The boulders at Devil’s Den are molten rock, formed roughly 200 million years ago, a time when dinosaurs roamed the Gettysburg area basin. On July 2, 1863, two Confederate regiments—the 3rd Arkansas and 1st Texas— attacked and captured this rocky formation while the larger Texas brigade fought at nearby Little Round Top.
For a map by the American Battlefield Trust that shows battlefield action in Devil’s Den, click here. Or to read Civil War Cycling’s dense but detailed study notes for Day 2 Gettysburg, click here and look under the Detailed Summary for “Fighting in Devil’s Den.”
Boulders at Devil’s Den
Smith’s Battery on Houck’s Ridge
Capt James E. Smith commanded the 4th New York Independent Battery in the defense of Devil’s Den on July 2, 1863. The battery anchored the left flank of the Army of the Potomac, specifically Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles’ 3rd Corps. Capt. Smith positioned four Parrott guns on the ridge above the boulder’s at Devil’s Den, plus two more guns in the swale west of Little Round Top (known now as the Valley of Death).
In the following photo, a Union gun faces the direction from which Brig. Gen. Jerome B. Robertson’s Texans attacked and headed northeast toward Little Round Top. The oak tree in this photo is commonly identified as a “witness tree,” because it is considered old enough to have witnessed the Battle of Gettysburg. (For a Civil War Cycling article with photos of seventeen Gettysburg witness trees, click here).
Next, we see a famous view of Little Round Top while standing within a stone wall that, sometime after the Battle of Gettysburg, photographers Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan staged a grewsome battle photo using a Confederate infantryman as a prop. A nearby park wayside exhibit entitled “Confederate Sharpshooter?” describes the controversy.
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