Visiting The Battlefield
Although battlefield preservation is ongoing, nearly two-thirds of the battlefield remain privately owned. Because of this, please respect the property rights and privacy of our friends and neighbors when visiting and touring the battlefield.
Here are some points of interest when touring South Mountain State Battlefield:
Washington Monument State Park
The Washington Monument Visitors Center features exhibits discussing the history of the first completed monument to honor George Washington, a summary of the 1862 Maryland Campaign, and a fiber-optic map presenting an overview of the Battle of South Mountain. The monument was also used as a Union signal station during the Civil War.
A major thoroughfare in the area during the Civil War, the National Road crosses the mountain here, at one of the three major gaps involved in the battle. The Mountain House (South Mountain Inn) hugs the road and was a focal point during the battle. Wayside exhibits explain the battle around the gap.
Wayside exhibits discuss the battle in this area. Monuments dedicated to the men who fought here include two devoted to generals killed during the battle: Union Major General Jesse Reno, commander of the Ninth Army Corps, and Confederate Brigadier General Samuel Garland, commander of a North Carolina brigade.
Crampton’s Gap (Gathland State Park)
Two museums explore the literary career of George Alfred Townsend and War Correspondents, and the Battle of South Mountain. Interpretive wayside exhibits highlight points of interest from the battle. The War Correspondents Memorial, constructed by Townsend after the war, stands at the park entrance.
Hiking the Battlefield
For those interested in “walking in the footsteps of Civil War soldiers” there are a couple of options available:
Battle of Crampton’s Gap Interpretive Trail – Located at Gathland State Park on the mountainside below (east) of the War Correspondents Memorial. Interpretive waysides along the trail explain the late afternoon fighting at Crampton’s Gap, as Howell Cobb’s brigade tried to stop the Union advance up the mountain. Length – about .6 miles.
Historic Road Trace between Turner’s and Fox’s Gaps (Appalachian Trail) – Today the Appalachian Trail between the South Mountain Inn at Turner’s Gap and Reno Monument Road at Fox’s Gap follows the trace of a road that was in existence at the time of the battle. Early on the morning of September 14, Confederate General D. H. Hill used this road for his reconnaissance from Turner’s Gap towards Fox’s Gap. Later, during the battle, the road was used by thousands of Confederate troops sent to defend Fox’s Gap.
Each year the battlefield holds interpretive events that discuss the battle. These include Ranger led hikes and tours and living history programs. For more information about annual programs call 301-791-4767.