The Story of Gettysburg Sentinels: Chapter 1
Updated: Mar 8
Gettysburg Sentinels is a small business that specializes in creating handcrafted wooden goods. What makes us stand out is the type of wood used: Legally acquired trees from the Gettysburg National Military Park! With a mission to honor and preserve such an important part of American history, read on to learn more about our company and the men - Lieutenant Colonel Bill Hewitt and George Allen - behind these one-of-a-kind wooden works of art.
The Battle of Gettysburg: What is It?
The Battle of Gettysburg is considered to be the high water mark of the Confederacy: It marks the the turning point of Confederate fortune during the War Between the States, which is more commonly known as the American Civil War.
The Civil War was fought between the years of 1861 and 1865. It was a result of several Southern states seceding - or leaving - the United States to create the Confederate States of America. Confederate forces under the command of Robert E. Lee did quite well militarily during the first two years of the war, but Lee’s decision to move the fighting to the North was a boon for the Union Army: The victory helped shore up popular opinion in the North for the necessity of continued fighting. It also led to President Lincoln delivering one of the most important speeches in American history: The Gettysburg Address.
The Facts: Three Days of Bullets
General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia moves his troops into the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He is met with Union forces under the command of General John Reynolds.
After the death of General Reynolds in the fighting, Union soldiers retreat to Cemetery Hill, which they hold for the remainder of the battle.
Confederate forces attach the Union forces’ left flank, but are ultimately prevented from moving forward.
A devastating frontal assault on Cemetery Hill is led by General George Pickett and becomes known as Pickett’s Charge.
Lee orders his troops to fall back and the Confederate army begins its retreat back to Virginia.
The Wood: Where Does it Come From?
The wood we use to create our items come from both Gettysburg ‘witness trees’ and ‘battlefield trees’. There’s a specific difference between the two: Witness trees literally witnessed history; they stood on the battlefield for at least the last 160 years. In contrast, battlefield trees were not alive during the time of fighting, but grew at the national park years later.
Due to things like disease and death, these trees or parts of the trees are removed from the Gettysburg National Military Park. The tree removal services contracted by the national park ultimately decide the fate of the removed trees, meaning that they most likely would be destroyed! However, Gettysburg Sentinels honors the memory of those who fought at Gettysburg by using wood from these trees to create the items sold in our shop.
Lieutenant James Hewitt: Meet the Founder
Gettysburg Sentinels was founded in 2007 by Lieutenant Colonel William Hewitt. Hewitt served in the United States Army for 31 years in intelligence, armor, and cavalry. He also taught at the U.S. Army Command, conducted seminars, and wrote articles and manuals. In between all of this time serving his country, Hewitt also pursued woodworking as a hobby.
Click here to read Chapter 2 of The Story of Gettysburg Sentinels.
History in Your Hands
Our company was started by answering a question: What happens to trees that are removed from the Gettysburg National Military Park? The answer led to the creation of a company that takes pride in working with wood that might have stood sentinel over the Gettysburg battlefield. From paper weights and bottle stoppers to engraved plaques and executive pens, you can be confident that any object that you purchase from our shop will be the product of hours of time and dedication. With 40 years of woodworking experience and the desire to tell the story of Gettysburg in a unique way, each item crafted has its own story to tell.
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!