Gettysburg Daily

This prominent witness tree on Culp’s Hill, a white oak, was damaged in December.This image was taken facing at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.

The witness tree is labeled with a blue star. It appears in this photograph by William Tipton about thirty years after the battle. Tipton called the surrounding ground a “meadow” in his caption. Other trees on Culp’s Hill that suffered damage from the battle died and resulted in some cleared areas by the 1890s when this photo was taken.This image was taken facing east by William Tipton circa the 1890s.

To get to this witness tree, drive along Slocum Avenue. It’s just off the roadway, to the left of the two flank markers visible in this view.This image was taken facing south at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.

If you drive past the monument to the 78th/102nd New York Infantry Regiments you have gone too far.This image was taken facing north at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.

The tree is located beyond the reconstructed earthworks and slightly down the slope of the hill. The marker to the 147th New York Infantry is in the foreground. This image was taken facing east at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.

We visited this witness tree in 2008 when it was still intact. About 25 feet up the tree, two trunks branch out to give the tree a “Y” shape.This view was taken facing east at approximately 3:30 PM on Friday, November 28, 2008.

The left portion of the “Y” has come down. There is a bit of a path here from the number of people who have visited the tree over the years.This image was taken facing east at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.
This is a distinctive witness tree due to a large split that runs up its trunk from the base. It’s been claimed that the tree suffered this damage from an artillery shell during the battle.This image was taken facing east at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.

The section that came down was significant in size compared to what’s now left of the tree. Like other trees that fall along the slopes of Culp’s Hill, it will likely be left here to decompose.This image was taken facing northeast at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.
By 1917, the rotted cavity caused by the split in the trunk was a problem for the tree’s health.Judging by the undergrowth, this photo was likely taken during the summer. This image was taken facing east by William Tipon in 1917.
This view, also from 1917, shows the War Department’s solution. The rotted cavity was cleaned and the split was filled from bottom to top with concrete. This image was taken facing east by William Tipon in 1917.
The tree grew around the concrete over the years as it increased in size. Compare the base of the trunk in this photo to the previous 1917 view.This image was taken facing east at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.

Much of the concrete is still visible, including pieces higher up the trunk that have flaked off.This image was taken facing east at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.

It looks like before the concrete was placed, a protective screen was put in the cavity between the concrete and the tree. Bits of this screen can be seen attached to the concrete higher up the trunk.This image was taken facing east at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.

Here’s a view of the downed/broken section of the tree.This image was taken facing east at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.

Besides the battle damage this white oak sustained…This image was taken at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.

…It’s also been hit by lightning at least once near the base.Slocum Avenue is in the right background. This image was taken facing west at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.

White oaks can live to be 200 to 300 years old. For now, this particular witness tree remains standing. Our thanks to LBG Rich Kohr for letting us know about the damage.This image was taken facing east at approximately 2:30 PM on Monday, February 20, 2017.