Today was our last day here at Gettysburg. It was a little dreary ,foggy for the morning but brighten up in the afternoon, with it being about 77 today. Tomorrow we leave here for a few one night hops. Our next stay longer than one night will be in Anderson South Carolina. Today I have two short stories about the battle.
Smith’s Artillery battery at Devil’s Den.
In the picture below, taken from little round top, shows the devil den area. Around noon on July 2nd, Smith had four of his six cannon atop the devils den. Also there were several hundred union infantry men. The other two cannon of his were in the low field off to the right of the picture. When the confederates attacked they over ran the devil’s den and were able to capture three of Smith’s guns, with the fourth being able to be with drawn to where the other two were. Soon the confederates were coming over the little hill to the soon to be called valley of death. With out any horses to move his remaining three cannon, he and his men decided to “retreat in prolong”. What does that men. Well when a cannon is fired it recoils about six to eight feet backwards, then moved back to position . In retreat in Prolong, it stays where it is and loaded and fired time and time again, all the while moving backward. Smith did this for over an hour, retreating over two hundred yards or so, back to the safety of a tree line. In doing this he denied the confederates, the lower part of the hill. All the while his men were being shot at , killed or wounded.
Smiths cannon are the little green spot as the road enters the picture on the right side. He fired right to left into devils den and his cannon retreated to the right out of view.
Smith’s artillery position as he started his retreat, is in the picture above. He fired at the top of the hill in front of him, while infantry men we in the lower part where the road is. In the late afternoon, the union took the hill and his three captured cannon were saved.
Sergeant Stouch Returns To Gettysburg.
In the picture above a little ways in front of Smith’s cannon, is a small boulder, it looks like many of the other ones around, but what a story it can tell. On July 2nd the 11th United States infantry was atop ,the devil’s den area. When the confederates attached in force, and unwilling to race away from danger, most of the men stood there ground or retreated slowly down into the valley. The confederates raced into the valley after them. One man who refused to leave a wounded man behind was Sergeant Stouch. Stouch and the wounded man were ordered by the confederates to go behind a rock boulder, so as to not be shot by there own men atop little round top. In a minute or two , rebel sharpshooters shot at them from there position atop devils den. What to do being shot at from both sides, so they moved around the boulder a few times. Two other union soldiers joined Stouch at his little rock area. Soon bullets were hitting the rock. Finally with the rebel soldiers leaving, they stayed behind the rock that faced toward the union. That was not enough, one man was shot in the face, one shot in the thigh and Slouch shot in the hand. Finally around 6pm the union charged down the slope of little round top and recaptured Slouch, his men and devils den. He was taken to the hospital, where they wanted to amputate his hand, he refused. A week later he had his hand operated on ,and it took 14 months to heal.
On July 2nd 1886 Slouch returned to Gettysburg and had his picture taken at the rock that saved his life. On the back of the photo is written “This photo was taken about 4pm ,the 2nd of July 1886, the 23rd anniversary of the battle”. The photo is of Stouch ,leaning on the right side, his wife, son and daughter .
As I mentioned this cold gray boulder sits quietly and mostly unnoticed in the “Valley of Death