Hardaway Artillery Group

What These Trees Witnessed

Figure P-1: the pair of Whitworth guns that once stood behind the stone wall of Schultz’s Woods was a favorite photographic subject in the early 20th century. This is a north-facing view of the trees and guns. The 1909 image, taken by J.I. Mumper, was published in a Gettysburg picture album.

These trees witnessed various units, north and south, passing through this woodlot – known as the Schultz Woods – and occupying this section of Seminary Ridge, over the course of the three-day battle. 

On July 1, 1863, after the Federal 1st Corps had finally been driven off of McPherson Ridge, elements of the Iron Brigade and other survivors of the morning’s fight made a stand on Seminary Ridge by the Lutheran Seminary. At this time, the cavalry brigade of Col. William Gamble (1st Division, Cavalry Corps) occupied the western edge of these small woods. His presence diverted the attention of Brig. Gen. James H. Lane, who out of excessive caution did not participate in the Confederate attack on Seminary Ridge. As the battle for Seminary Ridge raged, Gamble was driven out of the woods by the 12th and 13th South Carolina Infantry of Col. Abner Perrin’s Confederate brigade, after which the South Carolinians were ordered to move forward towards to the town, vacating the woods and ridge.

(Gamble’s brigade comprised of four regiments – two from Illinois and one each from New York and Indiana. The 8th Illinois held the distinction of firing the Battle of Gettysburg’s “first shot“, which is commemorated by a small monument at the Wisler House, located on the Chambersburg Pike (Route 30) two miles west of the McPherson Barn).

Two Whitworth guns like the one shown here standing on Oak Hill once stood in the Schultz Woods at the position of the Hardaway Artillery, but are long gone. Their disappearance has been a puzzle for many years.

On July 2 and 3, the position was occupied by several Confederate artillery units, who took part in the massive artillery bombardment of Cemetery Ridge that preceded Pickett’s Charge. This group included the guns of the Hardaway (Alabama) Artillery commanded by Capt. William B. Hurt. (1)

The Whitworth Guns

The Army of Northern Virginia owned two powerful cannon known as Whitworths, the only breech-loading pieces to be found at Gettysburg in July 1863 in either army. As can be seen in the then-and-now photographs on this page, two of these Whitworth guns once stood in Schultz Woods along with the other artillery that remain there today. The question is, what happened to those cannon? Are the Whitworths now standing on Oak Hill near the Peace Memorial the same guns?

Find out more about these unusual cannon by clicking on The Mystery of the Whitworth Guns


Tree #1 was first photographically identified by Greg Gober using an early William Tipton photograph, not reproduced here. Tree #2 was identified by the author using the images shown on this page (see Figures P-1 and P-2).

(1) Gottfried, Bradley M. Brigades of Gettysburg. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2012. Pp. 641-6.

Witness Tree #1

Schultz’s Woods: view of the two witness trees as you approach the tablet for Hardaway’s Artillery from West Confederate Avenue.

The Lt. Samuel Wallace (2nd Rockbridge Artillery, CSA) Witness Tree

Tree Species: pignut hickory
Circumference 2023: 64”
Diameter: 20.4
Calculated Average Growth Rate: 13.6 years / inch diameter
Estimated age: 250+ years
Estimated diameter in 1863: 8-8.5”
GPS: 39.828042N, 77.244634W

We have here a classic pignut hickory witness tree, a very slow growing species. Careful comparison of old photographs of the tree with modern recreations reveals the ratio of the diameter of the tree 1909:2023 to be 0.59, which suggests the tree has averaged over 13 years to add each inch of diameter since 1909. This glacial pace is consistent with other hickories found on the battlefield. The tree is very likely a quarter-millennium old, and probably was a mature tree with a diameter of over 8 inches in 1863 during the battle.

This witness tree is named for Lt. Samuel Wallace, commander of the 2nd Rockbridge Artillery, a Virginia unit. Wallace, a 27-year-old farmer when the Civil War began, originally enlisted in the 52nd Viriginia Infantry in June 1861, but was soon thereafter appointed a lieutenant in the 2nd Rockbridge at its formation in July 1861. (2) The unit served with Stonewall Jackson in his 1862 Valley Campaign, then, after the general’s death from wounds suffered in Chancellorsville in May of 1863, was reassigned to Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill’s 3rd Corps. In June 1863, the 2nd Rockbridge’s commander, Capt. J.A.M. Lusk resigned for health reasons, resulting in Wallace’s promotion to command of the unit, which he led at Gettysburg. (3)

After participating in the battle’s earliest fighting west of Herr’s Ridge on July 1, the 2nd Rockbridge stood in Schultz’s Woods for Days 2 and 3 of the battle (its marker is just north of that of Hardaway’s Artillery). Wallace was unluckily killed in the closing days of the war at Petersburg on April 2, 1865. (4) He is buried in McDowell Cemetery in Fairfield, where his gravestone confusingly identifies him as “Killed at Petersburg / Apr. 1, 1864.”

(2) Civil War Data website. Retrieved May 18, 2023: http://civilwardata.com. Record #: C&336229.
(3) 2nd Rockbridge Artillery website. Retrieved June 7, 2023: https://rockbridge2ndco.tripod.com/id1.html.
(4) Morton, Oren F. A History of Rockbridge County, 1920. P. 413.

Witness Tree #2

Figure P-2: Our pair of witness trees as they appeared in a 1932 work published by William Storrick, who had first served as forester of the park in the very early 20th century, and, when he retired in 1931, was supervisor of licensed battlefield guides. This view is from the north, facing south. The Whitworth guns are gone, removed at some unknown time in the distant past, but their concrete footpads, and the marker for the Hardaway Artillery, remain.

The Diffenbaugh – Ushuer (Illinois Cavalry) Witness Tree

Tree Species: white oak
Circumference 2023: 64.5”
Diameter: 20.5
Calculated Average Growth Rate: 10 years / inch diameter
Estimated age: 200-210 years
Estimated diameter in 1863: 4.5-5”
GPS: 39.828001N, 77.244661W

A very slow growing white oak provides a second witness tree in Schultz Woods at the location of the tablet for the Hardaway Artillery. The ratio of the diameter of this tree 1909:2023 is about 0.45, which suggests an average growth rate of about a decade for the tree to have gained each inch of diameter over the past 114 years. The tree is likely two centuries old or greater, and probably had a diameter of 4-5 inches in 1863.

The tree is named for two interesting casualties of the Battle of Gettysburg, and the only Illinois men to be found on this website. The troopers were privates serving respectively in the 8th and 12th Illinois cavalry regiments, which on the first day of the battle, as part of Gamble’s cavalry brigade, were deployed in Schultz’s Woods at the time of the Confederate assault on Seminary Ridge.

The first honoree is Pvt. David Diffenbaugh, who was the only member of the 8th Illinois to lose his life at Gettysburg, mortally wounded in the fighting of July 1, and dying on July 2. (5) (6). Diffenbaugh, a resident of Freeport, IL, at war’s commencement, had enlisted with the 8th Illinois in September 1861. Diffenbaugh is buried in Gettysburg National Cemetery.

Seasonal Ranger Elizabeth Smith has noted that there is a gravestone in the National Cemetery at Gettysburg which identifies the plot’s occupant as a cavalryman of the 8th Illinois. However, since David Diffenbaugh was the only member of this regiment to die at Gettysburg, Smith observes the stone’s engraving is very likely an error. We may also note that David Diffenbaugh’s name appears twice in a history of the 8th Illinois (published in 1868), once in the roster listing at the end of the book, where his name is spelled Diffenbaugh, and also in the main text, where it is spelled Difenbaugh.

The tree is also named for Pvt. Ferdinand Ushuer of the 12th Illinois Cavalry, who is believed by many to be the first soldier killed in the Battle of Gettysburg (a distinction that has been assigned to a number of different participants). All that is known about Ushuer is that he enlisted as a private in February 1862, was a member of Company C, and that he was killed on July 1, 1863. (7) In his book These Honored Dead: the Union Casualties at Gettysburg, John Busey says of Ferdinand Ushuer, “Hit by a shell from the Fredericksburg, Virginia, Artillery 1 July; may have been the first United States soldier killed at Gettysburg.” Busey also notes Ushuer was “5’8″, brown hair, blue eyes, light complexion; single; farmer.” (8)

His body unidentified, Ushuer is assumed to have been buried in the Gettysburg National Cemetery.

(5) Abner, Hard. History of the Eighth Cavalry Regiment, Illinois Volunteers, During the Great Rebellion, 1868. P. 258.
(6) Civil War Data website. Retrieved May 18, 2023. Record #: U&1198336.
(7) Ibid., Record #: U&1279805.
(8) Busey, John. These Honored Dead: the Union Casualties at Gettysburg. Hightstown, New Jersey: Longstreet House, 1996. Thanks to Ranger Karlton Smith for finding this information.