Powder River’s Appalachian Trail Journey from Georgia to Maine 2008

Archive for Maryland

Battle of South Mountain

Day 98
Location: Ensign Cowall Shelter, MD
Miles hiked today: 20.7
Miles from Springer: 1,040.3
Miles to Katahdin: 1,133.7
Elevation: 1,430′

I got a good start on the day today, and it feels really good to be back on the trail. For the first 8 miles or so I was walking along the battlefield from the battle of South Mountain. It is really fascinating to be able to make out long-abandoned roads that follow the ridge or cross it. In some places, the AT actually uses an old road bed. From detailed descriptions of the battle, many of these roads were here and were used by the troops. At Fox’s gap, General McClellan sent some of his men through to flank the main effort at Turner’s Gap, one mile north. General Reno fell there, and there is a monument to him on the spot where he died. There is actually a nicely preserved field at Fox’s Gap, which pretty much matches the description of the battle.
A little bit north at Turner’s Gap, there is a backpacker’s campground with showers and flushing toilets, all provided by the state. As far as I can tell it was built right on the battlefield. There is a really nice restaurant called South Mountain Inn, which I had been looking forward to stopping at for some time. Unfortunately, they don’t open until dinner time, but it’s probably for the better since it is a really expensive place anyhow.

Just past the battlefield is Washington Monument State Park. This is a different Washington Monument than the one in D.C., in fact it outdates it by nearly 60 years. The citizens of Boonesboro, MD decided to build a monument to George Washington in the early 1800’s, and it was finished by 1827. It is an impressive structure, and looks a little like a big stone milk bottle. It was used as a lookout by both sides during the Civil War, as it has panoramic views to the east and west. When I got to the park, I was really craving a soda, and the park ranger said there was a vending machine near the museum. I had only a one dollar bill on me, but the vending machine only required a dollar so I was in business. When I made my selection it gave me not one but two sodas! Ah, life on the trail can be so wonderful at times.

I crossed I-70 today on a footbridge, and not long after that is a place called Annapolis Rocks. It is a popular destination for dayhikers, rock climbers, weekend campers, and apparently teenagers. The place was buzzing with activity, the sort of thing that most thru-hikers try to avoid. It was a nice place though, with some beautiful rock formations facing to the west, and undoubtably would have been a great place to see the sunset.

I was moving on, however. I have to be sure that I don’t run out of daylight while hiking, since I have burned out the battery on my headlamp. There is a hostel pretty close to the shelter I am staying at, which was very tempting because not only would I get a shower, laundry, power outlets and a bed, but they deliver pizza there. It took all my willpower to resist, as the hostel is about twice as expensive as normal hostels, and after ordering pizza probably would have cost me 50 dollars. Much cheaper to eat my packet of noodles out here in the woods…



Maryland, My Maryland

Day 97
Location: Crampton Gap Shelter, MD
Miles hiked today: 11.4
Miles from Springer: 1,019.6
Miles to Katahdin: 1,154.4
Elevation: 1,000′

I finally got back on the trail yesterday, after almost a week off. I am now in Maryland! It feels really good to be home in my adopted state. I have now finished 5 states, and in two days I will be out of Maryland which will make 6. As you can see, I also passed the thousand mile marker, which felt pretty good.

I have been unable to keep up with the journal entries, and I still have a backlog to catch up to. As this post is current, the older ones will appear below this one as I update them, so be sure you scroll down if you want to catch the rest of the saga up until this point. Hopefully I will have them all up to date by the end of the week!

I love the history here. I am camped on a Civil War battlefield right now, which was a contested gap on South Mountain during the 1862 Maryland campaign. Robert E. Lee had brought his army of almost 40,000 effectives north into Maryland to win a major victory in Northern territory, and to release the northern Virginia farmers from supporting two armies during the harvest. He had split his army into five parts, sending three of them to surround Harper’s Ferry, WV under Stonewall Jackson, part of it to Hagerstown, MD and part of it to Boonsboro, MD to guard the gaps.

I am at Crampton Gap, which was attacked by Franklin’s Corps of the union army. However, they were too slow to take advantage of the opening and Lee got his troops there in time to hold it for a whole day. As a result, Franklin was unable to reach Harper’s Ferry in time to help the garrison there, and 12,000 union troops were forced to surrender. The two armies would clash three days later in what is known as the battle of Antietam. The battle of South Mountain preceding it would claim over 2,000 casualties.

Maryland is a good state to live in for people who are intersted in the Civil War, because its loyalties are very confused. It was a border state, which means that although it stayed in the Union, it was a slave state and the people here had mixed loyalties. Baltimore was a very pro-confederate town, and there were Maryland regiments on both sides. I believe it has one of the best state songs; it’s not exactly politically correct, but that is what makes it so fascinating, and it illustrates how people thought about the war back then. It was written by a southerner and sung by Lee’s troops as they marched into Maryland, however after their defeat they did not sing it when the recrossed the Potomac.

Maryland, My Maryland
Written in 1861 by James Ryder Randall
Became the state song in 1939

The despot’s heel is on thy shore, Maryland!
His torch is at thy temple door, Maryland!
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore, Maryland!
My Maryland!

Hark to an exiled son’s appeal, Maryland!
My mother state! To thee I kneel, Maryland!
For life and death, For woe and weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And gird they beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not cower in the dust, Maryland!
Thy beaming sword shall never rust, Maryland!
Remember Carroll’s sacred trust
Remember Howard’s warlike thrust,
And all thy slumberers with the just,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come, ’tis the red dawn of the day, Marland!
Come with thy panoplied array, Maryland!
With Ringgold’s spirit for the fray
With Watson’s blood at Monterey,
With fearless Lowe and dashing May,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! For thy shield is bright and strong, Maryland!
Come! For thy dallience does thee wrong, Maryland!
Come to thine own annointed throng
Stalking with Liberty along,
And chaunt thy dauntless slogan song,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Dear mother! Burst the tyrant’s chain, Maryland!
Virginia should not call in vain, Maryland!
She meets her sisters on the plain-
“Sic Semper” ’tis the proud refrain
That baffles minions back again, Maryland!
Arise in majesty again
Maryland! My Maryland!

I see the blush upon thy cheek, Maryland!
For thou wast ever bravely meek, Maryland!
But lo! There surges forth a shriek
From hill to hill, From creek to creek
Potomac calls to Chesapeake
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not yield the Vandal toll, Maryland!
Thou wilt not crook to his control, Maryland!
Better the fire upon thee roll,
Better the blade, the shot, the bowl
Than crucifixion of the soul
Maryland! My Maryland!

I hear the distant thunder hum, Maryland!
The Old Line’s bugle, fife and drum, Maryland!
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb-
Huzzah! She spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes! She burns! She’ll come! She’ll come!
Maryland! My Maryland!