Sunday, March 20, 2011
John Hoptak: Mountain Man
Yesterday 38 enthusiasts joined John Hoptak up on South Mountain for a two-hour tour of the Crampton's Gap Battlefield. South Mountain, an important battle in Lee's 1862 Maryland campaign, has long been overlooked by Civil War publishers. With the recent release of John's newest book The Battle of South Mountain, this critical fight finally gets its due. John has filled a gap in the knowledge base of the campaign and has quickly become the "go-to guy" on all things South Mountain.
The weather was crisp and perfect on this day before the first day of Spring as we rallied at Gathland State Park in the shadow of the War Correspondents arch. Following John's intro and overview we piled into vehicles and caravanned to our first stop.
John outlines the Confederate defenses far to our front at the base of South Mountain from the front yard of the Martin Shafer house, sixth Corps headquarters, from which General William B. Franklin directed operations. The house is on the Jefferson Pike, One mile east of Burkittsville.
The tour proceeds to the village of Burkittsville. Cramptons Gap, our destination, looms in the distance.
No Blair witch sightings were made during the course of our time in and around Burkittsville (yes, it's that Burkittsville).
This is the panorama looking north from the cemetery in Burkittsville along the Middletown Road. The treeline in the distance was the right flank of the Union attack. Picture the road as the Union battleline which would sweep left toward the South Mountain.
Author, historian and fellow blogger, J.D. Petruzzi takes in the vista.
John leads us over Route of the 4th Vermont through the David Arnold Farm. Confederate defenders were swept from the field in the distance and made their pell mell scramble of retreat up the mountain with the Yankees in hot pursuit.
The details are all contained here, in John's newest book. A definitive account of the battle which will fill a conspicuous gap in any Antietam Campaign bookshelf.
I'm proud to have John as a colleague and friend.
Happy Spring everybody!