Devil's Den Barricade - Gettysburg National Military Park Historic District - Gettysburg, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 47.502 W 077° 14.573
18S E 307958 N 4407044
Quick Description: This stone wall @ Devil's Den represents a defensive shelter used by Confederate Sharpshooters firing across to Little Round Top on July 2, 1863. It is famous for TImothy Sullivan's "staged" July 6th photo of a dead Rebel @ the barricade.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 7/20/2013 10:29:05 AM
Waymark Code: WMHKK6
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 11

Long Description:

One of the most iconic and recycled photographs about Gettysburg, is this sad scene of a dead Rebel kid/man laying behind a stone barricade at Devil's Den. The photo was taken on July 5 or 6, 1863 by photographer Alexander Gardner and two of associates. Gardner later published the photograph in his "Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War" accompanied by a lavish description of his discovery of the dead soldier who he described as a sharpshooter killed at his post. Gardner also speculated on the dead soldier's final moments in the sniper's nest, adding that he found his bleached bones still lying in the nest while on a later visit to the site. It was not until 1975 when Gettysburg: A Journey In Time by author-historian William Frassanito was published, that this apparent hoax by Gardner was uncovered. This scene was actually posed by Gardner and his associates who carried the corpse into this position and dressed up the scene with relics of war scattered about the area. A final touch was the rifle standing against the barricade, placed by Gardner who had used the weapon in previous photos. Gardner's assistants, James Gibson and his chief photographer Timothy O'Sullivan, took two photographs of the scene, the clearest of which is shown on the interpretive at this site. They then moved on to photograph other scenes in the adjacent "Slaughter Pen", leaving the body in the sharpshooter's nest. It's kind of a sucky way to die and be remembered and perhaps a bit disrespectful as well. Bottom line here is, I have no doubt this position and barricade were used as a sniping spot as the rocks were piled up in a defensive mode, and a clear view of Little Round Top lay beyond. I was able to see all the monuments from that vantage point.

Devils Den is a boulder-strewn Gettysburg Battlefield hill used by artillery and infantry (e.g., snipers) during the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Second Day. A visitor attraction since the memorial association era, several boulders are worn from foot traffic and the site includes numerous cannon, memorials, and walkways, including a bridge spanning 2 boulders. This is the bridge that will lead you up to this site.

The Devil's Den Barricade is located at the top of Devil's Den, along the ridge line. There is a dirt path that starts at the top of the steps off of the road and winds its way through the rocks until arriving at the top and the barricade. The barricade is marked by a horizontal interpretive, part of a series of handsome markers which dot every part of the Gettysburg Battlefield landscape. Parking is available up here at large shoulder areas on the right side of the road just north of this marker, next to the four Parrott rifles. The road actually winds through ere as well and this display will be on the right or east side of the road as you rive past it to park the car. Take care to not park on anything remotely green looking as Park Police will happily ticket you. I visited this site on Monday, July 1, 2013 on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg @ 5:00 PM, EDT & @ an altitude of 527 feet, ASL. As always, I used my trusty and oft abused Canon PowerShot 14.1 Megapixel, SX210 IS digital camera for the photos.

Each interpretive is held in a thick, black frame, about 3 feet high and tilted at such an angle for suitable and easy reading. This particular series, the large ones with b&w photos on the right and text on the left, were constructed and erected by the Gettysburg National Military Park. The marker offers some insight as to the fighting that occurred up here on July 2 1863 as well as some history behind this famous picture. On the right are Gardner's famous photo of the Rebel Sharpshooter and one other photograph taken by him from the area around the Devil's Den. The marker reads:

"…some mother may yet be patiently waiting for the return of her boy, whose bones lie bleaching, unrecognized and alone, between the rocks at Gettysburg".
Alexander Gardner
Civil War photographer

In front of you is the setting of one of Gettysburg’s most famous historic photographs, taken three days after the battle.

The photo depicts a stone wall probably built and used by Confederate sharpshooters, a rifle-musket propped against the wall, and the body of a Confederate soldier with a knapsack under his head. Although the elements in the photo are authentic, they had been rearranged for dramatic effect.

Photographers Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan found the dead soldier – probably a Texas or Georgia infantryman – some 40 yards behind you, then placed the body on a blanket and moved it here to the sharpshooter position. The weapon – not a sharpshooter’s rifle – was placed beside the body.

The photo was staged, but the tragedy was real. A young man from the South lay dead, far from family and home.

Civil war photographer Alexander Gardner titled this photo “The Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter.” It was taken near this spot where you are standing on July 6, 1863, while Union soldiers were still at work removing and burying the dead.

In Gardner’s photo caption he claims he visited this site four months later and found the rusting rifle-musket and the decomposing body in the same position.

Gardner and his associates took this and three other photos of the body at the spot where it was found on the hillside behind you before moving it to the sharpshooter’s wall.


The Devil's Den Barricade is a contributing feature to the Gettysburg National Military Park Historic District which is nationally significant under NR Criteria A, B, C & D. Areas of Significance: Military, Politics/Government, Landscape Architecture, Conservation, Archeology-Historic. Period of Significance: 1863-1938. The original National Register Nomination was approved by the Keeper March 19, 1975. An update to this nomination was approved by the Keeper on January 23, 2004. The monument is identified as structure number WA35.

From the Nomination Form:
Represents a defense barricade hastily erected by CS sharpshooter(s) in Devil's Den on pm of July 2,1863. Its existence at that time is documented in a Timothy Sullivan photo, taken July 6, 1863, showing a CS "sharpshooter" purportedly killed here. This stone wall was used by the armies for defensive purposes during the battle. It was built from random field stone for defensive purposes by the armies during the occupation of the battlefield.

Short Physical Description:
Reconstructed barricade, cement-mortared to ensure stability & permanence. Located between 2 large native boulders at S end of den & just E of Sickles Ave.

Long Physical Description:
N/A


My Sources
1. NRHP Nomination Form
2. Wikipedia
3. Ghosts of Gettysburg: Walking on Hallowed Ground
4. Historical Marker Database

Name of Historic District (as listed on the NRHP): Gettysburg National Military Park Historic District

Link to nationalregisterofhistoricplaces.com page with the Historic District: [Web Link]

NRHP Historic District Waymark (Optional): [Web Link]

Address:
Gettysburg National Military Park Devil's Den Sickles Road Gettysburg, PA 17325


How did you determine the building to be a contributing structure?: Narrative found on the internet (Link provided below)

Optional link to narrative or database: [Web Link]

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