Gettysburg tree yields Civil War bullets

One appears to be a Minie ball

Charge of the 2nd Maryland Infantry, CSA into the “slaughterpen” at Culp’s Hill, Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863. So severe were the casualties among the Marylanders that General Steuart is said to have broken down and wept, wringing his hands and crying “my poor boys”.
GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Civil War buffs looking to find new items for their collections are likely jealous of some folks in Gettysburg who had them fall right into their path.

Workers cutting up a fallen tree at Gettysburg National Military Park came across some Civil War artifacts when their chain saw struck bullets buried in the tree trunk.

The bullets were discovered last week while a crew was cutting through the oak tree on Culp’s Hill, the site of intense fighting on July 2-3, 1863, Park Superintendent Bob Kirby said Aug. 9.

During the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1–3, 1863, Culp’s Hill was a critical part of the Union army defensive line, the right flank, or “barbed” portion of what is described as the “fish-hook” line. Holding the hill was by itself unimportant because its heavily wooded sides made it unsuitable for artillery placement, but its loss would have been catastrophic to the Union army. It dominated Cemetery Hill and the Baltimore Pike, the latter being critical for keeping the Union army supplied and for blocking any Confederate advance on Baltimore or Washington, D.C.

It was common to find bullets there 100 years ago, but such discoveries are a rarity these days, Kirby said.

Two sections of the tree’s trunk were removed and will be treated to clean out insects and mold before they will be added to the park’s museum collection, officials said.

The tree was estimated to have been about a century old at the time of the battle, meaning it was about 250 years old when it fell recently, park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon said.

She said there are at least two visible bullets. One appears to be a Minie ball, a type of ammunition used extensively during the Civil War.

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