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New branded signage linking battle sites to be installed near South Mountain

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BALTIMORE -- New signage is set to be installed around South Mountain, site of an 1862 Civil War battle and a forerunner to the bloodiest one-day conflict of the war at Antietam. 

A new logo that will appear on roadside wayfinding signs is going to be unveiled tomorrow at Shafer Farm in Burkittsville, on the 160th anniversary of the Battle of South Mountain. Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner is among the elected officials expected to deliver remarks at the event hosted by the organization Preservation Maryland.

Following the unveiling, there will be a short program of Civil War music with a drum demonstration.

The new logo and signage, backed by the National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program, are designed to help better explain the conflict and link the sites where the fighting took place. New signs have been installed through a partnership between Preservation Maryland and the State Highway Administration.

Courtesy of Preservation Maryland

About 46,000 Union and Confederate forces were engaged in the fight on the border of Frederick and Washington counties, with an estimated 5,010 casualties, according to the American Battlefield Trust, a nonprofit preservation group.

But because the clash occurred in three distinct gaps, the Battle of South Mountain is often overshadowed by Antietam, which started three days later, Preservation Maryland said.

Over the years, conservation of the site has fallen to a patchwork of local, state and federal agencies, the organization said.

A report administered by Preservation Maryland and funded by the National Park Service determined signage with unified branding would help tourism organizations develop programming about the battle.

Following a victory in the summer of 1862 at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was determined to move the conflict into the north, according to an article from the American Battlefield Trust, and his army crossed the Potomac River from Virginia into Maryland on Sept. 4. 

Five days later, he divided his army, sending Lieut. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson toward federal garrisons in West Virginia and Lieut. Gen. James Longstreet deeper into western Maryland.

Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan intercepted a copy of Lee's order and moved his troops toward the South Mountain range.

On Sept. 14, the armies fought in three mountain passes: Crampton's, Turner's, and Fox's Gap. The Confederates still held two positions at the end of the battle, but seeing his forces were outnumbered, Lee ordered a withdrawal.

After reuniting his forces, Lee decides to continue his push into Maryland and orders his troops to an area near Sharpsburg, Maryland, about eight miles from the South Mountain range.

There, on Sept. 17, Lee and McClellan met again, this time with forces totaling 132,000. More than 22,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting.

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