This post is a follow up to the previous one that talked about what a witness tree is. In this post i’ll talk about a few witness trees located around the battlefield. The ages of most of these trees are not known exactly but based off of photographs we know they were alive during the battle. Remember you can identify a witness tree by a metal tag or old style nail that was placed about a hundred years ago by the War Department. Some trees also have remnants of lighting rod/cables that were placed around the same time to protect the trees.
These trees are the less known ones. I have not included the tree at Plum Run or Devil’s Den or the Honey Locust in the Soldiers National Cemetery.
The first trees we will talk about are located on the 1st days battlefield off of Reynolds Ave. There are three witness trees that are tagged here. Each of these trees are white oaks.
The age of these trees is not know, at least not from any basic research I have done. I suspect they used to be taller with wider reaching branches, as much of their upper portions are dead or rotten.
The large tree in the foreground of the image above is the tree that is in the best shape as far as I can tell, the branches are more less intact and appear to be relatively healthy. This area has a few other trees that are similar in size of these above (if not bigger) and are suspected to be witness trees by the folks at Gettysburg Daily. I would tend to agree but i’m not an expert on trees.
This is the area on July 1st that the Iron Brigade pushed through to fight back Confederate advances. Eventually they would fall and retreat back through town. This area was then occupied by the Confederates for the remainder of the battle.
The Trees below are also White Oak witness trees. These are located along West Confederate Ave which was the Confederate Battle Line for July 2nd and 3rd.
These trees seem to be in pretty good shape. They are easily identified by a grounding cable on one and tag on the other four. You will have to look hard for the tags as they are 100 years old and will be rusty and worn.
This next witness tree was present during the Farnsworth Charge on July 3rd 1863. This charge took place on the Southern Field and resulted in heavy casualties.
Finally we have the Gibbon Wounding Tree. According to legend Brigadier General John Gibbon was wounded near this tree on July 3, 1863 during Pickett’s Charge (according to Gettysburg Daily posts). This tree does not have any identifying tags or cables.
All of these trees would have been involved in heavy fighting and probably received shots from muskets and cannons. Most of which are probably still inside.
Lastly we have Fossils (Trace Fossils)! This is will be part of a later post about this bridge and the types of geologic features that it displays. But for now here is a teaser. The sandstone used to build this bridge was mined from a quarry a few miles east of York, PA. While these rocks did not come from Gettysburg it is representative of ancient environments that would have been present in the Birdsborro Basin in PA 200 million years ago (The Gettysburg Basin is part of the Birdsborro Basin).
The print is from anchisauripus sillimani. It was a lion sized meat eater which walked on two legs. It would have wondered around PA about 200 million years ago when the climate in the area was comparable to the Florida Everglades.
Thanks for reading! If any of you are tree experts feel free to chime in with estimated ages and other things I missed or got wrong!