Geary-Slocum North Tree

What This Tree Witnessed

On the morning of July 3, 1862, the 1st Maryland Potomac Home Guard (USA) crossed west to east through these woods to attack the Confederates behind the stone walls up the slope and to the east, but were easily repulsed. Soon thereafter, the Confederate Brigade of Brig. Gen. George H. Steuert, heading northwest, launched its attack through Pardee Field from these woods. Finally, around 10:30 AM, in the meadow to the southeast of this tree, the 2nd Massachusetts and 27th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiments charged futilely against the enemy lines, only to be decimated by the Confederates behind the stone walls.

Color-Corporal Rupert J. Sadler (2nd MA) Witness Tree

Figure P-1: the gigantic Rupert J. Sadler Witness Tree stands out, thanks to the distinctive forking of the trunk halfway up the tree. The 1900 photo is by William Tipton.

Tree Species: white oak
Circumference 2023: 115”
Diameter: 36.6”
Calculated Average Growth Rate: 10 years / inch diameter
Estimated age: 250+ years
Estimated diameter in 1863: 20”
GPS: 39.814952 N, 77.217385 W

Color-Corp. Sadler, Gettysburg National Cemetery, Massachusetts Sector: Row B, Plot B-12. His name is spelled incorrectly on the stone.

This massive and slow-growing white oak, tucked just behind the tortoise-shell shaped rock on the north side of the intersection where Geary, Colgrove and Slocum Avenues meet, is easy to recognize in the then-and-now photographs of Figure P-1, thanks to the distinctive forking about halfway up its trunk. Situated as it is in very rocky soil, it has survived for likely well over two and a half centuries thanks to its incredibly slow growth rate, at least over the last 125 years, of 10 years to grow a single inch of diameter. With a present diameter of 36.6 inches, it was already a very mature tree at the time of the battle, with a diameter in 1863 of probably around 20 inches.

This tree is named for Color-Corporal Rupert J. Sadler, member of the Color Guard of the 2nd Massachusetts. A machinist from Dublin, Ireland, Sadler enlisted in October 1861 from his home in Boston. Promoted to Corporal and Color-Corporal on November 26, 1862, Sadler carried the colors first at Chancellorsville, then at Gettysburg, where he was killed during the charge of the 2nd Massachusetts across Spangler’s Meadow. Sadler’s remains are buried at Gettysburg National Cemetery, with a headstone that incorrectly spells his last name as “Saddler”. (1)

(1) Quint, Alonzo H. The Record of the Second Massachusetts Infantry, 1861-65. P. 350.