Battlefield Explorers

father and son at devils den gettysburg
Dad and I at Devil's Den - Summer 1963
Originally posted October 8, 2011.

Whenever I see a photo like this one of my father and myself I like to hold on to it. To me it represents a few moments of male bonding of which my father wasn't famous. My mother was the primary photographer for family photos but my father was famous for avoiding the camera.

This photo was taken in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on that famous battlefield. The year is 1963 the 100th anniversary of the 3 day battle.

For those not familiar with it, the Battle of Gettysburg was during the American Civil War and was the bloodiest battle in history. Nearly 50,000 men lost their lives. In commemoration the government made almost the entire town a National Military Park

There are literally hundreds of monuments of all shapes and sizes all over the town like this one where we are standing. I've always wanted to know which monument this was so I could pinpoint the exact time and place where we were standing.

There is a website which catalogs all of the monuments there. After a few minutes of searching through I found the same likeness of the one here.

4th New York Independent Battery
This statue is above Devil's Den. This makes sense because I can remember being obsessed with the words "devil's den" and thought it was an intriguing place to hold a standoff. I still have a small toy canon just like the ones behind me.

Devil's Den is an outcropping of rocks which form perfect hiding spots where a Confederate solider had taken up position and was a lone sniper. He kept other Union companies from engaging in the Battle of Little Round Top until he was taken out by a percussion shell.

The 4th New York had taken up position on the far left. Three of their six guns were captured while they supported the 4th Maine Infantry. Two men were killed with ten wounded. Eleven horses were killed.

My dad was a WWII vet involved in battles in Northern Africa, Sicily and Italy. I'm sure he knew a bit about military strategy. He was probably trying to impart in me the importance of that position on the battlefield. All I knew is that there were lots of guys shot and killed here. Typical boy stuff, blood and gore. Notice the "field glasses" he is holding in his hand. He surveyed the scene like a general.

Devils Den MapThe statue was heavily damaged by vandals in the winter of 2006, toppling it over and severing the head and ramrod. The National Park Service just this past summer started repair by taking measurements and moldings of an identical statue found in Manchester, New Hampshire. It will be ready to be rededicated in the Spring of 2012.


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