South Mountain State Battlefield Gains National Register Of Historic Places Status
Boonsboro, Md. (February 22, 2011) — South Mountain State Battlefield is now part of the National Register of Historic Places. Officials received confirmation last week that the park would be featured on the National Park Service’s list of sites, buildings and objects significant in American history, archeology and engineering.
“We are grateful to the Friends of South Mountain State Battlefield, who initiated the effort to place the State Park on the National Historic Register,” said Maryland State Parks Superintendent Nita Settina. “This news comes just in time for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, further raising public awareness of the context and dramatic events that led to the Battlefield’s historic significance.”
The Friends of the South Mountain State Battlefield in partnership with State Battlefield staff first applied in 2007. Placing the battlefield on the National Register of Historic Places is a huge step in an ongoing preservation effort. The National Register of Historic Places opens up many grant opportunities that are currently unavailable to both the friends group and the State park itself.
Battlefield neighbors who live within the designated districts will be encouraged (but not required) to maintain their properties in a manner that best reflects the landscape’s appearance as it existed in September 1862. Being on the list may open up some financial benefits for the landowners especially for those looking for grants and/or tax credits to maintain their properties. It will neither limit their ability to develop their land, nor give the state the power to condemn properties.
The Battle of South Mountain occurred Sunday, September 14, 1862. It was the turning point of the Maryland (or Antietam) Campaign: a campaign that involved Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s first invasion into Union territory. Many historians agree that a victory on Union soil in 1862 represented the South’s best chance for winning independence. At stake for the South was foreign diplomatic recognition and intervention.
Southerners believed that the advent of foreign intervention would have persuaded a war weary North to negotiate a peace. One successful victory on Northern soil would have done more for the South than all their victories in Virginia and elsewhere combined.
The Battle of South Mountain was no skirmish. It involved two full corps of General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, and a good portion of a third. It also involved two divisions of Lee’s Army. The casualty rate was relatively high, especially for the Confederates who lost about 15 percent of their force-soldiers. The battle in Fox’s Gap was especially violent and protracted, as fighting ebbed and flowed across the fields near the present-day Appalachian Trail from 9 a.m. to dusk. The famed Union Iron Brigade first began to build its reputation through their persistent assaults on Turner’s and Frostown Gaps.
Two future presidents: Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley fought at Fox’s Gap with Hayes sustaining a significant wound. Two notable generals, Union General Jesse Reno and Confederate General Samuel Garland, died fighting at Fox’s Gap.
For the official announcement, visit nps.gov/history/nr/nrlist.htm
For more information about the Friends of South Mountain state Battlefield and to see the completed National Register of Historic Places application visit friendsofsouthmountain.org/aboutus.html
To see the completed application for South Mountain State Battlefield, visit http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/western/southmountainbattlefield.asp.