Quite often we hear about tree removal projects to clear sight lines and recreate appearances at Civil War units of the National Park System. At Gettysburg National Military Park, they're planting trees to return the landscape to 1860s appearances.
Park crews last week started replanting four more historic orchards in major battle action areas on the battlefield. The goal is to replant 30 acres of orchards with hardy varieties of apple so visitors can better understand the fighting and see the battlefield through the eyes of the soldiers fighting in 1863.
According to the National Park Service, "the project includes replanting the largest orchard in the park – the McMillan Orchard, which is 26 acres along both sides of West Confederate Avenue. In addition, the park is replanting the orchards at the Timbers Farm, Klingel farm and at the Spangler farm at East Cavalry Battlefield."
According to park historians, almost every farm of any size in 1863 Gettysburg had an orchard, usually of a size in proportion to the farmstead. The orchards played many roles during the battle—cover from observation or from fire for both troops and artillery batteries; concealment during movement; obstructions to observation or clear fields of fire; places to gather to rest or seek medical assistance.
Since 2000, the park has replanted 79 acres at 32 historic orchard sites. The goal is to replant a total of 160 acres of orchards throughout the major battle action areas of the battlefield.
No word yet if you'll be able to pick the fruits of the park's labors.