George Alfred Townsend - pen name 'Gath', inspired by adding an 'h' to his initials in response to the biblical passage II Samuel 1:20 "Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the Streets of Askalon." - was born in Delaware in 1841. He was one of the youngest journalists to cover the Civil War and was well-known for his writing in the New York Herald. He was a prolific writer after the War, as well. In 1884, Townsend bought a tract of land at Crampton's Gap and had several buildings constructed to serve as a retreat from his hectic writing career. Included among the buildings was to be a mausoleum topped with a bronze dog. The dog was stolen over the years and Townsend ended up being buried in Philadelphia - where his wife was from - after his 1914 death. The State of Maryland eventually became heir to the property and created a State Park in 1949. The Park features a museum and picnic areas, as well as informational signs pertaining to both Townsend's activities here and to the role that Crampton's Gap played in the battle of South Mountain. Basically, a couple of Rebel brigades under Gen. Lafayette McLaws - his main forces were tied up further to the south trying to capture Harpers Ferry - were roughly pushed aside by much more numerous Union force of Gen William Franklin's VI Corps. The most unique feature of the Park is the War Correspondents' Arch described in the next tip.
Standing directly in Crampton's Gap, the War Correspondents' Arch is George Townsend's most unique endeavor here at Gathland. Created in 1896 as a memorial to his fellow war correspondents from the Civil War - all of the different regiments were putting up monuments at different battlefields, so why not the journalists too? Symbolism flows throughout the monument. Two towers are linked by a double layer of arches - a top triple arched layer sitting on a large single arch. The three arches represent Description, Depiction and Photography. Two niches above the triple arches hold carvings of horse heads with the words 'Speed' and 'Heed' underneath. The north tower contains a statue of Pan while a small weathervane with a gold pen bending a sword tops the south tower. Most striking is a list of 157 correspondents/journalists and war artists - newspapers not using photography at the time of the War. This unique monument is made more special by its setting here high on South Mountain, far off the beaten path.
The Appalachian Trail runs the length of South Mountain, climbing up its southern terminus just north of Harpers Ferry. Following the ridgeline of South Mountain, the Appalachian Trail covers almost 40 miles and with only a 1650 foot elevation change, the route is a reasonably easy one. For those interested in doing the whole 40 miles, trail shelters and backpackers' campgrounds can be found about a day's hike from each other.