2nd Manassas - Aug. 1862
The Battle of Gettysburg - Thursday July 2, 1863
The Devil's Den

Devel's Den

As the Southerners prepared for battle of July 2, 1863, they positioned themselves to move forward and attack the left flank of the Union's long line. Despite Confederate Major General John Bell Hood's protests concerning the rocky exposed ground his men would need to cover, General Longstreet, consistent with General Lee's wishes, ordered him forward. General Hood, obeying the command of his superior, ordered Brigadier General Evander Law forward towards Houck's Ridge and a rocky, craggy, geologic anomaly known locally as the Devil's Den. CSA General Law's men had already suffered a grueling marched in excess of 20 miles that day just to reach the battlefield. They then marched several more miles under an unforgiving hot, humid Pennsylvania sun in order to get into position for the looming assault. At days end, the men of Hood's Division would hold this ground but would advance no further. The oddly placed boulders in the Den would however provide excellent cover for sniping at any Federal soldier who risked venturing out from behind their own shelter to peer at their adversaries or otherwise move about on Little Round Top just across the valley to the northeast.

Devil's Den and Houck's Ridge from Little Round TopAn officer in General Law's Brigade, Colonel James Sheffield, 48th Alabama, would later describe the rocky, rough terrain, pictured to your left, in his official report. "...this regiment, with the brigade, marched from New Guilford to the field, a distance of 20 miles, where we were placed in line of battle in the open field, where Companies A and H were ordered on picket. After lying in line of battle a half hour, we were ordered forward, and advanced a distance of 1 mile over a very rough and rugged road--the worst cliffs of rocks there could have been traveled over." As the attack progressed, Confederate Brigadier General Jerome Bonaparte Robertson, marching just to the left of General Law, would comment of the hazards they experienced. "As we advanced through this field, for half a mile we were exposed to a heavy and destructive fire of canister, grape, and shell from six pieces of their artillery on the mountain alluded to, and the same number on a commanding hill but a short distance to the left of the mountain, and from the enemy's sharpshooters from behind the numerous rocks, fences, and houses in the field." [5]