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  • South Cavalry Field Walntut Witness Tree Shadow Box
  • South Cavalry Field Walntut Witness Tree Shadow Box
SKU: WT-186

South Cavalry Field Walntut Witness Tree Shadow Box

$85.00Price

On the morning of July 3, 1863, two Union Cavalry Corps were ordered to the left flank of the Union Army southwest of Big Round Top to guard against any possible counterattacks following the anticipated attacks on the Union center. Brig. Gen. Wesley Merritt's Reserve Brigade of Buford's division moved north from Emmitsburg to join Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick's division that, at the time, had only the brigade of Brig. Gen. Elon J. Farnsworth.

Farnsworth arrived at approximately 1 p.m., about the time the massive Confederate artillery barrage started in preparation for Pickett's Charge, and his 1,925 troops took up a position in a line south of the George Bushman farm. Joined by Kilpatrick, they awaited Merritt's brigade, which arrived at about 3 p.m. and took up a position straddling the Emmitsburg Road to Farnsworth's left. By this time, the infantry portion of Pickett's Charge had begun, and Kilpatrick was eager to get his men into the fight.

The opposing Confederate line was composed of well-entrenched infantry troops. Four brigades had occupied the area from Round Top, through Devil's Den and back to the Emmitsburg Road since the battle on July 2.

Kilpatrick had little experience in commanding cavalry, and he demonstrated that by attacking the fortified infantry positions in a piecemeal fashion. West of the road Merritt went in first, with his cavalrymen fighting dismounted. A second attack also failed miserably. Farnsworth was to follow, but he was astonished to hear Kilpatrick's order for a mounted cavalry charge. The Confederate defenders were positioned behind a stone fence with wooden fence rails piled high above it—too high for horses to jump. This would require the attackers to dismount under fire and dismantle the fence. The terrain leading to it was broken, undulating ground, with large boulders, fences and woodlots, making it unsuitable for a cavalry charge.

Accounts differ as to the details of the argument between Farnsworth and Kilpatrick, but it is generally believed that Kilpatrick dared or shamed Farnsworth into making the charge the latter knew would be suicidal. Farnsworth allegedly said, "General, if you order the charge I will lead it, but you must take the awful responsibility."[17]

Farnsworth ordered the attack in three waves. They charged in great confusion after coming under heavy fire, but they were able to breach the wall. Hand-to-hand fighting with sabers, rifles and even rocks ensued, but the attack was forced back. Of the 400 Federal cavalrymen in the attack, there were 98 casualties. The second wave was also turned back under heavy rifle fire, with 20 casualties.[18]

The final cavalry charge consisted of about 400 officers and men. It too was repulsed, but the survivors, led by Farnsworth, circled back toward Big Round Top, where they met a line of infantry fire across their front. Farnsworth's party dwindled to only 10 troopers as they weaved back and forth, trying to avoid the murderous fire. Farnsworth fell from his horse, struck in the chest, abdomen and leg by five bullets. He died where he fell.

Kilpatrick's ill-considered and poorly executed cavalry charges are remembered as a low point in the history of the U.S. cavalry and marked the final significant hostilities at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Gettysburg Sentinels crafts products from wood reclaimed from a walnut Witness Tree that once stood along the Emmitsburg Road south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The tree witnessed multiple unsuccessful Union cavalry engagements against fortified Confederate infantry on the afternoon of July 3, 1863.

  • Gettysburg Sentinels crafts products from wood reclaimed from a walnut Witness Tree that once stood along the Emmitsburg Road south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The tree witnessed multiple unsuccessful Union cavalry engagements against fortified Confederate infantry on the afternoon of July 3, 1863.

    Our shadowboxes includes imagery related to activities that occurred near the tree.  It also includes an engraved sample of the wood, an uncirculated 2011 Gettysburg Commerative US Quarter and an authentic civil war bullet.  Overal size is 8.75" x 8.75" x 2".

    All of our products include documentation related to the tree.

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