Physical Address:South Mountain State Battlefield6620 Zittlestown RoadMiddletown MD 21769
Mailing Address:c/o Greenbrier State Park21843 National PikeBoonsboro MD 21713
8 a.m. to Sunset
Certain activities are permitted outside of the regular park hours. Please check with the park before your visit if you plan to engage in an activity which requires you to be in the park before or after the posted hours.
Pets are allowed in South Mountain State Battlefield.
South Mountain State Battlefield seeks to preserve and interpret the first major Civil War battle to take place in Maryland. Fought on September 14, 1862, the Battle of South Mountain was a critical turning point in the American Civil War. The Union victories at South Mountain and Antietam (fought three days later) led President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
The state battlefield, located along the gaps of South Mountain, includes valuable farm and forestland, and is home to diverse wildlife. Only here does the Appalachian National Scenic Trail intersect a major Civil War battlefield.
South Mountain Battlefield is on the National Register of Historic Places, recognizing its historical significance in American history. The National Park Service, which administers the official federal list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture, confirmed the Battlefield's application in January 2011.
National Register of Historic Places applications submitted for South Mountain Battlefield can be viewed in detail below:
Riding on a string of victories, General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia invaded Maryland on September 4, 1862. Lee hoped to take the Civil War into the Union, where a victory might persuade neutral Great Britain and France to side with the South, and convince war-weary Northerners to sue for peace. In short, a victory in the North might have secured Southern independence.
The Confederate invasion went well at first. Lee’s army occupied Frederick, Maryland, then moved into Washington County towards Hagerstown. Union General George B. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac, however, left its fortifications around Washington, D.C. and pursued Lee’s army faster than expected. Then on September 13th a copy of Lee’s battle plans fell into Union hands. McClellan now knew that Lee had divided his army, sending part of it to capture Harpers Ferry, leaving only a few regiments to guard the South Mountain Gaps. This set the stage for the campaign’s turning point: the Battle of South Mountain.
Fought on September 14th, the Battle of South Mountain took place on three gaps. The northern gaps (Turner’s and Fox’s) are clustered around the National Pike (present-day Alternate U.S. 40). Crampton’s Gap is six miles to the south at present-day Gathland State Park. Advancing from the east, the Union troops sought to cross South Mountain, and destroy Lee’s dispersed army. Preventing this were a few Southern regiments on the mountain gaps. The battle for the northern gaps involved two waves of Union attacks. The first wave hit Fox’s Gap at 9 am, while the second wave hit both gaps simultaneously in the early afternoon. The Union attacked Crampton’s Gap in the late afternoon.
The battle forced Lee to abandon his invasion plans and go on the defensive. However, the Union’s failure to muster a full-scale attack in the morning allowed the Confederates to bring up reinforcements. The defenders bought time for Lee to reassemble his dispersed army, setting the stage for the Battle of Antietam, fought three days later.
The Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest one-day battle in American History, forced Lee to retreat back to Virginia. It also provided President Abraham Lincoln with the opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which ultimately led to the abolishment of slavery in the United States.
Total casualties for the Battle of South Mountain were about 6,100 killed, wounded, and missing. For many of these men the South Mountain is their last battlefield. The battlefield serves as a shrine to the memory of those who fought and died here in 1862. Assistance is needed to prevent encroaching development from forever snuffing out this unique landscape.
More detailed description of South Mountain State Battlefield.
All visits to South Mountain State Battlefield should begin with a visit to the battlefield’s office at Washington Monument State Park. While battlefield preservation is an ongoing, nearly two-thirds of the battlefield remains unprotected. Because of this, please respect the property rights and privacy of our friends and neighbors when visiting and touring the battlefield.
The Battlefield holds annual events that interpret the Battle of South Mountain. Some of these events feature living history. The Maryland Park Service maintains strict guidelines for the use of historic weapons. All re-enactors and interpreters are expected to adhere to the Maryland Park Service Standards For Historic Weapons Use.
580 Taylor Ave, Annapolis MD 21401