As the 156th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg approaches, once again we have an amazing opportunity to preserve hallowed ground at the most famous battlefield of the Civil War.
In 1890, Senator Joseph Hawley of Connecticut said that a park at Gettysburg could “offer the grandest study in the world for students of the military art, and for lovers of patriotism and admirers of magnificent valor.” Five years later a park was established, and to this day it continues to serve the noble purpose Senator Hawley articulated. Our job is to make sure it continues to do so for generations to come.
During the Battle of Gettysburg, the land currently at stake was known as the Plank Farm after its owner, J. Edward Plank. Soldiers from each side tread these 143 acres on all three days of battle, and one of the largest Confederate field hospitals in Gettysburg was based here.
View of Gettysburg from the Seminary Ridge Tower shows the Plank Farm to the left and the field of Pickett’s charge to the right.
This transaction is truly a team effort, with the Trust joining forces with the Land Conservancy of Adams County and other partners to raise funds for a purchase valued at $435,000. The Trust is only responsible for $40,000 of that total, which means every dollar you give to preserve this property is magnified to $10.88! By securing this land now, we proactively protect this part of the battlefield from commercial or residential development while further securing the integrity of nearby hallowed ground, like the 18 acres Trust members like you preserved at Seminary Ridge earlier this year and the preserved and restored Lee’s Headquarters site we saved in 2014.
As a token of our gratitude, Trust supporters who give $64.20 or more to save these 143 acres will receive a special reproduction of a historic map of the Gettysburg battlefield originally “published by the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, 1886.” The map (measuring 12” x 16” and printed on special heavy-duty paper) was created by a group of concerned American citizens, who, much like you, wanted to raise awareness and funds to preserve these hallowed grounds forever - years before the Gettysburg National Military Park was established!
These 143 acres witnessed every stage of the three-day Battle of Gettysburg – including its aftermath...
On July 1, 1863, elements of the Union First Corps under General John Reynolds double-quicked across this property as they moved to the sound of the battle’s opening shots. Reynolds himself would fall to a Confederate bullet that day – about a mile north of this property – but his timely arrival allowed the Union army to hold the favorable ground that proved so crucial to their success in this epic battle.
On July 2, Confederate General James Longstreet’s divisions, under General John Bell Hood and General Lafayette McLaws, marched across this property as they sought to discover the Union left flank. Their advance culminated with the legendary attacks on Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, and the Peach Orchard. Longstreet called this “the best three hours’ fighting ever done by any troops on any battlefield,” but these two divisions suffered terrible casualties, many of whom were taken to the field hospital at the Plank Farm.
On July 3, Confederate General George Pickett led his division over this land, up the slope to Seminary Ridge, and onto the battlefield where the charge that came to bear his name would be bloodily repulsed.
On all three days of the battle, and for many weeks after Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia made its retreat, this farm served as one of the biggest hospitals in all of Gettysburg. More than 1,500 soldiers were treated on this property, including General Hood. There were more than 60 documented burials on the property. Many of the soldiers buried there were later reinterred, but there may still be unknown graves on the property to this day.
Please consider making your most generous gift today to help raise the $40,000 we’ve committed to preserve this precious American history forever.