Return to Devil’s Den

I visit Gettysburg often, and, as people who know me can tell you, I like to spend a lot of time around Little Round Top and the ground west of it, including the Wheatfield, the Rose farm, and Devil’s Den.  Among the locations I would visit was a monument to James E. Smith’s 4th New York Battery, which stood astride a ridge by Devil’s Den, a short walk from the sharpshooter’s rest and facing the Triangular Field.  Two sections of the battery were located there, while a third section was located just east of the Wheatfield and west of the park road (Crawford Avenue) that ran north and south at the western base of Little Round Top … a location sometimes known as the Valley of Death.

That terrain’s changed a great deal over time due in part to the NPS terrain restoration program, which seeks as much as possible to restore battlefield vegetation, fence lines, and fields to their 1863 appearance (while making concessions for park roads and monuments).  Some changes happen due to repairs: for several years the artillery pieces near Crawford Avenue were not in place.  Finally, some changes were due to vandalism, including some serious damage to the monument to Smith’s battery.

I’m glad to report that both the cannon and the statue have been restored.

By the way, I find Gettysburg Daily a wonderful website for those of us who want to keep up with the evolution of the Gettysburg battlefield and various aspects of the campaign.  The site’s author is a mystery to some, not to others, and I’ll leave it that way.

A Question of Accountability

Many of you will recall last year’s controversy about a Virginia history textbook that was found to contain several serious inaccurate statements.  The publisher, Five Ponds Press (a Connecticut firm), has learned from the affair: it will no longer submit its proposed science texts for review by the Virginia board of education, although it claims that its books meet state standards.  Instead, it will market its books directly to districts.  Perhaps the publisher’s best chance for adoption lies in the fact that its product is less expensive than the product provided by the competition.

To which I say: remember the Yugo.  In this case, you get what you pay for.  Clearly this is a case where a publisher is afraid to stand by its product or subject its own claims to external inspection.