Sunday, May 22, 2011

More Gettysburg hidden history

The diamond-shaped insignia of the Union 3rd Corps is carved into the small
boulder  to the right of the 40th New York monument in the "Valley of Death"
 at Gettysburg. The monument is about 20 yards from Sickles Avenue.
If you don't mind fending off ticks and slogging your way through a muddy field or woodlot, you can find pieces of history that most don't see at Gettysburg.

The diamond-shaped carving is
easy to find on this boulder near the
 40th New York monument. 
As I wrote in this post earlier this month, soldiers and long-ago visitors to the battlefield left their mark in many ways -- including carvings on monuments, rocks, barns and who knows what else. One man's graffiti is another man's important historical treasure, right? (Dinosaurs, really long-ago visitors, also left their mark at Gettysburg. But this is a Civil War blog, so we'll skip pointing out where to find footprints of T-Rex and friends.)

To find these quirky bits of Civil War history, you just need to know where to look. Or you could simply ask a very knowledgeable park volunteer or buy J. David Petruzzi's outstanding book "The Complete Gettysburg Guide," which provides an excellent road map. A great resource for the Civil War novice or expert, you can get it online for about 30 bucks.

After the Civil War, an  "X" was carved into the upper right of this boulder
 in Rose's Woods by  John R. Brooke, a Union colonel. 
The carvings I didn't cover in my earlier post are fairly easy to find. On a small boulder several feet from the 40th New York Infantry monument in the "Valley of Death," you can find the diamond-shaped insignia of the Union 3rd Corps. The monument was dedicated in 1888, and Petruzzi speculates in his book that the diamond was carved by a veteran or veterans of the 40th New York. "40th" is supposed to be carved into the rock, above the diamond, but I couldn't find it. 
Trust me, an "X" was carved into this rock by
 John R. Brooke,  a Union colonel. The big "X"
 was caused by Mother Nature.

I gave up several pints of blood (thanks, ticks) to find a very faintly carved "X" on the John R. Brooke Rock in Rose's Woods. Yes, you need to be a little off to do this. Or, at the very least, have a can of Off! Brooke, a colonel in the Union army, apparently carved an "X" in the rock during a post-war visit to mark his position during the battle. Brooke needed a better carving instrument, because his "X" is obscured by an "X" created by Mother Nature.

Thankfully, the last piece of hidden history was in a tick-free zone. Just off the road on Culp's Hill and behind the 149th New York Infantry monument, long-ago scoundrels carved their names and the year "1888." J.E. Thompson and his pals would have been fined and their names entered on the police blotter if they were caught doing that today.

On a  boulder behind the 149th New York Infantry monument on Culp's Hill,
 long-ago visitors  to Gettysburg left their mark (below).


  1. Anonymous8:25 AM

    Did you know that there is an actual Gettysburg boulder in the small town of Lisbon, Iowa?

  2. Anonymous8:06 PM

    how did it get there, Payton? My wife is from Dows, Iowa. John Banks

  3. There is also a hidden marker just before you get to Devil's Den. It is about 60 yards or so from the NY monument (don't remember which one but it is on the road to Devil's Den, just before the intersection to the parking lot.) Anyway, the marker marks the location of the NJ artillery. My son and I spent a good 20 or so minutes today in the cold and snow looking for it. It's off by itself and covered with lichen and is barely legible now.