A 42-acre wood lot located on the northwest section of the Gettysburg battlefield is getting a makeover, according to a spokeswoman for the national military park. When the battle commenced on July 1, 1863, the property was known as Herr Woods and was a source of income for Frederick Herr, who sold timber and firewood. The Confederates used it as a staging area for attacks on Union forces and then later as a refuge where wounded soldiers awaited ambulances to take them to field hospitals.
The park’s plan is to recreate the appearance of the wood lot as it was at the time of the battle, with a more balanced mix of younger, middle-aged and older trees than it has now. The “health cuts” have already begun and should be finished by next month.
One aspect of the upgrade, however, will not conform with historical accuracy: In accordance with what is now considered sound forest management, felled trees will be left in place to provide an attractive habitat. Eventually they will rot and enhance the soil. In the 1860s, leaving usable wood on the ground would have been considered wasteful.
The parcel is located just west of Country Club Lane.
The Herr Woods project is a part of an ongoing effort to rehabilitate much of the 6,000-acre battlefield by recreating its 1863 appearance.