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The Location of Witness Trees

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Imagine marching across a field in the July heat. You’re tired and exhausted. You hear the sounds of cannon fire in the distance. There's no rest in sight. That’s because the boulders and rocks that are prevalent in the area could be hiding enemy troops. Since the soil is so thin and bedrock is so close to the surface, you’re unable to dig to create fortifications. However, since the Union troops do have the high ground, you do have the advantage of being able to attack your enemies from above. That was the scenario troops faced on the second day of fighting at Devil’s Den and the Slaughter Pen. Items like the South Confederate Field Oak Battlefield Tree Magnifying Glass can be purchased with wood from a tree harvested in the area of South Confederate Field.

Spangler’s Spring: The Local Watering Hole

A Spangler's Spring Witness Tree Executive Pen. Currently on sale!
One of our Spangler's Spring Witness Tree Pens.

Now picture yourself back on the battlefield. The sun continues to beat down on you and your fellow comrades. Sweat pours down your face and neck in rivulets. Your horse, if you're part of the cavalry, is perspiring profusely. He’ll be no good to you in such a state. Luckily, you’re near Spangler’s Spring, a well-known watering hole that's been used by locals for years. Both Union and Confederate soldiers used this area to fill up their canteens and refresh their horses with clean water. While a legend exists that soldiers made a temporary truce when using the spring, there is no documentation that supports this. However, this legend helped promote an idea of reconciliation between the two sides. Knowing how the spring was used and the legend that surrounds it makes owning items like a Spangler’s Spring Witness Tree Executive Pen that much more meaningful.

Camp Letterman: A Modern Military Hospital

camp letterman
Camp Letterman

With a total of 51,000 dead, wounded, or captured, medical treatment was critical for those who fought in the three-day battle at Gettysburg. Camp Letterman, named after Dr. Jonathan Letterman, was the Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac - a Union Army hospital camp that was created after the fighting. All manner of injuries, illnesses, and infections were treated at this relatively modern military hospital over a period of four months until it was ultimately shut down in November of the same year. While little remains to indicate the location of the camp, wood from a witness tree that still stands today overlooks what was Camp Letterman has been used in the creation of key fobs, bottle stoppers, and cigar cases.

An Apt Name for a Disastrous Charge

A two mile long ridge located south of Gettysburg, Cemetery Ridge was used by the Union army as a defensive position. Since the ridge was flat, it was an ideal spot to survey the fields below. It was at this area where Union soldiers created fortifications like earthworks to defend against Confederate attacks. Cemetery Ridge was also the location of the disastrous Pickett’s Charge - the frontal assault led by Confederate General George Pickett against the Union’s defensive position on the third day of fighting. Wood from battlefield trees in this area have been used by Gettysburg Sentinels to create executive pens and magnifying glasses.

Pitckett's charge, walnut tree, executive pen, pen
Pickett's Charge Walnut Tree Pen

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!

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