Friday, April 07, 2006

Fire on the Mountain:

Last month I took a trip up to Fox's Gap to try and get a handle on that portion of the Battle of South Mountain. Unlike most other Civil War battlefields which are characterized by a fairly defined area, the action at South Mountain ranged across many miles of rugged mountain ridgeline, fields, and forest.

Although a Union victory, the battle of South Mountain was also an important achievement for the outnumbered Confederates who managed to hold off the Federal forces long enough to expend much of Union general McClellan's forward momentum toward Sharpsburg.

As a prelude to the Battle of Antietam, the action on South Mountain is often overlooked, as are the sites of the battle: Turner's, Fox's, and Crampton's Gaps. These images were made on a sunny morning in early March up in Fox's Gap.

This monument marks the place where Union General Reno was killed on Sept. 14, 1862 in the action at Fox's Gap

The rugged terrain of the mountain's crest. Imagine fighting here wearing the smooth-soled shoes of the typical Civil War soldier!

The Confederate's view from the top of the mountain with Catoctin mountin in the distance. Frederick Maryland lies in the valley between.

Being from Michigan, my eye was caught by a typical State of Michigan roadside historical marker here in Maryland. This one commorates the South Mountain participation of the 17th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment, part of the Ninth Corps. Three days after the action on South Mountain the Ninth Corps would be stymied for many hours at Burnside's Bridge in the final phase of the Antietam battle.

A walk down a trail at Fox's Gap is rewarded by this monument to North Carolina troops in a beautiful setting.

The good Folks at the Central Maryland Heritage League (working with the National Park Service) have done heroic work to preserve the battlefields of South Mountain and have also produced a fine interpretive brochure with the title "Fire on the Mountain: The Battle of South Mountain". The brochure provides
essential narrative and lots of background information on the action. It includes a map of the tour route to the various sites.

Note: Although this region is a beautiful one to get lost in, I'd advise anyone making the tour to back up the brochure map with an accurate county map, the roads and lanes of this Washington County sometime seem to have minds of their own.

1 comment:

Joshua Vincent said...

Hi there - Your description was very helpful. This Memorial Day (2006),we are going to see the battlefield where my great (3x) uncle was killed while serving at Fox's Gap with the 17th Michigan.

After that, we're going to his graveside in Sharpsburg