HARRISBURG -- Gettysburg military historians call them "Witness Trees" -- trees with bullets still in them from the awful fighting among soldiers from the North and South that raged from July 1-3, 1863.
In the years immediately after the battle, finding bullets on the ground and in trees was common, but not anymore -- until last Thursday. That's when Gettysburg National Military Park workers who were cutting up a fallen oak tree on Culp's Hill hit some 148-year-old bullets inside the tree.
"Culp's Hill is one of the areas on the Gettysburg Battlefield that saw intense fighting," said park Supt. Bob Kirby. Finding such bullets nowadays "is a rarity," he added.
Park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon said, "The past is still with us."
The fallen oak tree was resting on a boulder, next to the Joshua Palmer marker, on the east slope of the Culp's Hill summit. The tree sections with the bullets are being treated to remove insects and then will be added to the park's museum collection. The rest of the fallen tree will remain on the slope.
National Park Service employees point out Witness Trees to the thousands of visitors who visit the battlefield each year. Park officials are in the process of restoring and re-opening meadows and farm fields (that became battlegrounds) to the way they looked in July 1863.
A four-year commemoration of the Civil War's 150th anniversary began in April, at Fort Sumter, S.C., and will go on at sites around the nation until 2015. A large ceremony in Gettysburg, lasting two weeks, is being planned for July 2013, the 150th anniversary of the historic battle.
Tom Barnes: firstname.lastname@example.org .