Turner's Pass Tablet #1 - Boonsboro, MD
N 39° 29.085 W 077° 37.195
18S E 274677 N 4373849
Quick Description: One of six tablets describing the Battle of South Mountain, placed here along the National Road in 1897. The tablets were moved to a safer distance from the road in 1987, now thirty-four feet from the edge of the road.
Location: Maryland, United States
Date Posted: 1/10/2012 7:23:20 PM
Waymark Code: WMDFYR
In 1897 the War Department erected six cast iron tablets which described the Battle of South Mountain. At that time a person could read them and not even have to get out of their horse drawn buggy. Kind of hard to imagine a time when automobiles did not use this road, but it is true, when these tablets were placed, horses were the main way to get around these parts. I had to get out of car and walk a bit in some nasty summer heat to read them as they are far back now, much safer. This is a fun area to visit with so much history, and lots of markers. The Appalachian Trail passe a few feet away. The parking lot for this roadside area is across the street next to the South Mountain Inn.
In 1862, Union and Confederate forces in the early September days leading to Antietam would march along the National Road through the town. The old National Road crosses South Mountain at a point called Turner's Gap. It was at Turner's Gap, along with nearby Fox and Crampton's Gap, that the Battle of South Mountain was waged on September 14, 1862. The battle which was a Union victory is called by some the "Prelude to Antietam" which would occur three days later near Sharpsburg.
In 1987 (Almost 100 years after they were erected) the Central Maryland Heritage League in cooperation with the National Park Service had the Cast Iron tablets relocated to a safer position. Now the visitor to Turner's Gap can read the tablets without having to worry about being hit by a speeding automobile. At that time it is hoped the visitor will find a better place to come and visit. And perhaps in the quietness of the moment, "in the evening dews and damps," they will witness the march of history, and hear the sounds of days gone by. The whoops of the red men, the tramp of the settlers, the ring of axes as the land was cleared and the National Road was built. Perhaps the visitor can catch a glimpse of marching men, long columns of blue and gray, and officers such as Stonewall Jackson, D.H. Hill, John Buford, and George Meade. SOURCE
Curiously, these tablets, while in the Turner's and Fox's Gaps Historic District, are not mentioned in the nomination form, and therefore do no contribute. They are not even mentioned as non-contributing objects. Weird.
This first tablet reads:
Between September 4th and 7th, 1862, the Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee, commanding, crossed the Potomac near Leesburg and occupied Frederick, Maryland. On the 10th a movement was made to surround and capture the Union forces at Harper's Ferry. Early that morning Major-General T. J. Jackson, with Jackson's (Stonewall) Division and the divisions of R.S. Ewell and A.P Hill, left Frederick, marched over South Mountain at this Pass, crossed the Potomac near Williamsport on the 11th, seized Martinsburg on the 12th and marching by way of Charlestown, invested Harper's Ferry from the Virginia side of the Potomac on the 13th. J.G. Walker's Division, then near Monocacy Aqueduct, recrossed the Potomac at Point of Rocks on the night of the 10th, and occupied Loudon Heights on the 13th. Major-General Lafayette McLaws with his own division and R.H. Anderson's both of Longstreet's command, moved from Frederick on the 10th, via Middletown; crossed South Mountain at Brownsville Pass, seven miles south of this, on the 11th; Two brigades moved unto Maryland Heights and six down Pleasant Valley on the 12th, and invested Harper's Ferry from the Maryland side. Generals Lee and Longstreet, with the divisions of D.R. Jones and J.B. Hood, the brigade of N.G. Evans and the Reserve Artillery, marched on this road to Hagerstown. D.H. Hill's Division halted at Boonsboro to prevent the escape of the garrison at Harper's Ferry through Pleasant Valley and to support Stuart's Cavalry, which remained east of South Mountain to observe the movements of the Union Army and retard its advance.