Burkittsville, Maryland

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Burkittsville is a town in Frederick County, Maryland, United States. The population was 171 at the 2000 census.

Contents

Geography

Burkittsville is located at 39°23′29″N 77°37′38″W / 39.39139°N 77.62722°W / 39.39139; -77.62722 (39.391459, -77.627099)[1].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.4 square miles (1.1 km²), all of it land.

History

Burkittsville was first founded by two property owners: Major Joshua Harley and Henry Burkitt. The western half was first founded as "Harley's Post Office" in 1824. After Harley's passing in 1828, Burkitt renamed it Burkittsville. Over the next thirty years it grew as a community with stores, shops, blacksmiths, a schoolhouse, and a tannery.

On September 13, 1862, Confederate cavalry under command of Colonel Thomas Munford (under General J.E.B. Stuart) occupied Burkittsville. On Sunday, September 14, the forces of the Union and Confederate armies engaged in the Battle of Crampton's Gap, a bloody prelude to the Battle of Antietam. The Reformed and Lutheran churches and adjacent schoolhouse were used as hospitals for the more than 300 wounded of both sides. These buildings still stand today.

Routinely characterized as the trigger to Antietam, victory at Crampton’s Gap embodied Union Gen. George B. McClellan’s strategic reaction to his acquiring the legendary “Lost Order” at Frederick which disclosed Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s campaign movements. It was McClellan’s intention to “cut the enemy in two and beat him in detail”.

After seizing Crampton’s Gap Gen. William B. Franklin failed to relieve the besieged Union garrison at Harpers Ferry, and more importantly to prevent Confederate generals James Longstreet and “Stonewall” Jackson from reuniting at Sharpsburg. There Lee hastily stood his ground in the mammoth battle of Antietam, the war’s bloodiest day. President Abraham Lincoln then used the marginal Union victory at Antietam as a springboard to his Emancipation Proclamation which changed war aims. Without the fall of Crampton’s Gap there would have been no Antietam.

The Blair Witch Project

Burkittsville gained notoriety with the 1999 release of the film The Blair Witch Project, and its follow-ups: a film sequel (Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2), a series of video games, a Showtime special (The Burkittsville 7)[2], and many Internet fan sites. "The poor town of Burkittsville suddenly found itself overrun with Blair Witch groupies, wandering around in the woods, trying to find the 'real' places where the story had happened."[3] Contrary to popular belief, however, the majority of the film was not filmed in Burkittsville, but rather in Maryland's Seneca Creek State Park, about 25 miles (40 km) away,[4][5] and the events depicted in the film and the legend of the Blair Witch itself were entirely fabricated by the producers themselves.[6] Furthermore, other potentially identifiable landmarks from the Blair Witch story - Coffin Rock, the Black Hills, Black Rock Road, and the local convenience store - are not found in the real Burkittsville or the immediately surrounding area. A Black Rock Road, Black Hills, and the "Blair High School" the interviewed girl mentioned can, however, all be found in Montgomery County, Maryland, which is very possibly not a coincidence as Blair Witch filmmaker Eduardo Sanchez grew up there[7] and is an alumnus of Montgomery College.[8]

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