Bullets in trees, and a monument ROAD TRIP

Hello from a busy battlefield!  We are in the last week of our full slate of summer programs, folks.  Beginning this Sunday, August 14, the park’s outstanding interpretive staff will continue to offer free guided walks, talks, and tours, but on a reduced schedule.  Also, starting Sunday, the park’s fall newspaper will be available at the Museum and Visitor Center with daily program listings and other important information.

A minie ball rests inside this slice of an oak tree

Gettysburg National Military Park made the national news once again this week with the discovery of Civil War bullets in a fallen oak tree on Culp’s Hill.  We had TV crews, newspapers, and bloggers reporting on the story and even made it onto the NBC Nightly News and the Washington Post.  A couple small details didn’t make it into some of the stories.  The park’s natural resource specialist believes the tree was 100 years old when the bullets hit it in 1863.  Because it was growing near the top of a dry, rocky slope it grew slowly, and was only about 8 to 10 inches in diameter when it was a century old.  When the tree fell, it was older than the United States of America!

Bret Robinson, left, and Randy Krichten count tree rings to estimate the age of the tree.

The tree may have twisted and rolled when it fell so we may never know which side of the tree the bullets hit:  the downhill or the uphill side.  That clue might have helped us know whether they came from Union guns or Confederate.  More information is available at www.nps.gov/gett under NEWS.

Finally we have GOOD NEWS about a vandalized Gettysburg monument.  We have a crew of National Park Service employees in Manchester, New Hampshire, right now making a rubber mold of the head and the top of the ramrod on the artilleryman featured on their Civil War monument.  This bronze artilleryman was created by the same sculptor who did the artilleryman on the 4th New York monument (Smith’s Battery).  In fact our monument preservation specialists believe the two bronze artillerymen were made from the very same mold.

The bronze artilleryman on the Manchester, NH, Civil War monument.

This highly unusual monument preservation ROAD TRIP includes a very skilled team:  Lucas Flickinger, the current supervisor of the monument preservation branch; Joe Catchings, a long-time member of the Gettysburg NMP monument preservation team; and Brian Griffin, a new summer employee on the monument preservation crew who is a sculptor and is taking the lead for this trip.  The team also includes Vic Gavin, returning briefly from retirement (Vic was Gettysburg’s supervisor of the monument preservation branch); and Dennis Montagna, a monument preservation specialist from the National Park Service’s northeast regional office.

The artilleryman shortly after being taken off the field due to vandalism.

The rubber mold will be used by the foundry to make the wax, which we will use to pour bronze for a new head.  We hope to make progress on this project through the rest of this year.  Brian Griffin is also going to begin sculpting a new arm for the 11th Massachusetts.  Both Smith’s Battery and the 11th Massachusetts have been missing key features since they were vandalized in February 2006.  Despite a $30,000 reward for information, no arrests or convictions for the infamous night of vandalism at Gettysburg have yet been made.  If you know something, please get in touch with Gettysburg National Military Park law enforcement.

Katie Lawhon, Management Assistant, 8/10/11

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3 Responses to Bullets in trees, and a monument ROAD TRIP

  1. keith buckley says:

    its good to hear and see the restoration of the vandalised artilleryman.it would be such a shame if it was not repaired.good on you.here in the uk we know all about the troubles you have with vandalism keep the good work up keith

  2. sue says:

    it is extremely disturbing that anyone would even concieve of,and follow thru with,vandalizing such consecrated monuments.what those men on both sides did for us was for ALL of us.im deeply troubled by this.my heart hurts.i pray this never happens again anywhere.these fools probably know nothing of honor and sacrifice.

  3. Darrel Trout says:

    I am glad to read the the Park Service is continuing to protect and preserve the sacred land at the Gettysburg Battle Field. My sincere thanks is given to each and every member of the Park Service, being full time or seasonal personnel. We must never forget what happened there and each American must do what we can to preserve that memory.

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