The Slaughter Pen

Gettysburg
The Second Day

The Slaughter Pen

Known after the battle as the Slaughter Pen, both Confederate and Union soldiers met their deaths among the rocks and boulders in this area of the Plum Run valley at the base of Big Round Top.

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Sergeant Valerius Giles of the 4th Texas Infantry, Gibbon’s Brigade: “The side of the mountain was heavily timbered and covered with great boulders that had tumbled down from the cliffs above years before. These afforded great protection to the men.  Every tree, rock and stump that gave any protection from the rain of Minie balls that were poured down upon us from the crest above us, was soon appropriated.  John Griffith and myself pre-empted a moss-covered old boulder about the size of a 500-pound cotton bale. By this time order and discipline were gone.  Every fellow was his own general. Private soldiers gave commands as loud as the officers.  Nobody paid attention to either.” -- Giles’ memoirs, Rags and Hope: The Recollections of Val C. Giles, Four Years with Hood’s Brigade, edited by Mary Lasswell, as quoted in Voices of the Civil War: Gettysburg, page 81

Captain James Smith, commanding the 4th New York Battery: “I used case shot upon the advancing column until it entered the woods, when I fired shell until they emerged from the woods on my left flank, in line of battle 300 yards distant; then I used canister with little effect, owing to numerous large rocks, which afforded excellent protection to their sharpshooters.” -- Smith’s battle report, in War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, series I, volume 27, part 1, page 588

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Fine Art Photography of Civil War Battlefields by Dan Jenkins