** Please check out my tribute page to two of my Civil War relatives who never made it home **

Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14, 2012

Devil’s Den is without doubt my favorite place I have ever visited. To stand alongside these boulders which pushed through the earth’s core millions of years ago and to ponder their random and beautiful patterns would be fascinating enough, but the added knowledge that they played such an important part in the battle of Gettysburg makes the concept even more intriguing. Southern soldiers fired their rifles from within the crevices of the rocks on July 2, 1863. In return, Northern soldiers laid heavy fire on them from above (Houck’s Ridge), from just a few feet away (along current-day Sickles Avenue), and from across the valley (the “Valley of Death” and Little Round Top).

Both armies had their moments of glory at Devil’s Den. Northerners, including the 4th Maine, the 99th Pennsylvania, and the 124th New York, as well as Smith’s Battery, proudly defended the boulder den and the land surrounding it. Conversely, the 1st Texas laid claim to Smith’s 4th New York Battery, located on modern-day Sickles Avenue above Devil’s Den. It was mostly Southern soldiers who used the rocks to their advantage. The view above shows boulders that were probably used as hiding places, while directly to the left, out of view, is the parking lot which was once a rock-strewn field. This is where the 4th Maine made their stand.

After the battle the dead were supposedly thrown into crevices between the boulders by townspeople more eager to “get the job done” than to give soldiers a decent burial. One wonders if the children who climb and cavort among the boulders have any idea of the horrid events that took place in and among the rocks. And of course there is the tale of the “sharpshooter” in the “Sharpshooter’s Nest” up above, who was not a sharpshooter at all . . .

In the future I’ll have more posts about Devil’s Den, focusing on particular units and their accomplishments, and pointing out sights in more detail.


Co. I, 153rd Pennsylvania Infantry

Born January 01, 1840 --- Died July 01, 1863 at age 23
Samuel was killed on the first day of battle while fighting along the Eleventh Corps Line. Though his body was moved several times, his final resting place is Saint Paul’s United Church of Christ in Indianland, Pennsylvania. His entry in the “U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles” states that his pre-war residence was Plainfield Township, Pennsylvania, and that he had only enlisted eight or nine months before Gettysburg. Some sites list Samuel’s birthday as January 14.

(c) 2012 Skies of Blue and Gray

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