Nov 16

The cannon tubes for the detached section of Captain James Smith’s 4th New York Independent Battery were placed in the Valley of Death/Plum Run Valley last month. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

The cannon tubes for the detached section of Captain James Smith’s 4th New York Independent Battery were placed in the Valley of Death/Plum Run Valley last month.

To see previous entries on Smith’s 4th New York Battery:

Devil’s Den and Wheatfield Waysides on March 3, 2008

Smith’s New York Battery Monument Still Awaits Restoration on May 31, 2008.

Benning’s Brigade Battle Walk on July 28, 2008

Gettysburg Rock Carvings 3 with Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Tim Smith on August 5, 2009

Licensed Battlefield Guide Bill Dowling: Gettysburg Photography Part 1 on July 5, 2010

Smith’s New York Battery Monument and 11th Massachusetts: Five Years Later on February 16, 2011.

140 Places Every Guide Should Know Part 13: Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Fred Hawthorne on April 18, 2011

Plum Run Valley Vegetation on September 8, 2011

Smith’s 4th NY Restoration at the Gettysburg National Military Park Monument Shop: Part 1 on October 27, 2011

Smith’s 4th NY Restoration at the Gettysburg National Military Park Monument Shop: Part 2 on October 28, 2011

This map shows where Smith’s 4th New York Battery was located on July 2, 1863 in the area of Devil’s Den/Houck’s Ridge and the Valley of Death/Plum Run Valley. The star with the #2 shows the location of the two detached guns of Smith’s Battery in the Valley of Death featured in this post. They were facing mostly south. Star #4 shows where the other four guns were located on top of Devil’s Den/Houck’s Ridge. They were facing mostly to the west. This map was created facing north at approximately 7:00 PM on Wednesday, November 2, 2011.

Here is how this position looked after the carriages without the tubes were placed here in August. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 7:15 PM on Thursday, August 4, 2011.

Here is how this location looked after the artillery pieces were first placed here at the beginning of the last century. This image is titled “Section, Fourth New York Battery, Crawford Avenue.” The location is Plum Run Valley, or the Valley of Death. The 1900 commission report states under the heading “Positions of Troops and Batteries Established and Marked” that “The section of Smith’s New York battery on Crawford avenue in Plum Run Valley has been marked by two 10-pounder Parrotts mounted on iron gun carriages and by a monumental tablet with an appropriate inscription.” (Gettysburg National Military Park Commission Reports page 60). This photograph was taken facing southwest circa 1900. Annual Reports of the Gettysburg National Military Park Commission to the Secretary of War, 1893-1904. Washington. Government Printing Office, 1905.

Again, here’s what this location looks like today. This view was taken facing facing southeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

Notice how the diamond at the top of the marker has been left black today, but that this symbol of the Third Army Corps was painted white in the 1900 view. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

The pile of artillery shells shown in the 1900 view are also not visible today on this slab of concrete/granite. But of course they are gone from over 90% of the artillery pieces on the field today. Little Round Top is in the background. Part of Big Round Top is visible in the right background. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

Both the artillery pieces still have their concrete/granite slabs for the artillery rounds that will probably never again appear on the battlefield. Of course during the battle, most of the ammunition was kept in limbers and caissons, not piled up on the ground beside the cannon. Munshower Hill is in the left background. The north slope of Little Round Top is in the center and right background. This view was taken facing east at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

The carriages are reproductions, and so are the artillery pieces. This view was taken facing north at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

The carriages are now all metal. Anything painted green would have been wooden at the time of the Civil War, and anything painted black would have been iron. This view was taken facing north at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

The artillery tubes are good reproductions, and the grooves/rifling inside the barrel more detailed than some we have seen on the field. There is an obvious feature that shows the tube is a reproduction, however– the lack of writing on the muzzle showing the gun number, initials of the inspector, year made, weight of the tube, etc… The barrels also have the plugs in them to keep visitors from filling them up with trash and the birds from filling them up with nests. This view was taken facing north at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

Devil’s Den/Houck’s Ridge is in the right background. Confederates emerging from the Plum Run Gorge/Slaughter Pen area would be the target of these guns. Captain James Smith of the 4th New York Artillery says in his official report of July 20, 1863: “I placed two sections of my battery on a hill (near the Devil’s Cave) on the left of General Birney’s line, leaving one section, together with caissons and horses, 150 yards in the rear.” (Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volume 27, Part 1, page 588.) This view was taken facing south at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

Later in his report, after Captain Smith writes that Union infantry had advanced in front of the four artillery pieces on Houck’s Ridge/Devil’s Den, he came back to this area. Smith wrote: “I then went to the rear, and opened that section of guns, firing obliquely through the gully, and doing good execution.” (Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Volume 27, Part 1, page 589.) Houck’s Ridge is in the background. This view was taken facing west at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

In his post-war book, A Famous Battery and Its Campaigns, 1861-1864… Captain James Smith comments on his official report of the Battle of Gettysburg and says in a note: “Benning’s Brigade had made the passage of the gorge before the 40th New York volunteers reached the ground. The two pieces of Smith’s Battery had been briskly engaged in pouring canister into the head column of these troops as they emerged from the gorge near Devil’s Den. After this Benning formed his line between Little Round Top and Devil’s Den, and then the 6th New Jersey and 40th New York Volunteers attacked them.” (page 118) The gray colored monument to the 6th New Jersey is visible in the right background. This view was taken facing south at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.

When Smith ordered his battery to retreat, the two guns located here, and one on Devil’s Den/Houck’s Ridge were able to retreat. Three guns on Devil’s Den/Houck’s Ridge were captured. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 4:30 PM on Tuesday, November 1, 2011.
Although the book title is somewhat misleading, this is the History of the 4th New York Independent Battery, written by Captain James Smith.


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