Friday, January 01, 2010

Touring Gettysburg Battlefield--- Under The Feet of the Troops: The Geology of the Battlefield (and yes there are dinosaur footprints in the park)

Geology of the Gettysburg Battlefield: How Mesozoic Events and Processes Impacted American History, Roger J. Cuffey et al., Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, 16pp., bibliography, 2006. Downloadable PDF.

The Battle of Gettysburg in south-central Pennsylvania was the largest ever fought on American soil and one of the most significant in its consequences. Moreover, more clearly than most, it demonstrates the roles which underlying geology and surface topography can play in military actions. Early Mesozoic happenings produced the rocks underlying and shaping the Gettysburg landscape, which influenced the flow of the battle and thereby impacted the course of American history. Integration of the battlefield’s geological and military aspects, however, has not yet been adequately presented in concise field-guide format, and so doing that is the intent of the present article.

Inspired by Brown’s (1962) brief summary of the geology of the Gettysburg battlefield, the present co-authors recently wrote a lengthy guidebook and reissued it for a 2006 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting field trip. A shorter field guide was also needed for that trip that could be used by many other geologists afterwards; therefore, Cuffey condensed the long guidebook into the article here, assisted particularly by Inners and Fleeger, but drawing on all of the authors’contributions as well.

CWL: The tour consists of 13 stops with 17 sites. The contents of the report consists of a one page summary of the battle, a two page summary of the geology, a ten page tour descriptions with travel directions and stop descriptions. A bibliography and twenty charts, maps, and photographs is included. Seems perfect for an integrated social studies curriculum for home, private or public schools grades 8 and up. Study focuses: July 1 Railroad Cuts and McPherson's two stone quarries, Culp's Hill, the landscape of the Pickett/Pettigrew/Trimble Charge, The Peach Orchard, the view of South Mountain from the Longstreet Observation Tower, the course of Plum Run, Stoney Knoll/Houck's Ridge/Devil's Den, and the Round Tops.

Report and Tour Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Image Source: Gettysburg Daily