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South Mountain Journal by John Canan, Photographer, Journalist

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Thunder on the Mountain

Thunder on the Mountain

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It was lunchtime on Sunday, September 14, 1862.  People in Burkittsville, Maryland were just coming home from church when the thunder of cannon fire rolled across this small agricultural valley. Quickly, the bewildered townsfolk realized they were in between the Union and Confederate line of fire.  According to resident, former mayor, and local historian Paul Gilligan, this was the terrifying beginning of the Battle of South Mountain.  The impression that this story made on me as we stood in the field looking up at where the cannon's were firing from, is something that still comes back to me each time I drive up through here.

Paul drove me to the east side of town to where the Union army under the command o f Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan commandeered a local farm and gathered as the canon's hurled shells from the mountain above.   This day, it turns out was a pivotal opportunity that was lost by the Union forces to turn the tide of  General Less's  souther invasion.

Paul drove me to the east side of town to where the Union army under the command o f Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan commandeered a local farm and gathered as the canon's hurled shells from the mountain above.   This day, it turns out was a pivotal opportunity that was lost by the Union forces to turn the tide of  General Less's  souther invasion.

Paul, moving to the picturesque town of Burkittsville, MD to retire, has since been an instrumental figure in getting preservation status and historical recognition for this town, but also in land preservation with neighboring state parks.  Paul runs his period based dry goods store, P.J. Gilligan Dry Goods and has started the Burkittsville Historical Society.  

P.J. Gilligan Dry Goods
2 West Main Street
Burkittsville, MD 21718
301-693-8373  http://www.paulgilligan.net

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