Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Confederates on Turners Gap!

On July 11-12, 2009 Confederates will occupy Turner’s Gap once more. The Friends of South Mountain are inviting the public to come and interact with living historians portraying Captain John Lane's Battery of artillery and Colonel Alfred Colquitt's Brigade of infantry. Demonstrations, including infantry and artillery drill, cooking and soldier life scenarios, will be held throughout the day both Saturday and Sunday.

Some of the events include: at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, a walking tour leaving from the Dahlgren Chapel will retrace the route of Brigadier General Thomas Drayton’s Brigade to Fox’s Gap and its eventual demise. Also, the Dahlgren Chapel, built in 1881 by Madeleine Dahlgren (wife of Admiral John Dahlgren), will be open for tours from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.

About the Battle of South Mountain Sep. 14, 1862: Spurred by word that Union Major General George B. McClellan had found a copy of Special Order 191, Confederate Major General Daniel H. Hill spent the evening hours of September 13 and early morning hours of September 14 deploying troops on Turner’s and Fox’s Gap. At nearly 9:00 a.m. on September 14, 1862, Maryland’s first major battle of the Civil War began on Fox’s Gap when Confederate Brigadier General Samuel Garland’s Brigade of North Carolinians met Union Brigadier General Jacob Cox’s Kanawha Division. Fighting soon escalated and spread north to Frostown and Turner’s Gap and south to the Brownsville Pass and Crampton’s Gap. As combat closed with nightfall, more than 6,000 Union and Confederate soldiers had been killed or wounded. Confederate Major General Robert E. Lee ordered his outnumbered forces off South Mountain and in the direction of Sharpsburg.

During the battle, Turner’s Gap was a Confederate stronghold and was used as Hill’s headquarters, as a staging area for Confederate reinforcements going to Fox’s and the Frostown Gap, and as an artillery position. Notwithstanding a frontal Union assault until about 5:00 p.m., Colquitt’s Brigade waited nervously at the base of Turner’s Gap for the approach of Brigadier General John Gibbon’s Brigade (later to become known as the Iron Brigade). As nightfall approached, the evening’s hard fighting began to tell on the Confederate soldiers. With the Confederates retiring to the summit, Gibbon was left in command of the gap.

The Confederates on Turner’s Gap event site will be located off of Alternate Route 40 on Turner’s Gap, next to the Dahlgren Chapel. From Boonsboro, take Alt. 40 for about 2 miles and turn left onto Washington Monument Road, then an immediate right into the Dahlgren Chapel parking lot.

All programs and events are free and open to the public. For more information call (301) 432-8065 or visit

South Mountain State Battlefield is Maryland's FIRST State Battlefield Park. For additional information about South Mountain State Park visit

South Mountain State Battlefield is a member of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more information about Washington County's 8 state parks and 5 national parks, see: Washington County is part of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, and the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. For more information see: and also

For more information about Maryland's role in the Civil War, see:

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