DSC_0058.JPG DSC_0059.JPG DSC_0056.JPG The first photo is the tree in question looking roughly to the Northwest. The right arrow points to the location on the tree, but the wire is not visible in this picture. The knot hole is a reference point on the tree. The second photo is looking more to the West. The wire is visible at the right arrow and the knot hole again on the left. The third photo is looking more to the Northwest. The wire is visible at the arrow, but the knot hole is not seen in this photo. The last photo is looking to the Southwest and is back lit. The knot hole is visible at the left arrow and the wire is at the right arrow.

    By the way, the warm weather has made the maples bloom explosively, as you can see!
     
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  13. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    wow good catch, I never saw that before. You miss a lot just looking in the summer. If the cable dangles more than the width of the fork in the tree, then it was for grounding. If not it was attached to the damaged fork to keep the two from splitting. Looking at the 1876 image, it may be in that group of small trees in the middle as there were at one time 2 or three and it may have been a sapling at the time of the battle. Again most people even with the park service will say the trees in the copse are replantings and not the original, but this is not so as at least two are from the original growing in 1863. Again good find.
     
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  14. Willoughby Run

    Willoughby Run Cadet

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    I went back and took a closer look today. It actually is a braided cable. I was able to trace it down to the end where it parted and it is clear that it is frayed.
     
  15. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    IMG_1733paint.jpg it is definitely for the forked trunk. Next time you go out, look at the fork in the chestnut oak tree to the left of the book monument. There is an intact cable holding them in place. This tree was there for sure during the battle. See if your maple tree cable matches up.
     
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  16. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    One of the most remote but easily accessed places on the battlefield is Herr's Ridge woodlot. It is located on Country Club lane directly across from the strip of homes just west of the old golf course. You can park either in the main parking lot by the clubhouse on the north side of the road, or further south just past the row of half a dozen or so homes in a small gravel pullout. The woods starts out narrow b DSC01560.JPG DSC01553.JPG DSC01554.JPG DSC01562.JPG y the clubhouse, but gets wider and deeper as you move south and at one area the woods extend all the way up the top of Herrs ridge. This area has been a sore subject for me since the park service cut down at least 40-50 witness trees to allow open spaces for the smaller saplings to grow thus replenishing the woods with an even mix of old, middle, and new trees at the expense of some that were there during the battle. A couple of standouts are near the clubhouse section just at the curve of Country Club lane and the area is virtually clear of stickers and undergrowth. It was in these woods that Archer's brigade stretched out across the woods to begin their attack, and where Pettigrew's brigade rested and prepared for battle awaiting the signal to attack that Heth received finally from Gen. Lee. Pender's division formed also in these woods, and on day 2. Longstreet's Corps began their long march to the round tops and where they had to return to find another route once they stopped near Breams Tavern to avoid being seen by the Union signal men.
     
  17. Willoughby Run

    Willoughby Run Cadet

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    I went back today with a different lens to get close-ups to compare.

    The first photo is a close-up of the cable in the chestnut oak at the High Water Mark monument. The second photo is a close-up of the cable in the maple at the Angle. The third is a close-up of the frayed end of the cable in the maple. They look pretty much the same to me.

    You mentioned
    Can you help me to understand that? Why would they put a cable in to ground or to support trunks if the tree was not there at the time of the battle?



    DSC_0074.JPG
    DSC_0096.JPG
    DSC_0089.JPG
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  18. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    Another instance of the old military park era 1895-1933 installing support cables in a tree for both lightning suppression grounding and prevention of trunk splitting. This one is a nylissa sylvatica or tupelo black gum tree on the summit of Little Round Top near Hazlet's battery marker DSC01639.JPG DSC01638.JPG
     
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  19. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    Finally, the park service natural resource preservation dept. has got the message and deserves a thankyou. Why? One could argue that they are only doing their job correctly, but for the first time I know, have made an effort to identify and mark (with ribbons) witness trees prior to an in preperation to the controlled burn that is supposed to happen sometime next month. Although not given an offical declaration by park chief of natural resources, Zach Bolitho, if you take a stroll around Vincent's spur to the summit and then to the north side of LRT you will see most of the big trees with the ribbons. The park service still needs a lot more education and research, as they did miss a few of which I sent them pictures in a recent email, they are improving and deserve our appreciation for this effort. Here are some photos of another survey before burn they recently made to the woods around the Pardee field and Spanglers spring. Last year it was cancelled, and that is a good thing because a survey was not made and trees not identified. When Pardee field burn will occur I do not know, but sometime this year is for sure. DSC01750.JPG DSC01712.JPG DSC01699.JPG
     
  20. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    It appears that the god tree, or as I call it lady liberty tree will survive yet another year. Last summer the rotting bigger fork crashed down violently during a storm and looking at the inside of the fallen trunk it was rotting out pretty badly. Someone took a chunk out of the fallen limb for a souvenoir. The smaller limb or fork is growing lower in the trunk and appears to not be affected by the removal of its partner. If no further decay occurs it may live for some time more. So be sure to visit it and see it leaf out this year ! DSC01758.JPG DSC01759.JPG
     
  21. goberg4

    goberg4 First Sergeant

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    A spring of 2017 update on some of our beloved old and damaged witness trees that are here now but are definitely on the way out due to age, disease, or damage. I was at Gettysburg on Friday 4/21 and took some time to check some of these out. The god or lady liberty tree on Upper Culps Hill as I call it still has one good limb on its trunk that is starting to sprout leaaves. Ths is a good sign as last July/August the large trunk came thudering down during a wind / lightning storm. The artillery reserve shagbark hickory tree on Howe Ave at its bend is also dying as it only has two live branches but good ones as it is budding out and still produces hickory nuts. One that did not appear to recover is the white ash in Everreen cemetery that as recently as two springs ago in 2015 was the picture of health with hardly a dead limb. It is not budding out and appears that the last original member of the south cemetery woods has died. One of the two white oaks that have massive cable scars behind the port o potties near the intersection of Wheatfield road and Sykes Ave is still doing well, but has a decent sized dead spot at its base. Ants are starting to nest in the dead spot and this is not good as they will burrow further. Perhaps some ant killer would solve the problem, but I don't know if that would poison the tree. Lastly, and incredibly, the witness tree that had the large crack in its trunk and fell this winter across the stone wall at Pardee field on lower culps hill still has its roots intact with the ground and several small branches are sprouting leaves. So it technically is not dead yet. Enjoy these old dying trees that were large at the time of the battle, and will be gone soon. DSC01805.JPG DSC01848.JPG DSC01845.JPG DSC01850.JPG DSC01816.JPG
     

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