Friday, September 15, 2017

Rare 1920s photographs of Fox's Gap, Jesse Reno monument

Union veteran Uberto Burnham in Daniel Wise's field. Jesse Reno monument appears in background.
(Fred Wilder Cross | William Christen collection)
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As these rare, early 1920s images show, Fox's Gap on the South Mountain battlefield once was much more open landscape than it is today. In the view above, taken by Fred Wilder Cross during a 1924 visit to the battlefield, Union veteran Uberto Burnham stands in what once was farmer Daniel Wise's field. As a private in the 76th New York, Burnham fought at the Battle of South Mountain on Sept. 14, 1862, a prelude to much bloodier fighting at Sharpsburg, Md., three days later. (Here is Burnham's account of the battle published in The National Tribune in 1928.)

Of course, the most notable Union casualty at Fox's Gap was Union General Jesse Reno, mortally wounded on the Wise farm. In the background of the photo above, we see the Reno monument, dedicated in the general's memory in 1889. A photograph taken from this vantage point today would be obscured by trees. Below, view early 1920s black-and-white images of the tall oak under which Reno purportedly died.

Cross, a Civil War expert from Massachusetts, often traveled to the Boonsboro/Sharpsburg, Md., area to shoot images of the South Mountain and Antietam battlefields and to gather stories about the fighting. Black-and-white photos in this post courtesy of William Christen IV. (Click on all images to enlarge.)

Early 1920s image of Reno Oak at Fox Gap on the South Mountain battlefield.
According to accounts, a mortally wounded Union General Jesse Reno died under this tree.
Another early 1920s image of the Reno Oak, which no longer stands.
A portion of Reno Oak in the collection of the excellent Boonsborough (Md.) Museum of History.

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