Yesterday, fellow ranger and fellow blogger Mannie Gentile and I took a short trip up to South Moutain, an excursion we planned last week. What a perfect day weatherwise to tramp around some Civil War battlefields! It was rather cool and blue skies overhead.
I met Mannie in Boonsboro and we followed one another to Turner's Gap. The plan was to leave one vehicle there, while we hopped in the other, drove down to Fox's Gap and hiked back to the Appalachian Trail parking lot at Turner's. So I left my car--and jumped in his.
We reached Fox's Gap and journeyed first to the Reno Monument on the summit. . .
Major General Jesse Reno, commanding the Federal 9th Corps, was struck down near twilight on September 14, 1862, while encouraging his men to advance. . .There is some whispers still persisting that Reno was shot by friendly fire, but most today discount this idea.
Mannie and I next hiked several hundred yards to the south, and visited the recently dedicated (October 2003) monument to North Carolina soldiers. . .
North Carolinians in Brigadier Generals Samuel Garland's and George B. Anderson's Brigades were heavily engaged at the battle for Fox's Gap, suffering high casualties.
Turning around we hiked across the very same ground as the soldiers in the 48th PA, all the while I was explaining their movements and experiences (ad naseaum) to Mannie. . .who was, as always, a good sport about it. The photograph below is of the field over which the 48th advanced.
Captain James Wren, of Company B, led his men as skirmishers across this field and upon reaching the distant treeline, came under fire from Confederate soldiers in John Bell Hood's division.
We hiked along the Appalachian Trail, northward back to Turner's Gap, and my vehicle. I was struck at just how sheer the slopes of South Mountain are here, and found it difficult to imagine troops manuevering along these slopes and through the trees.
As Joe Hooker, commanding the Federal 1st Corps in its attacks up South Mountain and toward Frostown Gap, wrote: "In front of us was South Mountain, the crest of the spinal ridge of which was held by the enemy in considerable force. Its slopes are precipitous, rugged, and wooded, and difficult of ascent to an infantry force, even in absence of a foe in front."
Here's my colleague Mannie atop the very spine of South Mountain.
We at last arrived back at Turner's Gap and I grabbed a quick photograph of the Old South Mountain Inn/Mountain House, where Confederate general D.H. Hill made his headquarters.
We then hopped back in my car and. . .after a little setback driving toward Middletown, don't ask. . .we headed on down to Crampton's Gap and to Burkittsville, where the 48th's Schuylkill County neighbors in the 96th Pennsylvania were heavily engaged. . .