Guide to Civil War sites on Appalachian trail published
In the mid-19th century, the route that became the Appalachian Trail was closer to the gates of Hell than the legendary birds-chirping, leaves-rustling footpath to relaxation, inner calm and contemplation it is now known for.
From northwestern North Carolina to the roads to Antietam and Gettysburg, it was a place for skirmishes with Confederate guerrilla forces and all-out battles between North and South.
Two future presidents fought together in two of those battles. One of those Union officers was assassinated 39 years to the day after a pre-Antietam battle at Fox Gap in Maryland. Hundreds died on these lands, and hundreds more were wounded or sickened.
In the decades before the war, the route clearly was one path north toward freedom for escaped slaves-and a route south toward their destiny at Harpers Ferry for John Brown’s band of 1859 revolutionaries. In the decades to follow the Civil War, some of those emancipated slaves took over the lands of their former owners and developed their own, free communities adjacent to what became the A.T. by 1937.
Those stories and more are included in Hiking through History: Civil War Sites on the Appalachian Trail, published today by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, lead private guardian today of the 2,189-mile national scenic trail.
Researched and written by Leanna Joyner of Asheville, North Carolina, Hiking through History includes maps for, and descriptions of, 25 short hikes to Underground Railroad and battle sites in both small towns near or on the trail and ridges above the valleys. Summaries of the key battles include photographs and maps from the time and photographs of scenes today.
Hiking through History will be available from independent bookstores, major outfitters, and on-line at The Ultimate Appalachian Trail Store (www.atctrailstore.org).