Hampton's Battery Rock at Gettysburg

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Gettysburg Greg

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hampton combo.jpg


Sitting in the corner of a field just a few hundred feet south of the Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg is a large distinctive boulder that appears to be a rock on top of a rock. This seldom seen landmark was literally a life saver for the men of Hampton's Independent Light Artillery Battery F on July 3rd, 1863. During the Confederate artillery barrage preceding Pickett's Charge, several men from Hampton's Battery were wounded and taken behind this rock for protection from the continuing Confederate barrage. Veterans of the battery returning to the battlefield found the boulder and dubbed it as Hampton's Battery Rock as it has been known as ever since. Here is a photo I took of the boulder last September along with a period shot of veterans posing on the rock in 1889.
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Wallyfish

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Nov 26, 2015
Location
Greensburg, Pa
Coming from a Gettysburg fanatic, I am very happy to view this post in the Gettysburg Forum.

Back to Hampton Rock. This rock used to be hidden in the thickets buried in the woods. As you can see from Greg's now photo, it is in a wide open area just a short walk from the Pa monument. The Hampton Rock is an excellent start into Then and now photography.

Some people call this the "Shelter Rock". I even heard one person called this rock the "Pittsburgh Battery Rock" as this battery was mustered from the Pittsburgh , Pa area. They have a monument in East Park on Pittsburgh's North side.

Interesting YouTube video on Hampton's Rock "finders". It is amazing that this rock was hidden for so many years (similar to the Rose Farm Split Rock). The NPS battlefield rehabilitation work has allowed us to easily see these rocks today.

 
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eBrowne

Private
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Jan 12, 2016
I don't think the photo of the two veterans sitting on Hampton's Battery Rock is actually in Clark's history of that battery.
Perhaps I'm wrong and someone can enlighten me. It would also be interesting to know what was in the collection of Samuel Creese. (The photo came from Creese, as mentioned in the video.) Although Creese was at Gettysburg, he was serving on detached duty with Battery H 1st Ohio Light. Twenty-four men had been detached from Hampton's Battery to serve with Battery H. Creese most likely served in Battery H's left section under Lt. William Ewing. That battery was posted on Cemetery Hill, arriving there on July 2. Lt. Ewing would write a newspaper account of the Gettysburg battle. I wonder if Creese left any Gettysburg account. Probably Creese only learned of Hampton's Rock either later in the war or at a Veteran's meeting.
 
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Tom Elmore

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From June 3, 1863 until March 25, 1864 (per the monument in the Peach Orchard) it was known as C and F, Pennsylvania Independent Battery - a consolidation of Batteries C and F. Both batteries eventually recruited sufficient men to become separate units again. At Gettysburg it was led by the senior officer, Capt. James Thompson (of C), although Capt. Nathaniel Irish (of F) was also present (as an aide to McGilvery) during the battle, in which both men were wounded. (Irish was an 1862 graduate of Norwich University, which had a military curriculum - very rare for the North). On July 2, one gun was lost to the Confederates. Casper Carlisle (of F) was awarded the Medal of Honor for helping Capt. Thompson get a second gun away that otherwise would have been captured as well.

I have found three excellent accounts of the battle from battery members (but none mention the now famous boulder):
-A letter from John C. Shaler to his sister, from the Civil War Library and Museum in Philadelphia.
-The manuscript diary of Lt. Joseph B. Todd (of F) - Todd was wounded on July 3.
-Unidentified author (probably James Thompson) of a letter dated October 3, 1898.
 

eBrowne

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So who were the wounded and killed that were sheltered behind this rock? The plaque by the PA monument lists seven men "On this field the following members fell". It then goes on to state "and eleven men were wounded". However William Clark's book on the battery gives conflicting information and dates. Curiously not all the men who "fell" even died at Gettysburg.

Of the seven men who fell...
Hugh Purdy- July 3
Jacob Keirch (but he was killed on Cemetery Hill while serving with Battery H)
Adam Rath- July 3
Charles Bright- accidentally killed at Boonsboro
John Herbert - died after the war, presumably from wound at Gettysburg
Joseph Todd - wounded July 2 or 3, died March 6, 1865
Joseph Miller - wounded July 2 or 3, d. Aug. 8 or 9, 1863
(So it looks like Purdy and Rath might have been the dead who were sheltered.)

The book lists 24 men during the war who were wounded.
Of the eleven wounded, these were the ones that were stated (or known) as wounded at Gettysburg.
N. Irish-July 2 or 3
Ritchie- but wounded while serving with Battery H
Weyman- July 3
Isaiah Becker - July 2
(So perhaps Weyman and ???????)

Anyone have more information?
 
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eBrowne

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http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016187/1891-02-05/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1789&index=2&date2=1924&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&lccn=sn82016187&words=batteries+Battery+Gettysburg+Hampton&proxdistance=5&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=&phrasetext=hampton's+battery&andtext=+gettysburg&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1

This should take you to a National Tribune article written by Samuel Creese. From the article you would expect that he had first hand knowledge of the gun arrangements in the Peach Orchard but this not true as he was with Battery H in the Cemetery on detached duty.
The National tribune., February 05, 1891, Page 3, Image 3
 

Tom Elmore

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John C. Shaler wrote that "Capt. Irish, Lt. Miller, Lt. [then Sergeant] Todd and several privates were wounded" on July 3.

Identified casualties, from compilation of above listed primary sources, Clark's history, and Union Casualties at Gettysburg:

Captain Nathaniel Irish (F) - wounded July 3 [Clark has July 2]
Captain James Thompson (C) - wounded in head July 3
1st Lieutenant James Stephenson (C) - slightly wounded July 2
2nd Lieutenant Robert C. Hazlett (C) - wounded July 2
2nd Lieutenant Joseph L. Miller (F) - mortally wounded July 3, died August 8 or 9
First Sergeant George Ritchie (F) - wounded July 2
Sergeant Joseph B. Todd (F) - wounded July 3
Corporal Isaiah K. Becker (F) - wounded July 2
Private Absalom Link (C) - mortally wounded in left thigh July 2, died July 13
Private Peter Low (presumed C) - captured July 2
Private Jacob Karsh (F) - killed July 3
Private James Marshall (presumed C) - captured July 2
Private Edward O'Donnel (C) - wounded July 2
Private Hugh Purdy (probably F) - mortally wounded right thigh July 3, died September 11
Private Adam Rath (F) - killed July 3
Private Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Weyman (F) - wounded July 3
Total: 2 killed, 12 wounded (3 mortally), 2 captured

[The Peach Orchard monument shows: Died of wounds: 1 man, Wounded: 3 officers, 7 men, Missing: 3 men] However, Capt. Irish may not be counted as a member of the battery, and Lt. Stephenson's slight wound was probably discounted as well.
 
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eBrowne

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http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016187/1901-07-18/ed-1/seq-3/#date1=1789&index=6&date2=1924&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&lccn=sn82016187&words=Battery+Gettysburg+Hampton&proxdistance=5&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=&phrasetext=hampton's+battery&andtext=+gettysburg&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1
Here is another National Tribune article on Hampton's battery. From the article, one would assume that the writer was wounded at Gettysburg but that is not stated in William Clark's book and therefore a false assumption.

The National tribune., July 18, 1901, Page 3, Image 3
 
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eBrowne

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Jacob Keirsh is listed on the monument to Hampton's Battery. He was killed while serving with Battery H 1st Ohio, but here is an interesting account that mentions him. Keirsh is buried in the National Cemetery at Gettysburg.
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82016187/1890-04-03/ed-1/seq-4/#date1=1789&index=7&date2=1924&searchType=advanced&language=&sequence=0&lccn=sn82016187&words=Battery+Gettysburg+Hampton&proxdistance=5&rows=20&ortext=&proxtext=&phrasetext=hamptons+battery&andtext=gettysburg&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1
The National tribune., April 03, 1890, Page 4, Image 4
 

eBrowne

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Lt. William Ewing reported the death of Jacob Keirsh as occurring during the evening of July 2.
"For three mortal hours the iron storm was howling around and over us, while upon the extreme left the incessant roar of musketry added its rolling, muttering voice to increase the general din and horrid, terrible grandeur of the battle. - This could not last long without casualties, and while standing between the two left guns of the battery, I saw a 20-pound Parrott shell strike one of our men at the left piece in the calf of the leg, completely severing the limb and destroying the piece; two hours after, Jacob Kirsch said 'Tell the boys I died doing my duty,' and breathed his last; he was from Pittsburgh, Pa., being one of twenty-four men of 'Hampton's' Pittsburgh Battery, who are detailed for temporary duty with Huntington's Battery..."
In the same article, but for July 3, Ewing reported "During the day Sergt Ritchie, of Pittsburg, was severely wounded by a musket ball..." Wanderer (Lt. Ewing, Toledo Blade, July 18, 1863

Ewing would write a letter to his mother on July 4. Describing the battle of July 2, "I had command of the left section (mostly Pittsburgh men.) One of my men lost a leg and has since died..." (This would have been Jacob Keirsh.)
For July 3 "Sergt. Ritchie from Pittsburgh, of my section, was shot in the abdomen by a musket ball..." (Ewing was being polite for a minie-ball had severed the tip of Ritchie's penis.) . William A. Ewing, Toledo Blade, July 11, 1863.
 
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Claude Bauer

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Sitting in the corner of a field just a few hundred feet south of the Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg is a large distinctive boulder that appears to be a rock on top of a rock. This seldom seen landmark was literally a life saver for the men of Hampton's Independent Light Artillery Battery F on July 3rd, 1863. During the Confederate artillery barrage preceding Pickett's Charge, several men from Hampton's Battery were wounded and taken behind this rock for protection from the continuing Confederate barrage. Veterans of the battery returning to the battlefield found the boulder and dubbed it as Hampton's Battery Rock as it has been known as ever since. Here is a photo I took of the boulder last September along with a period shot of veterans posing on the rock in 1889.
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Every time I do an event at Gettysburg by the PA monument, I have my image struck at Hampton’s Battery Rock, which is next to the campsite. There still is no marker there and the area around it is becoming overgrown. They used to keep it mowed around there, but it's very dense with grass and weeds and soggy there now.

Hampton Battery Rock.JPG
 
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Legion Para

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View attachment 205296

Every time I do an event at Gettysburg by the PA monument, I have my image struck at Hampton’s Battery Rock, which is next to the campsite. There still is no marker there and the area around it is becoming overgrown. They used to keep it mowed around there, but it's very dense with grass and weeds and soggy there now.

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Kip124thNY

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Jun 2, 2016
Wallyfish you are correct, a number of years ago Hampton's Battery Rock was hidden. If my memory serves me right,a couple of years ago it was "rediscovered" by two battle field explorers and they posted their find on You Tube. Thanks Gettysburg Greg for posting.
 
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