Gettysburg Woods Get a Facelift

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Date: January 5, 2012
Contact: Katie Lawhon, (717) 334-1124, ext. 3121

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Herr Woods as seen from the Lutheran Seminary building in 1880. The Katalysine Springs Hotel (destroyed by fire in 1917) stands in front of these historic woods.

(National Park Service)

A 42-acre historic woodlot on the Gettysburg battlefield is getting a facelift this month, according to officials at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Herr's woodlot in the northwest section of Gettysburg National Military Park, just west of Country Club Lane, still exists from the July 1863 battle and tree experts are now working in the woodlot to perform "health cuts." During the six week project, trees will be cut to reestablish an even balance of younger, middle aged and older trees in the historic woodlot. Felled trees will be left behind on the forest floor of the woodlot to allow them to decompose, so that nutrients are returned to the soils and to provide habitat.

In 1863 no useable timber or fuel would have been left to rot on the ground in a woodlot but this is one of many steps taken by Gettysburg National Military Park to address environmental issues as they implement battlefield rehabilitation on major battle action areas of the 6,000 acre national park.

"The woodlot now referred to as Herr Woods was actually co-owned in 1863 by Frederick Herr and Joseph Wible, whose property lines subdivided the woods that supplied lumber and fuel to land owners as well as shelter for grazing livestock," said John Heiser, historian for Gettysburg National Military Park.

"On July 1, 1863, the woods offered shelter of another kind for refugees of Brigadier General James Archer's brigade after they had been repulsed and thrown back in disorder by the Union "Iron Brigade" under General Solomon Meredith. Within an hour, North Carolinians under Brigadier James J. Pettigrew deployed in battle line in these woods and sent forward a skirmish line to contest ownership of the Harman Farm with skirmishers from Meredith's brigade. The southerners were subjected to small arms fire and the occasional artillery shelling before moving out from the woods at 1 o'clock to attack the Union troops arrayed along McPherson's Ridge east of Willoughby Run."

"Most likely the saddest use of the woods came soon after when wounded Confederates stumbled their way into the shade of the trees where they waited for ambulances to remove them from the battlefield," added Heiser.

Pennington Tree Expert Service of Orrtanna, Pa. is doing the work under contract for the National Park Service.

For more information about battlefield rehabilitation efforts at Gettysburg National Military Park go to:

Gettysburg National Military Park is a unit of the National Park Service that preserves and protects the resources associated with the Battle of Gettysburg and the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and provides an understanding of the events that occurred there within the context of American history. Information is available at

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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