The Location of Battlefield Trees
Updated: Mar 8
Among the many things taught in K-12, one thing that's consistently brought up when kids learn about social studies is how geography plays a role in how humans interact with their environment. For example, if you take a look at American history when America was first being colonized by English settlers in the 18th century, large farms were not found in New England because the soil was rocky and the climate was cold.
The Middle Colonies were nicknamed the “Breadbasket Colonies” due to the climate and soil being conducive for farming grains. And while we can find plenty more examples of how the environment has affected human history across the world, we can also find plenty of examples in the 19th century.
More specifically, if we take a look at the Battle of Gettysburg, it’s apparent that the environment in which the North and South clashed played a significant part of the three-day battle’s outcome.
The Turning Point of the Civil War
The Battle of Gettysburg is considered by many historians to be the turning point of the Civil War. The Civil War, which was fought between the years of 1861 and 1865, was a result of several Southern states seceding the United States of America in order to create the Confederate States of America. For two years, the Army of Northern Virginia, the name of the Confederate Army that fought in the Eastern Theater of the war, and the Army of the Potomac, the Union’s name for their Eastern Theater army, clashed in Southern states like Virginia.
While Robert E Lee, the head of the Confederate Army, and his men won several battles between 1861 and 1863, he planned to invade the North in order to sway public opinion in the North against continued combat. The result of this was Lee and General George Meade and their combined 175,000 men meeting on the field in the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. After three days of fighting, a total of 51,000 men had been killed, wounded, or were missing in action.
The Influence of the Battle of Gettysburg
When Lee’s army was forced to retreat from the town, his hopes of changing minds about the war in the North was squandered. History has determined that the Battle of Gettysburg not only caused Northern public opinion to swing in favor of the Union’s campaign, but the battle became the turning point of the American Civil War.
The decisions made by those fighting on the battlefield might have ultimately decided the battle’s outcome, but those decisions were heavily influenced by the very environment on which these men fought. Keep reading to learn a bit more about the locations of the trees whose wood is used in the creation of our Gettysburg Sentinels products.
The Difference Between Battlefield Trees and Witness Trees
Since Gettysburg Sentinels uses both witness trees and battlefield trees to create our wooden products, it’s important to note the distinct difference between them.
Witness trees are witnesses to history. They stood in their current locations for at least the last 160 years. While it is true that it’s difficult to truly determine the actual number of Witness trees in existence, examples like the Sickles Oak and Camp Letterman’s Oak can still be visited at the Gettysburg National Military Park today.
Battlefield trees were not alive during the Battle of Gettysburg, but grew on the battlefield years later.
Despite these differences, it’s hard to imagine discarding something that was an actual witness to history, or at the very least was in the same location as a historical event. However, due to forces of nature, death, or the necessity of preservation, these trees would be destroyed after their removal from the national park. Instead, Gettysburg Sentinels honors the importance of the events and people who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg by using wood from these trees to create handcrafted wooden products. Understanding the background behind the materials used to create these items will help keep the memories of this historic battle alive.
Click here to explore the locations of witness trees. Premiers 2/2!
History in Your Hands
Being able to see and touch history makes the stories of those who have been gone for over a century stay fresh in the minds of those living today. Items made from battlefield and witness trees serve as a reminder that people, who had their own families, hopes, and dreams, were willing to take up arms against one another in support of ideas and the ultimate preservation of the country we enjoy today. As their service had consequences that still resonate today, the wood continues to tell the story of their sacrifices.
Take a look at our unique hand-crafted wooden items made from the wood of the Battle of Gettysburg. Each piece is made with care and attention to detail and is a perfect addition to any history enthusiast's collection. They also make wonderful gifts!
Order now and own a piece of history!