Sunday, March 29, 2009

CWL---Gettysburg Battlewalks: Herbst Woods, A Witness To Courage

Gettysburg Battlewalks: Herbst Woods, Scott Hartwig, Pennsylvania Cable Network, DVD format, 2 hours 25 minutes, 2006, $19.95.

Herbst’s Woods, popularly but inaccurately known as McPherson’s Woods, are a part of the 160 acre John Herbst farm. The northern boundary of the woods is also the southern boundary of the McPherson farm and the McPherson buildings are closer than the Herbst buildings. The western boundary of the woods is Willoughby Creek and the eastern boundary is the crest of McPherson Ridge. The wood lot during the battle consisted of about 18 acres of trees but no underbrush. Visibility in the woods was about 100 yards. Farm animals grazed through the woods and kept it clear of most vegetation and low hanging branches. The woods contained heavy fighting between the Federal Iron Brigade and the Confederate brigades of Archer, and elements of Brockenbrough’s and Pettigrew’s brigades. It also contains the location of the death of Federal Corps commander Reynolds. The 26th North Carolina and 151st Pennsylvania fought each other here.

Scott Hartwig's GNMP Anniversary Battlewalk 2006 was attended by about 300, including CWL who leaves his physical graffitti on many minutes of the film. As on that day, CWL viewed the DVD with McElfresh's watercolor map in his hands. Based on Cope's map, McElfresh's maps have the tree and fence lines, the farm buildings and crops clearly marked. The elevation lines are simple and shown by green hash marks. Among Hartwig's many fine tours, the 2006 Herbst Woods tour ranks very high in clarity of both units' arrivals and movements on the field and human interest details of the soldiers. The Harmom Farm woods and wheatfiels , through which the Confederate assault came is now (or was until January 2009) the Gettysburg Country Club. Archer's, Brockenbrough's, Pettigrew's and Fry's assaults upon the Iron Brigade and the 151st Pennsylvania of the Biddle's brigade. The 26th North Carolina and the 151st Pennyslvania met in the east section of Herbst's Woods; that fact was the basis for a 2008 Gettysburg Licenced Battlefield Guide Exam question.

Hartwig covers numerous accounts of verbal command orders, flag losses, color gaurd losses in the words of the soldiers themselves. He sets forth both the command and control issues of the engagement in Herbst's Woods as well as the testing of individuals' courage. It was a fine 2006 battle anniversary morning and it made a fine PCN Battlewalk dvd.

Image Source: Daughters of the 24th Michigan

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