Devil's Den Then and Now

Sketch Artist Alfred Waud in Devil's Den
A Civil War sketch artist, Alfred Waud, sits atop a boulder in Devil's Den as he poses for a picture. The same rock that Alfred Waud sat on in 1863 looks nearly identical today.
Alfred Waud sits perched on a rock in Devil’s Den, overlooking the second day’s battlefield in front of him. Library of Congress.
The central boulder and surrounding boulders identify the exact spot where Waud sat in 1863. NPS Photo.
Alfred Waud was a sketch artist who worked for Harper’s Weekly magazine at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg. This photograph creates a fascinating juxtopostion between the long-standing artform of sketching and the new technology of the day in photography. It is likely that Alfred Waud and the photograpy team of Alexander Gardner, Timothy O'Sullivan, and James Gibson crossed paths during the Civil War and were aware of each others work. This photograph may have been a professional courtesy between the "war correspondents" of the day.  
 
Confederate Dead near Plum Run in the Slaughter Pen
Two dead Confederate soldiers lie on the bank of a small pond, surrounded by large boulders. The modern photograph of this area reveals the Plum Run footbridge and the slope of Little Round Top in the distance.
Two dead Confederate soldiers lie on the bank of a small pond, surrounded by large boulders. Library of Congress.
The modern photograph of this area reveals the Plum Run footbridge and the slope of Little Round Top in the distance. NPS Photo.
This photograph depicts two dead Confederate soldiers in the Slaughter Pen. Years of weather and traffic have shifted some of the rocks in this area, but enough has remained unchanged that the location can be easily determined. The terms “Slaughter Pen” and “Devil’s Den” were often used interchangeably following the battle, making some photographs difficult to place based on title alone.

William A. Frassanito, Early Photography at Gettysburg (Gettysburg: Thomas Publications, 1995), 279-286.
 
Posed Scene in the Slaughter Pen
A number of men posing as dead soldiers lie across and underneath rocks in the Slaughter Pen. The modern photo shows the same rocks, the now-wooded summit of Little Round Top in the background.
A number of men posing as dead soldiers lie across and underneath rocks in the Slaughter Pen. Library of Congress.
The modern photo shows the same rocks, the now-wooded summit of Little Round Top in the background. NPS Photo.
This photograph, taken by Peter Weaver on November 11, 1863, depicts a group of men posing as dead soldiers among rocks in the Slaughter Pen. The two men standing are doctors, posed as if inspecting the “bodies.” The summit of Little Round Top can be seen in the distance.

William A. Frassanito, Early Photography at Gettysburg (Gettysburg: Thomas Publications, 1995), 294-306.
 
Confederate “Sharpshooter” near Devil’s Den, Gardner Stereo #263
A dead soldier lies in front of rocks near Devil’s Den. The same rocks near Devil’s Den are unassuming today.
A dead soldier lies in front of rocks near Devil’s Den. Library of Congress.
The same rocks near Devil’s Den are unassuming today. NPS Photo.
There were six separate images produced by Gardner and O’Sullivan of this “sharpshooter” on July 5 or 6, 1863. At a time when a single photograph required time and expensive materials to produce, there must have been something about this particular body which captured the photographers’ attention. Notably, the man’s youthful features and the lack of gore on the body present a somewhat sanitized and romanticized version of death at Gettysburg.

Learn more about who the Confederate "sharpshooter" may have been on our blog.

William A. Frassanito, Early Photography at Gettysburg (Gettysburg: Thomas Publications, 1995), 268-278.
 
Confederate “Sharpshooter” in Original Location near Devil’s Den
A dead Confederate soldier lies amidst debris near Devil’s Den, with a gun and hat near his head. The rock formations near Devil’s Den remain unchanged in a modern photo of this location.
A dead Confederate soldier lies amidst debris near Devil’s Den, with a gun and hat near his head. Library of Congress.
The rock formations near Devil’s Den remain unchanged in a modern photo of this location. NPS Photo.
This photograph, taken by Alexander Gardner's assistant Timothy O'Sullivan, depicts a dead Confederate soldier at the likely location of his death on the western side of Devil’s Den. The body of this soldier would be moved by the photographers from this location to another one some 40 yards away, where he would become the subject of one of Gettysburg’s most indelible images.

Learn more about who the Confederate "sharpshooter" may have been on our blog.

William A. Frassanito, Early Photography at Gettysburg (Gettysburg: Thomas Publications, 1995), 268-278.
 
CONFEDERATE “SHARPSHOOTER” IN ORIGINAL LOCATION NEAR DEVIL’S DEN
A black and white image of a dead man laying in front of a large boulder. A large boulder shown in a field with greenery.
A dead Confederate soldier lies in front of a large boulder near Devil's Den. Library of Congress
One can see that there are hardly any changes to the rock formations in modern day. NPS image
This photograph, taken by Alexander Gardner's assistant Timothy O'Sullivan, depicts a dead Confederate soldier at the likely location of his death on the western side of Devil’s Den. The body of this soldier would be moved by the photographers from this location to another one some 40 yards away, where he would become the subject of one of Gettysburg’s most indelible images.

Learn more about who the Confederate "sharpshooter" may have been on our blog.
 
“Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter”
A dead Confederate soldier lies behind a stone fortification, a gun propped against the rocks next to him. The same location today shows little change.
A dead Confederate soldier lies behind a stone fortification, a gun propped against the rocks next to him. Library of Congress.
The same location today shows little change. NPS Photo.
Originally produced in Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the War, this photograph has become one of the most recognizable images of the Civil War. While the gun propped against the rock would almost certainly not have been used by a sharpshooter, nor is it likely that the soldier fell in this location, this photograph nevertheless presents a powerful narrative of the struggle in and around Devil’s Den on July 2, 1863.

Learn more about who the Confederate "sharpshooter" may have been on our blog.

William A. Frassanito, Early Photography at Gettysburg (Gettysburg: Thomas Publications, 1995), 268-278.
 
Staged Photo at Devil's Den
Historic view of the boulders of Devil's Den also shows the western slope of Little Round Top in the distance to the right. Modern view of the boulders of Devil's Den also shows the western slope of Little Round Top in the distance to the right.
This view of Devil's Den also shows the western slope of Little Round Top in the distance to the right. Library of Congress.
This modern view of Devil's Den also shows the western slope of Little Round Top in the distance to the right. NPS Photo.
This view of the boulders of Devil's Den shows the western slope of Little Round Top in the distance to the right. This staged photograph was taken more than four months after the battle, by Peter Weaver, on November 11, 1863 and depicts "dead Confederates" strewn among the rocks of Devil's Den.

William A. Frassanito, Early Photography at Gettysburg (Gettysburg: Thomas Publications, 1995), 294-306.

Last updated: July 29, 2021

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