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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: MHT Files, n.d.
Turner's Gap/Fox's Gap Historic District
Inventory No.: F-4-17-B, F-4-17-C, WA-III-175, WA-II-1174
Date Listed: 1/12/2011
Location: Reno Monument Road, , Middletown, , Frederick County, Washington County
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: September 14, 1862
Description: During the September 14, 1862 Battle of South Mountain the primary push of Union troops took place over the roads leading over the mountain at Turner's Gap and Fox's Gap and the adjoining woodlots and fields. The area was entirely rural during the Civil War with only a few very small villages such as Bolivar which was essentially a handful of houses, one of which was the post office. The area has always been largely agricultural and residential, and still remains largely rural today. Many of the farms, houses, and outbuildings are still scattered throughout the landscape, although a fair number of post-Civil War homes can be found in small pockets along some of the main roads. Dwellings built prior to the Civil War primarily consist of small log houses with German siding and equally small domestic and agricultural outbuildings which include some very small bank barns, summer kitchens, smokehouses, springhouses, chicken houses, corn cribs, etc. These smaller houses are found predominantly on the steep slopes of South Mountain. One can still see the contrast of these smaller subsistence farms as compared with larger scale farms reflected in the bigger buildings in the valley area just east of the mountain. Other houses in the Turner's/Fox's Gap District include early to mid-19th century two-story stone houses and two-story brick houses. Several of the larger houses were used as military headquarters during the battle and some were used as hospitals during and immediately following the battle. Commercial buildings were few in the area, but two still stand along the west side of Old National Pile. The Old South Mountain Inn (WA-II-0001) and the Beachley House/White House Inn (F-4-029) were two-story stone and stucco buildings which served as inns or taverns. Both places provided room and board for travelers along the pike through much of the 19th century up until at least the time of the Civil War. The Mountain House Inn (Old South Mountain Inn) also served as the battle headquarters for Confederate General D.H. Hill, commander of Lee's rear guard. Union troops used the White House Inn for a hospital immediately after the battle. Stone walls were also part of the South Mountain landscape. Farmers constructed the dry-laid stone walls of local rock to delineate the boundaries of their fields and contain livestock. Both Confederate and Union soldiers used the walls for defense during the battle, and the walls were important in the Confederates' hold of the mountain for the better part of the day. Many of these stone walls are still in place over much of the battlefield. Colquitt's Wall (F-4-130) adjoining the National Pike at Turner's Gap was a key defensive position for General Colquitt and some Georgia brigade skirmishers in their stand against Union General John Gibbon's "Black Hat" or "Iron Brigade" advancing from the east. Many present-day roads and paths traversing the district landscape were in existence before the battle. A few of the old roads are still dirt roads or exist only as trails or traces through the woods, however, the majority of the roads have been paved and are currently in use. Most historic roads appear to closely follow their original routes across the battlefield landscape. Significance: The Turner's and Fox's Gaps Historic District is historically significant for its association with the Battle of South Mountain on September 14, 1862. The primary Union push against the entrenched, but smaller, Confederate forces wound its way up South Mountain at Turner's Gap along the National Pike and at Fox's Gap to the south along the old Sharpsburg Road (today Reno Monument Road). The Battle of South Mountain was significant in that on September 14, 1862, only three days prior to the Battle of Antietam at nearby Sharpsburg, a small number of Confederates briefly held off Union troops in order for Lee's divided army to reassemble. The major day-long battle took place in response to the loss of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Special Order 191, his command to split the Southern army in order to capture the Union garrison at Harper's Ferry and its supply of weapons and ammunition. The discovery of those orders prompted Union General George McClellan's uncharacteristic boldness in his pursuit of the Confederate Army on South Mountain.
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