1st Maryland Potomac Home Brigade Tree

What This Tree Witnessed

The 1st Maryland Potomac Home Brigade – actually a large regiment, part of Brig. Gen. Henry H. Lockwood’s 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 12th Corps, USA – had taken part in a minor action on July 2, when they helped recapture some guns on Cemetery Ridge, though without a fight from the rebels. The regiment spent the night camped on the Baltimore Pike. Mid-morning on the 3rd, Lockwood sent an order to the 1st Maryland to attack the Confederates holding the lower slopes of Culp’s Hill.

The 1st Potomac split into two parts as it marched the 1700 feet separating the Baltimore Pike from the Confederate position, the left half entering Pardee Field, the right half passing into the area where the 1st Maryland PHB monument, and our witness tree, stand today. Here, Philip Laino reports, Maryland “men and boys” from the Federal army met and fought those of the Confederate army. (1) After pressing back southern pickets, the 1st MD PHC remained only briefly to continue the struggle, losing about 80 of its men, when it was ordered to withdraw by General Lockwood, who defended this precipitate command by claiming that he desired “to save [the 1st MD] from murderous fire to which it was exposed”. He also threw in that the men were low on ammunition. (2)

The 1st MD PHB moved to Upper Culp’s Hill, where it participated in the repulse of the futile assault launched by the Confederate brigade of Col. Edward O’Neal.


This tree was first photographically identified by Greg Gober, using the 1898 image shown below in Figure P-1.

(1) Laino, Philip. Gettysburg Campaign Atlas. Gettysburg: Gettysburg Publishing, 2014. P. 325.
(2) Gottfried, Bradley M. The Maps of Gettysburg. California: Savas Beatie, 2007. P. 98.

Col. William P. Maulsby (1st Maryland Potomac Home Brigade, USA) Witness Tree

Figure P-1: The Colonel William Maulsby Witness Tree stands about 35 feet to the south of the monument of the regiment known as the 1st Maryland Potomac Home Brigade. The tree leans decisively further to the southeast today, due to the fact that the roots, growing as they do in poor and rocky soil, are less able to support the tree’s increasing weight over the decades. 1898 photo by William Tipton.

Tree Species: white oak
Circumference 2023: 98.5”
Diameter: 31.4”
Calculated Average Growth Rate:  6.1 years / inch diameter
Estimated age:  190 years
Estimated diameter in 1863: 5”
GPS: 39.814710 N, 77.216826W

Figure P-2: The slanting black walnut tree in the two pictures’ foreground is another witness tree, the Auto Tour Stop #13 tree. This photograph appeared in the annual report of topographical engineer Emmor Cope to the Gettysburg Commission.

This witness white oak tree is growing right out of the boulders that cover this lowest southern slope of Culp’s Hill, about 35 feet south of the monument to the 1st Maryland Potomac Home Brigade. The tree can be seen in two 1898 photos (see Figures P-1 and P-2) taken from opposite sides. The fact that the tree can be seen to be leaning much further over in the modern images (compared to their older counterparts) confirms that these are all the same tree. The subtle curves of the tree can also be seen to match up in each pair of then-and-now photographs.

The ratio of our tree’s diameter 1898:2023 is about 0.35, suggesting a reasonable growth rate of 6.1 years to grow each inch of diameter over the last 125 years. The tree is likely about 190 years old, and its diameter in 1863 at the time of the battle was very likely in the 5 inch range. Because of the rocky soil beneath it, the tree’s below-ground support has never been too strong, resulting in its leaning further and further towards the ground as it has gotten larger and heavier over the years.

The tree is named for Col. William P. Maulsby, commander of the 1st Maryland Potomac Home Brigade. Born in 1815, Maulsby lived his entire life in Maryland, practicing law and engaging in politics. He was a resident of Frederick when war broke out, and was named colonel of the 1st Maryland PHB when it was formed in 1861. He served as the regiment’s commander for its entire three years of service. After the war, Maulsby served as a judge in the Maryland state court system, including a stint as a member of the Maryland Court of Appeals. The aged colonel died in 1894, and was buried in Frederick’s Mt. Olivet Cemetery. (3)

(3) Maryland State Archives Website. William P. Maulsby (1815-1894). Retrieved May 4, 2023: https://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/ speccol/sc3500/sc3520/001800/001835/ html/1835bio.html