Tree #4

Photograph P-3 and Tree #4

Witness Tree #4 has been leaning towards West Confederate Avenue for over a century.

This massive white oak tree, which leans noticeably towards West Confederate Avenue, appears in the great distance in a 1932 photograph which was published in William Storrick’s Gettysburg: The Place, the Battle, the Outcome. With a diameter ratio 1932:2023 of 0.67, the estimated growth rate of this tree for the last century is over 7 years to grow each inch of diameter, which means that this tree is likely a quarter of a millennium old, and likely sported a diameter of at least a foot in 1863.

Witness Tree #4 stands to the left of the gap in the stone wall just to the left of the guns of the Pee Dee Artillery.

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Col. James K. Marshall (CSA) Tree

Figure P-3.

Tree Species: white oak
Circumference 2023: 116”
Diameter: 36.9”
Calculated Average Growth Rate: 7.4 years / inch diameter
Estimated age: 250+ years
Estimated diameter in 1863: 15”
GPS: 39.820720N, 77.246220W

Witness Tree #4 is named for the young and talented Col James K. Marshall, who led Brig. Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew’s division at Gettysburg on the third day of battle. A Virginia native, Marshall graduated from VMI in 1860, after which he removed to North Carolina to become a teacher. Marshall enlisted in the Confederate Army’s 1st North Carolina Infantry in April 1861, before being reassigned to the 52nd North Carolina in November of that year. He was promoted to colonel in April 1862. (1)

Figure P-3a: A close-up and cropped view of Witness Tree #4 in the distance. The modern Tree #8 cannot be discerned in the 1932 photograph, either because the tree is hidden behind the no longer extant tree indicated in the old picture, or because it is hidden in the darkness behind the now-gone tree.

Colonel Marshall was considered a natural leader and a most-promising officer. When Maj. Gen. Henry Heth was injured on July 1st in the Battle of Gettysburg’s opening scene in Herbst Woods, Pettigrew took over his division, and Marshall was raised to take over Pettigrew’s brigade of North Carolinians.

Marshall was one of over the dozen officers who made the charge on Cemetery Ridge while mounted on his steed. During the approach to the Emmitsburg Road, an exploding shell caused Marshall to fall off his horse, but he remounted, and with drawn sword, encouraged his men forward. (2)

Col James K. Marshall (1839-1863)

Despite the decimation of his brigade as it approached the ridge, the courageous 24-year-old colonel, who remained miraculously unharmed, led about a thousand of his Tarheels to within several yards of the northern section of the stone wall, near the Brian Farm, before he took a bullet in the chest, instantly killing him. (3)

Colonel James Marshall’s body was never recovered, and is thought to be amongst those thousands of rebel dead initially buried on the field of battle in a shallow grave, before being recovered and removed south in 1871, and buried in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery in the Gettysburg plot of unknown soldiers. A cenotaph for the popular Marshall stands in a cemetery in Fauquier County, VA.

(1) Allardice, Bruce S. Confederate Colonels: A Biographical Register. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2008. P. 279.
(2) Tucker, Phillip Thomas. Pickett’s Charge. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2016. P. 185.
(3) Ibid., pp. 299-300.