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Friends of South Mountain State Battlefield plan open house

April 10, 2008

The Friends of South Mountain State Battlefield will hold an open house and membership drive Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at the Greenbrier State Park Visitor Center.

The Friends of South Mountain State Battlefield originally began as the Friends of Gathland and the Friends of Washington Monument State Parks in 1992. The two groups later merged to form the new organization shortly after the creation of the State Battlefield in 2000. Since that time, the group has been active in assisting the battlefield staff in the preservation and interpretation of the battlefield.

South Mountain State Battlefield is known as Maryland's first state battlefield park.

Some of the accomplishments of the Friends have been the installation of interpretive markers at Gathland State Park telling of the life of Civil War correspondent George Alfred Townsend, additional interpretive markers describing the battle, printing of interpretive materials and the acquisition of several important artifacts.

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The most recent acquisition was the pistol carried by Sgt. Charles Goodwin during the battle. Sgt. Goodwin was a courier assigned to deliver a message to Maj. Gen. Jesse Reno toward the end of the Sept. 14, 1862 battle. Sgt. Goodwin was with Maj. Gen. Reno when the general was mortally wounded on the field.

Sgt. Goodwin grabbed the reins of the general's horse and led it off the field so the Confederates wouldn't capture the general. Reno would die later that evening from his wounds.

Several artifacts will be on display Saturday. Light refreshments will be served. Entrance to the park will be free.

For additional information, call Washington Monument State Park at 301-432-8065.

South Mountain Recreation Area is home to five state parks, including Greenbrier, South Mountain, Gathland, Washington Monument, and the South Mountain State Battlefield.

The parks are headquartered in Washington County. South Mountain State Battlefield was the site of a bloody Civil War battle on Sep. 14, 1862, with an estimated 6,000 casualties. Although overshadowed by the Battle of Antietam three days later, the Battle of South Mountain would mark the first major engagement between the two armies on Northern soil.

Information about Greenbrier State Park is at www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/western/greenbrier.html.

Information about the Battle of South Mountain is at www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/southmtbattle.html.

(Park info is here: www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/western/southmountain.html).

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