Dec 5


Culp's Hill witness tree

At least one witness tree from the well-known photograph of Union fortifications on Culp’s Hill is still standing. It is the tree with the red “W” on it. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Friday, November 28, 2008.

Mathew Brady was not the first photographer to record the Gettysburg Battlefield, and he certainly wasn’t the last, but he is the most famous. His Gettysburg series taken around July 15, 1863 were the first to include the Culp’s Hill area. The most famous Culp’s Hill photograph shows two of Brady’s assistants seated on some rocks near Union fortifications. The area where the photograph was taken is between the monuments to the 78th/102nd New York and the 150th New York Infantry Regiments. One of the trees in the photograph is still standing, and one fell over within the last ten years.


Mathew Brady photo of Union fortifications on Culp's Hill

Here is the Mathew Brady photo of Union fortifications on Culp’s Hill. The witness tree that we are featuring today is still standing, although it was much smaller in 1863. Again we have placed a red “W” on it. Another witness tree in this photograph fell over within the last ten years. It was also much smaller in 1863 than what remains of it today. We have placed a blue “W” on it. Another witness tree possibility we have placed a yellow “W.” This photograph was taken circa July 15, 1863.


Slocum Avenue

To get to the Culp’s Hill Witness Tree, drive on Slocum Avenue towards the monument to the 78th/102nd New York Infantry Regiments. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Friday, November 28, 2008.


78th and 102nd New York regiment monument

Here is the monument to the 78th and 102nd New York regiments. The witness tree that is still standing, and which was located near Brady’s assistants, is in the background with a red “W.” This view was taken facing north at approximately 9:00 AM on Friday, November 28, 2008.


Large rock on which one of Brady’s assistants was reclining in 1863

To find where the 1863 photo was taken, one must first locate the large rock on which one of Brady’s assistants was reclining in 1863. This view was taken facing south at approximately 3:00 PM on Friday, November 28, 2008.


Witness tree on Culp's Hill

Don’t confuse the rock formations on the right with the rock formations in the left foreground of this photograph (as we have previously done). This view was taken facing north at approximately 4:00 PM on Wednesday, November 18, 1863.


Rocks next to the witness tree

There were actually two rocks that Brady’s assistants were sitting on/reclining on in 1863. The monument to the 150th New York Infantry Regiment is in the background. This view was taken facing north at approximately 3:00 PM on Friday, November 28, 2008.


Other side of rocks

The rock on the right is one one on which the Brady assistant in the white “duster” was sitting/reclining in the 1863 photo. This view was taken facing east at approximately 3:00 PM on Friday, November 28, 2008.


Witness tree and uprooted witness tree

Another witness tree in the 1863 photo has been uprooted in the last ten years. It is the tree upon which we have placed the blue “W.” This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Friday, November 28, 2008.


Fallen witness tree

Here is a view up the roots of the witness tree that has fallen. The monument to the 78th and 102nd New York Infantry Regiments is in the right background. This view was taken facing south at approximately 3:00 PM on Friday, November 28, 2008.


Decomposing witness tree

The National Park Service is allowing this tree to decompose naturally, and most of its wood remains on the ground, although the Park Service has cut it into large pieces. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 3:00 PM on Friday, November 28, 2008.


Possible witness tree

There may be another witness tree in the 1863 photo that is still standing today. We have marked it with a yellow “W.” This view was taken facing south at approximately 3:00 PM on Friday, November 28, 2008.


South view of possible witness tree

Here is a view from the south of the possible witness tree which we have marked with a yellow “W.” This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 9:00 AM on Friday, November 28, 2008.

See our previous posts on Gettysburg Witness Trees:

Pender Witness Tree Area on April 30, 2008,
Gibbon Witness Tree on May 27, 2008,
Honey Locust Tree Damage on August 10, 2008,
Sickles Witness Fence Damage on August 12, 2008,
McPherson Woods Witness Trees on August 16, 2008,
Arkansas Monument Witness Tree on August 27, 2008.
Farnsworth Charge Witness Tree on September 8, 2008.
Did the National Park Service Cut Down a Witness Tree? on October 19, 2008,
Sickles’ Witness Tree on November 10, 2008.
Abraham Lincoln Baltimore Street Witness Tree on November 19, 2008.
Henry Heth Wounding Tree Stump on November 28, 2008.
Culp’s Hill Witness Tree: Split by an Artillery Shell? on November 30, 2008.


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