Devil's Den, Gettysburg
Known also as the Valley of Death and the Slaughter Pen, this strange large set of boulders and rocks at the base of Little Round Top was the scene of heavy fighting, when Union artillery batteries and infantry units were located here to protect the main lines. On July 2nd, the Confederates mounted a large attack on the Federal troops, forcing the fighting into the confusing rocky maze of Devil's Den. Here, soldiers of both armies got seemingly lost in the set of boulders, making heavy hand to hand combat and excellent opportunity for sharpshooters to pick off fleeing soldiers. The Union forces were forced into a retreat back towards the Round Tops and Cemetery Ridge, with many of them being cut down along the way.
One of the Civil War's most famous photographs was taken here, showing a dead Southern sniper lying against a cover of rocks. However, it's rumored that the photographer moved the Southern soldier into this location to make it a more dramatic picture.
Little Round Top overlooks a small valley and the lower ridge where the Devil's Den is located. It was fortified by Union forces. Confederate forces captured the Devil's Den but were unsuccessful in capturing Little Round Top. One can see why from these pictures. The Little Round Top positions were at ~660 feet and the Devil's Den more than 100 feet below that across an open valley about 900 yards wide. It is no wonder that after the battle, the area between the Devil's Den and the two Round Tops was nicknamed "The Slaughter Pen" and Plum Run Valley became the "Valley of Death."
Although the Confederate forces captured the Devil's Den and it has clear views of the Union positions on Little Round Top ~900 yards to the east, they were never able to take Little Round Top. Again, the higher ground had strategic advantage. The Devil's Den summit is ~540 feet elevation and the Little Round Top positions were at ~660 feet.
The first picture shows the Devil's Den from below. Notice the tree behind and above the rock outcropping. The tree is on the Devil's Den summit where on 2 Jul 1863 CPT James E. Smith's 4th New York cannon battery defended against a Confederate attack from three sides. However, the Devil's Den eventually fell and was occupied by Confederate forces who then fought the Union forces that occupied the higher ground on Little Round Top ~900 yards to the east. After the battle, this was the site of a famous photograph. See the "Confederate Sniper?" tip.
Devil's Den is a rocky outcropping on the southernmost part of Houck's Ridge ~900 yards west of Little Round Top across the valley formed by Plum Run Creek. This mass of boulders ranging from 6-15 feet high forms numerous natural caves or "dens." The summit of the Devil's Den is on up the ridge from the rocky outcropping. When viewed from higher ground, the depression resembles a gigantic horned bat or "devil" in flight. After the battle, the area between the Devil's Den and the two Round Tops was nicknamed "The Slaughter Pen" and Plum Run Valley became the "Valley of Death". The dead of both armies were everywhere and it was over a week after the battle ended before all of the bodies were buried. See also two videoclips.
One caution when driving on the one-way southern part of the self-guided tour. As South Confederate Avenue approaches Little Round Top, the left turnoff to the Devil's Den on Warren Avenue is at the base of the hill. If you go past Warren Avenue, you must go all the way around via Sykes Avenue, Wheatfield Road and the one-way Crawford Avenue to get back to the Devil's Den.
A good place to give in to your inner child and go climb around on the rocks while still maintaining a purpose of historical interest.
From atop of rocks at Devil's Den you can look back up and see all of Little Round Top and appreciate its purpose as a commanding strategic position.
If one takes the time to look around a little past the base of Devil's Den there are many other monuments that are some what dwarfed because of their proximity to Devil's Den, such as the 40th NY infantry monument.
I finally found a picture of Devil's Den:)
Historically, this is the stronghold of the confederates after they captured it on the second day of the battle of Gettysburg. But from a childs point of view, this was the best part of the battlefield for entertainment purposes. Simply put, Devils Den is a pile of large rocks that are great fun to climb on, no matter what age you are! After a day of touring the battlefield, learning the history, reading the markers and monuments, Devils Den is a good place to relax and have fun:)
Evening was approaching as we neared the end of our tour. Devil's Den looks a very foreboding place this time of the day. (More to Come)