Tree #1

Witness Tree #1 stands between cannon a3 and a4 of the Letcher Artillery, whose tablet appears on the left in the photograph.

Witness Tree #1, which seems to be growing right through the stone wall at a point between cannons a3 and a4 of the Letcher Artillery, appears in the 1902 William Tipton photograph shown in Figure P-1 below. Note that the matching then-and-now photographs do not show cannon a-1, but only cannons a2-a4.


This tree was first identified by Greg Gober, using the 1902 image reproduced on this page in Figure P-1 below.

Missing Tree “A”

The tree labeled as “A” in my modern, 2023 image in Figure P-1 is a large white oak tree with a circumference of 111 inches. This tree is most certainly a witness tree, but unfortunately it cannot be matched up with any tree appearing in the Tipton picture. Perhaps the tree is hiding behind the large tree labeled with a red “X” in the 1902 image, a tree which is no longer extant.

Go to Trees #2 and #3 →

Witness Tree #1

Lt. Archibald W. McGregor (18th NC, CSA) Witness Tree

Figure P-1: Witness Tree #1 can be easily identified in the 1902 William Tipton photograph. The large tree labeled with an “A” is a likely witness tree itself, but it cannot be identified in the 1902 image; perhaps it is obscured by the large tree marked with a red “X” which is no longer standing,

Tree Species: white oak
Circumference 2023: 112”
Diameter: 35.67”
Calculated Average Growth Rate: 6.2 years / inch diameter
Estimated age: 220-230 years
Estimated diameter in 1863: 10”
GPS: 39.821416 N, 77.245684 W

This large tree, with a diameter of just about a full yard, is easily over two centuries old. The ratio of the tree’s diameter 1902:2023 is about 0.46, which suggests a typical growth rate of just over 6 years to grow each inch of diameter. The tree was likely quite mature at the time of the battle, probably sporting a 10-inch diameter.

The tree is named for Lt. Archibald W. McGregor of Company F of the 18th North Carolina Volunteers. The 22-year-old McGregor, a farmer, enlisted in the 18th as a corporal at the war’s commencement in June 1861. He was promoted to second lieutenant in April 1862, and first lieutenant in November of the same year. (1)

At Gettysburg, the 18th North Carolina was serving in the brigade commanded Brig. Gen. James H. Lane, which, along with the brigade of Col. L.J. Lowrance, was under the overall command of Maj. Gen. Isaac R. Trimble. Trimble’s demibrigade formed the second line of the left wing of the Confederate attack on July 3, 1863. 

In the assault on Cemetery Ridge, many of Lane’s Tarheels never moved past the Emmitsburg Road, taking advantage of the depressed roadbed which offered some protection from the Union fire from the ridge. The intrepid McGregor, however, led his company beyond the road, shouting “Hurrah for Dixie! Follow me, boys. Let us show them what we can do.” Moments later, McGregor was killed, taking a bullet in the chest. (2) His unidentified remains were presumably buried on the field, and eventually returned south to be re-interred in the anonymous graves section of a Confederate cemetery.

(1) Civil War Data website. Retrieved May July 8, 2023: Record #: C&191974.
(2) Tucker, Phillip Thomas. Pickett’s Charge. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2016. P. 230.