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The Sentinels of Gettysburg: Always on Guard

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Gettysburg Sentinels hopes to keep the history of Gettysburg alive through our one-of-kind handmade wooden products. However, it is important to never forget our service men and women who have stood or continue to stand watch to protect the United States of America. In the “Sentinels” section of the blog, we aim to honor those men who watched skirmishes unfold and strategized accordingly on the battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 160 years ago.

The Battle of Gettysburg

What are Sentinels?: Watching the Watchmen

A sentinel stands watch or guard over something. While the nature of our company would lead us to showcase soldiers who served during the Civil War, sentinels certainly weren’t exclusive just to the War Between the States. In fact, examples of sentinels can be found in the military and the media.

For example, during the American Revolution, sentinels watched for enemy movements and protected the Continental Army’s camps from British army attacks. Similarly, sentinels were posted at military bases during World War II to maintain security.

marvel comics, sentinels

On a lighter note, sentinels aren’t just limited to those in the military. In fact, IPs like Marvel’s assembled Avengers or DC’s Justice League showcase superheroes standing guard against the forces of evil.

Duties and Routines of a Sentinel

The sentinel’s role during the time of the Civil War is defined in the Kautz’s Customs of the Service for the Officers of the Army. Sentinels were expected to follow these expectations to the letter; in fact, they were tasked with maintaining their positions at all costs, which even included their very lives. Kautz’s book details duties, as well as requirements when walking the post, saluting, and challenging and countersigning.

  • Duties: Sentinels are expected to remain at their posts at all times unless relieved by an officer or commanding officer. Sentinels should be posted in such a way that they are close enough to one another to maintain communication.

  • Walking the Post: Sentinels maintain their posts for a period of two hours at a time. They must carry their rifle at all times, and no one - including an officer - may obstruct the sentinel from walking his post.

  • Saluting: There are specific rules detailing when a sentinel is to “present arms” to officers or at the passing of the colors. Directions on how and where to salute are also enumerated.

  • Challenges and Countersigns: When visibility is limited, sentinels will challenge anyone who approaches their post. No one is permitted closer to the sentinel without the appropriate countersign.

History in Your Hands

It’s important to recognize that, just as soldiers give their time, energy, and maybe even life and limb for the protection of their country, sentinels stand guard to protect their fellow soldiers. Understanding how the role these men and women play and have played in our history demonstrate the necessity of how performing one’s duty benefits the entire whole.

Owning one of our handmade wooden pieces can help serve as a tangible reminder that these sentinel trees watched over sentinels in the military.


Take a moment to look at our unique hand-crafted 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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