The replanted Peach Orchard as seen from across the tree-lined swale on the George Rose farm at Gettysburg.
A few years ago, the National Park Service had all the trees cut down in the historic Sherfy Peach Orchard along Emmitsburg Road in the Gettysburg National Military Park. They applied nutrients to the soil and allowed the field to lay fallow for a couple of years before replanting fresh saplings. They also dramatically expanded the area covered by peach trees to more closely resemble the dimensions of the 1863 peach orchard that was defended by elements of Daniel Sickles’ III Corps of the Union Army of the Potomac. The trees are maturing well, and nearly all have survived the Pennsylvania winter and the spring rains. In addition, the NPS has replanted nearly a dozen other historic orchards, including several along Emmitsburg Road (such as the Rose Farm just south of the Peach Orchard). This is part of the overall battlefield rehabilitation project that has drawn so much praise and criticism, depending upon one’s environmental versus historical preservation mindset).
A closer photo taken inside the expanded dimensions of the replanted Peach Orchard.
Here’s a closeup of some of the young trees replanted for the National Park Service as part of the effort to return the battlefield to a semblance of its 1863 appearance (at least in terms of historic woodlots and orchards). In the distance along the horizon are a few of the monuments that align the Wheatfield Road marking the positions of Sickles’ batteries and some infantry as the Federal line suddenly jogged eastward. Sickles’ rash move drew heavy criticism at the time, and remains one of the more controversial moves of the battle (I tend to think it was rash, unwarranted, stupid, and reckless, but can you tell what I really think of the politician-turned-murderer-turned-general-turned-self proclaimed battlefield saviour????).
Do you defend Sickles’ movement? Some historians believe it took the steam out of Longstreet’s attack and forced it off Lee’s desired course, perhaps saving the Taneytown Road supply lines. Others think a lot of Federal lives would have been saved if Sickles had stayed put along Cemetery Ridge and the Weikert woods area. What do you believe, and why? Have you ever played my Peach Orchard scenario from Enduring Valor? How did it turn out?