What are Iverson’s Pits?

On the Gettysburg battlefield, in the shadow of the Oak Ridge Observation Tower just off Doubleday Avenue and not far from the junction between Confederate Avenue and the Mummasberg road, there is an open field of nondescript farmland bordered on one side by a low stone wall. This property, part of the John Forney farm on the eve of the famous battle, would sadly be the site of one of the most brutal and ignominious episodes of the Civil War.
This otherwise nondescript patch of grass on Oak Ridge is where the unsuspecting men of a hapless North Carolina Brigade would meet a horrific fate, and the events of that tragic day would earn that lonely patch of ground a share of infamy that echoes through the years to the present day.

Modern-day visitors to the Gettysburg Battlefield can experience the site firsthand and walk the hallowed field widely famed as a supernatural hot spot.

What Happened at Iverson’s Pits?

Brig Gen Alfred Iverson Jr
Brigadier General Alfred Iverson

On the morning of July 1, 1863, the men of Brigadier General Alfred Iverson’s North Carolina Brigade had only recently arrived at Gettysburg and were tasked to outflank the Union First Corps at Oak Hill, the northernmost point of Seminary Ridge. The Brigade (consisting of the 5th, 12th, 20th, and 23rd North Carolina Infantries) was formed into lines of battle and ordered to advance towards a line of trees about 300 yards away, bordered on their left front by a low stone wall. Their commander Iverson, either through overconfidence or incompetence, failed to deploy an advance line of skirmishers to prevent a potential ambush.

As Iverson’s men advanced towards the enemy, a line of Federal troops concealed behind the nearby stone wall suddenly rose to their feet and poured volley after volley of musket fire into the attackers’ ranks at almost point-blank range. Hundreds of North Carolinians were shot down in straight lines, just as they had marched. Within minutes more than 900 of Iverson’s brigade lay dying in the grass. Those few who could still stand fled the field, leaving their wounded comrades behind.

Through it all, Iverson himself remained safely in the rear. Following the massacre of his brigade, Iverson suffered a nervous breakdown and was relieved of his command. He was thereafter sent home to North Carolina in disgrace and was never again allowed back into combat.
Days after the battle ended, the bodies of the fallen were interred in rows of hastily dug grave trenches — virtually in the same spots where they fell. As time passed the graves settled, visibly marking the field with sunken rows where the trenches had been dug.

Locals dubbed the grim spot “Iverson’s Pits.” For years after, the farmer who owned the ground claimed that the wheat always grew tallest in that part of the field. Many have since claimed that the area is haunted.

The Ghosts of Iverson’s Pits

Ever since the end of the Civil War, there have been tales of spectral figures and unexplained lights haunting the area, even though the bodies had long since been exhumed and returned to the South, during the 1870s. For decades after the battle, the owner of the property claimed that his fearful farmhands, terrorized by ghostly manifestations, refused to remain anywhere near the vicinity after sunset.

The reputed supernatural phenomena at Iverson’s Pits have been documented as far back as the 19th century, making it the oldest reputedly haunted site of the famous battlefield.

Iverson's Pits
Iverson’s Pits as they look today

Map of the Area near Iverson’s Pits

Following is a Google Map showing the location of Iverson’s Pits and other nearby landmarks at Gettysburg National Park:

Iverson’s Pits Map & Nearby Landmarks

Monuments Nearby

In addition to the fascinating history of the famed battlefield itself, a visit to Gettysburg National Park offers the opportunity to see the more than 1,300 monuments on the battlefield. Following is a list of important monuments located in the vicinity of Iverson’s Pits:

  • The Eternal Light Peace Memorial
  • The Monument to the 3rd West Virginia Cavalry
  • 13th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Monument
  • The Battlefield Sallie Memorial
  • The Monument to the 44th New York
  • New Jersey Brigade Monument
  • 97th New York Volunteer Infantry Monument

Visit Iverson’s Pits in Person

Summer is coming! Our bus tours of the historic Gettysburg Battlefield are in full swing. Reservations can be made by calling our toll-free number at 877-680-8687. You can also purchase bus tour tickets online.  Tours depart from the Gettysburg Tour Center located at 778 Baltimore Street across from the National Cemetery.