Overly cautious leadership led to a missed opportunity for Union forces in this often-overlooked Civil War battle.
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The Battle for Crampton’s Gap (aka Battle of Burkittsville), part of the larger Battle of South Mountain, was fought on September 14, 1862 between Union forces commanded by Maj. Gen. William B. Franklin and Confederate forces commanded by Col. William A. Parham and Brig. Gen. Howell Cobb in Frederick and Washington counties, Maryland during the American Civil War. The battle was a tactical Union victory, with Union troops seizing the gap but failing to relieve the besieged Union garrison at Harpers Ferry.
After General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia destroyed the Union Army of Virginia at the Second Battle of Manassas, Lee saw an opportunity to invade Maryland, threaten Washington, DC, and possibly influence European powers to recognize Confederate independence. Lee divided his army and sent one wing to capture Harper’s Ferry, Virginia and the other into Maryland. A copy of his orders fell into enemy hands, however, and for once Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan acted swiftly to catch Lee off guard.
McClellan sent elements of his reconstituted Army of the Potomac to capture three strategic gaps in South Mountain, hoping to sever Lee’s army and destroy it in detail. The mountain passes were known as Turner’s Gap, Fox’s Gap, and Crampton’s Gap. Because of the difficult terrain and distance between them, the Battle of South Mountain was actually three separate engagements, though they all took place in a single day.Continue reading “Crampton’s Gap Battlefield at South Mountain, Maryland”