Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Little Round Top and Devil's Den

Little Round Top is a rocky hill south of Gettysburg where the Union (left flank) repelled a Confederate attack on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863.  Those who have seen the 1993 movie Gettysburg will recall Jeff Daniels' convincing portrayal of Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamblerlain, who courageously defended the flank, charging downhill with his men, bayonets raised because their ammunition was spent.  But one man and his company (the 20th Maine) did not themselves win the hill for the Union. Some, like Brigadier General Stephen Weed,  commanding the 91st Pennsylvania's brigade, were mortally wounded while defending it.   

No one knows whose bullet struck and mortally wounded Weed, but some speculate that it came from one of the Confederate sharpshooters hiding within rocks and crevices of Devil's Den.  (I took both images in February 2012.)  Stories abound about the fates of those men locked in battle--the Confederate sharpshooters below firing upon the Union officers and men above.  I found one such  at the Web site, Devil's Den: A History and A Guide, by Gary E. Adleman and Timothy H. Smith:

"In July 1865, the laying of the cornerstone for the Soldiers Monument in the National Cemetery attracted a large crowd of visitors to Gettysburg. A few of the reporters covering the event took this opportunity to visit the battlefield.  Lorenzo L. Crounse of the New York Times wrote:

In front of [Little Round Top] is the little valley, rendered moist by a stagnant brook: the "Devil's Den," a remarkable upheaval of enormous rocks, forming a cavern a hundred feet long, and large enough to admit a man; through this runs a trickling stream, and here our poor wounded men crawled during the battle for water and safety, only to meet their death by drowning when the rains of the night suddenly swelled this stream to a torrent from which there was no escape. A dozen bodies were afterward taken from a huge crevice, where they had been left by the receding waters.3"
For more such compelling reports, visit the History and Guide at

Until next time . . .

Georgia Anne

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