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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: MHT Files, n.d.
Crampton's Gap Historic District
Inventory No.: F-4-17-A, WA-III-176
Date Listed: 1/12/2011
Location: Burkittsville, , Frederick County, Washington County
Category: District
Period/Date of Construction: September 14, 1862
Description: During the September 14, 1862 Battle of South Mountain the secondary push of Union troops took place over the road leading over the mountain at Crampton's Gap and the adjoining woodlots and fields. The area was predominantly rural during the Civil War; the town of Burkittsville was the largest town in the area. Many of the farms, houses, and outbuildings are still scattered throughout the landscape, although a few 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 Crampton's Gap Historic District include early to mid-19th century two-story stone houses and two-story brick houses. One of the larger houses belonging to Martin Shafer (1606 Gapland/Huffer Road) served as Union General William B. Franklin's headquarters during the battle. The Resurrection German Reformed Church in Burkittsville as well as many houses in town served as hospitals for Union and Confederate wounded during the battle and for months afterward. 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. Many present-day roads and paths traversing the district landscape were in existence before the battle. A few of the old roads are still unpaved 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 Crampton's Gap Historic District is historically significant for its association with the Battle of South Mountain on September 14, 1862. The most southern point of fighting that day took place on the fields and roads leading up to Crampton's Gap near Burkittsville. Here, after hours of preparation, Union General William Franklin and his VI Corps forced the evening reatreat of the heavily outnumbered Confederate forces. But Franklin's delay allowed the Confederates at Harpers Ferry their victory and capture of the Union garrison there. 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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