"(Tourists) won't come up and find museum doors closed, which happened last year," Preston said. "... I know we missed a lot of people last year."
The assistance comes as the war's 150th anniversary approaches in 2011. Interest in the Civil War is anticipated to increase.
Starting April 5, visitors will find open all three museums -- one at Washington Monument and two at Gathland State Park -- about the Battle of South Mountain and Civil War war correspondent George Alfred Townsend. Occasional talks and demonstrations will be available as well, Preston said.
The Battle of South Mountain on Sept. 14, 1862, preceded the Battle of Antietam by three days. South Mountain was a tactical victory for Union Gen. George B. McClellan, because the Union army forced Confederate forces to retreat.
But South Mountain was a strategic victory for Gen. Robert E. Lee as his Confederate forces were largely able to escape and buy time for Gen. Stonewall Jackson to capture the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry, a gun-manufacturing center then in the state of Virginia.
The assistance from Antietam National Battlefield was possible because the National Park Service is bolstering staff at its parks for the NPS's centennial anniversary in 2016, Howard said. Antietam is getting four extra positions and loaning one of them to South Mountain State Battlefield for five years. The deal is renewable.
Using part of a state grant, the heritage area is dedicating more than $16,000, matched by the NPS, to pay salary and benefits for another interpreter, said Liz Shatto, director for the heritage area. The grant is for one year, but could be renewed.
The idea to secure the two additional interpreters germinated last year when Preston was telling Howard about the battlefield's lack of funding.
Remembering something about a national park assisting a state park out west, Howard did some research and proposed Antietam's assistance.
The Antietam-South Mountain deal allows personnel from both parks to assist at programs in each other's parks. One project they are planning is a driving tour of South Mountain with participants being picked up at Antietam.
If you go ...
WHAT: South Mountain State Battlefield
WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily April 5 through Sept. 30.
WHERE: South Mountain State Battlefield, east of Boonsboro
COST: Battlefield access is free. There is a $2 per vehicle entry fee for Maryland residents to Washington Monument Park; $3 per vehicle for out-of-state residents.
DIRECTIONS: To get to battlefield headquarters from Hagerstown, take Alt. U.S. 40 east through Boonsboro and up the mountain. Turn left on Monument Road. The office will be on the left.
MORE: For more information, call 301-432-8065.