17th Maine Tree
What This Tree Witnessed
Around the time the Confederates had commenced their attacks against the Union left on July 2 in the Rose Woods, Col. Regis de Trobriand (3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Corps) ordered the 17th Maine Infantry Regiment to take a position behind the stone wall on the south end of the Wheatfield. Over the next couple of hours, the 17th received and repulsed multiple assaults from Brig. Gen. “Tige” Anderson’s Georgians, only falling back after increasing Confederate numbers were forcing the entire Union line to retire.
Now the Georgians had the advantage of the protection of the wall, behind which they fired north into the oncoming Union forces of Maj. Gen. David B. Birney’s 1st Division (3rd Corps). The Peach Tree soldiers tentatively advanced from the behind the wall, but new Union arrivals – the brigades of Colonels Edward Cross and John R. Brooke – forced Anderson’s men to yet again fall back through Rose Woods.
By now, all of the Confederate troops in this sector have arrived, and an all-out final unified assault, conducted by four brigades, was launched through the Rose Woods into the Wheatfield. Three Federal regiments – the 4th Michigan, 62nd Pennsylvania, and 32nd Massachusetts – stood in the area just to the north of the wall, but the tide of approaching Confederates was too great to withstand. Union forces retreated for the final time from the wall and the Rose Woods, Longstreet’s men capturing the Wheatfield permanently.
This tree was first photographically identified using the 1907 image of Figure P-1 by Greg Gober. Identification through the 1932 image of Figure P-2 was by the author.
Capt. Almon L. Fogg (17th ME) Witness Tree
Tree Species: white oak
Circumference 2023: 103”
Calculated Average Growth Rate: 6.5-7 years / inch diameter
Estimated age: 210-225 years
Estimated diameter in 1863: 9.5-10”
GPS: 39.795688 N, 77.244603 W
The Capt. Fogg Witness Tree is perhaps the most interesting one in Rose Woods, because it stands next to a stone wall that may be the original wall held for several hours by the 17th Maine in the second day’s battle.
We have two photographs of this old tree, though both were taken from or near to Sickles Avenue. The older image in Figure P-1 is a 1907 shot from William Tipton. Here the diameter of the tree appears to be about one-half of its modern diameter (i.e., a diameter ratio of 0.50, 1907:2023), giving it an average growth rate for the past century of 7 years to grow each inch of diameter. This suggests the tree may be near 230 years old.
The second old photograph (Figure P-2) is from a 1932 publication, Gettysburg: the Place, the Battle, the Outcome, by William C. Storrick (published by J. Horace McFarland Company, Harrisburg, PA.). Our Witness Tree is easily identifiable in Storrick’s photo, though not as easy to measure its diameter, since the tree is far away from the photographer, it is partially obscured by foliage, and the image necessarily blurs as you zoom in; still, I estimate a diameter ratio of about 0.57, which correlates decently with the Tipton photo of 1907: Storrick’s photo being taken a quarter-century later, the diameter should be a little larger. This ratio suggests a growth rate of about 6.5, and an age of about 210 years.
The tree was certainly a mature tree in 1863, sporting a diameter very likely of 9-10″.
Our tree is named for Capt. Almon L. Fogg, who was in command of the Company H of the 17th Maine at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Almon Fogg, a resident of Westbrook in the Pine Tree state, enlisted in August 1861 in the 7th Maine, and was subsequently promoted, first to sergeant, then to captain in August 1862, when he was reassigned to Company H of the 17th. (1) On July 2, in the Wheatfield, Fogg was shot in the abdomen. He was taken to the 3rd Corps Hospital, where he died on July 4. (2) Fogg’s body was returned to Westbrook where he was buried. (2) (3) Fogg was the highest-ranking man of the 17th Maine to lose his life at Gettysburg.
A detailed summary of the actions of the 17th Maine at Gettysburg can be found here on the website of the Iron Brigader.
(1) Civil War Data website. Retrieved May July 1, 2023: http://civilwardata.com. Record #: U&2197055.
(3) Seventeenth Maine Regiment at Gettysburg, 1880.