On the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg, historians call them “Witness Trees,” the dwindling number of trees that were present when the titanic 1863 battle took place there.
Last week, park officials found a new one — although fallen — with two bullets still embedded in its trunk 148 years later.
“The real witnesses to the battle . . . are still here,” John Heiser, Gettysburg National Military Park historian, said Tuesday, “even though they can’t talk to us. . . . They’re the last living witnesses to this singular event.”
Maintenance employees found the bullets in an old oak tree that had toppled on Culp’s Hill, southeast of town, the site of bitter fighting between Union and Confederate forces on July 2 and 3, 1863.
The discovery was made Aug. 4 as employees cut into the fallen oak tree, and their chain saw struck the bullets. The park said the tree fell about three or four years ago. The bullets were about 13 feet up from the roots, and the part of the tree where the projectiles were found was about 27 inches in diameter.