South Mountain in Miniature
The Battle of South Mountain was a integral part of the Maryland Campaign, yet it receives little attention from authors, writers, and tourists. Located within a 2 and a half hour drive from York, the battlefield consists of three distinct sections, from north to south being Turner’s Gap, Fox’s Gap, and Crampton’s Gap. D.H. Hill’s Division of Confederates, assisted by parts of Longstreet’s Corps, held off the Union I, VI, and IX Corps for all day on September 14, 1862, blocking the mountain passes and keeping McClellan from attacking Lee’s weak force until September 17 (Antietam).
The South Mountain battlefields are pristine and well worth a one-tank trip from York County. There is no admission charge, and the visitors center at Turner’s Gap (off of Alt U.S. 40, an easy jaunt from I-70) has an excellent brochure and map entitled Fire on the Mountain. Be sure to take a meal at the Mountain House, which served as Hill’s HQ for a part of the battle. Also nearby is the Washington Monument, well worth a visit while you are on South Mountain. This tower predates the more famous memorial by the same name in Washington DC.
Gathland State Park (which encompasses a portion of the Fox’s Gap battlefield) is a nice park with excellent hiking trails and sweeping vistas of Pleasant Valley and the Cumberland Valley. be sure to see the Reno marker and the new Garland monument, honoring two generals who perished in the fighting on South Mountain.
To see photographs of my wargaming layout of the fights at Fox’s Gap and Turner’s Gap, please visit my Charge! wargaming blog.