National Battlefield Groups Announces Fundraising Campaign to Protect Hallowed Ground at Gettysburg
Jim Campi, 202-367-1861 x7205
(Gettysburg, Pa.) – The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), America’s largest nonprofit battlefield preservation group, today announced a fundraising campaign to preserve a crucial in-holding on the Gettysburg Battlefield. Originally part of the historic Philip Snyder farm, the property lies directly along the Emmitsburg Road and today is entirely surrounded by Gettysburg National Military Park. The two-acre parcel, located only a half mile from Little Round Top and due west of Devil’s Den, has been a top land acquisition priority for historians and preservationists for many years.
“Virtually everyone who has ever come to Gettysburg, seeking to walk the fields of the Civil War’s greatest battle, has passed by this land,” said CWPT president James Lighthizer. “As significant as the protection of large swaths of historic land can be, getting critical in-holdings like this one under protection of the National Park Service cannot be overemphasized. I am proud that we have been able to assist the park in ensuring the future of this historic landscape.”
Purchasing this land has been such a priority for the National Park Service that it already had funds on hand, approved by Congress, for the effort. But in late 2009, when the landowners expressed a desire to sell, the property, which also includes two modern homes, appraised well beyond the park’s ability to pay. Acting quickly, before a new private landowner could purchase and further develop the property, CWPT stepped in and put it under contract. After closing, CWPT will in turn sell the land to the National Park Service for $300,000, the sum initially allocated by the federal government.
Transferring such historic land to a responsible stewardship entity, like the National Park Service, is always CWPT’s ultimate goal when it secures a significant section of the battlefield. And in this case, finally taking possession of this land will be a long-anticipated victory for the park, allowing for greater interpretation and access along this portion of the battlefield. According to interim superintendent J. Mel Poole, “This will help the National Park Service restore the Phillip Snyder farm, the scene of Confederate battle lines and the advance on the Union positions at Devil’s Den on July 2, 1863.”
Lighthizer further stressed the land’s historic pedigree. “Nearly a third of the Union Army marched right by — and likely across — this property as they double-quicked up the Emmitsburg Road into Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. They had no idea they were rushing headlong into the bloodiest battle of the entire war. The next day, this land stood just a few dozen yards from the Confederate line, and saw the beginning of the assaults that would end in blood at the Wheatfield and Devil’s Den. It is not often – if ever – that we who care about saving America’s Civil War battlefields get the opportunity to save something so important.”
Land acquisition at Gettysburg, like other National Parks and battlefields is an ongoing process. According to a 2008 study by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), nationally there are some 4.3 million acres of privately owned land, or “in-holdings” within the borders of our National Parks. Ideally 1.8 million of those acres would eventually be integrated into the parks. To help meet this need, in FY2009, NPCA successfully lobbied Congress for Gettysburg to receive $2.215 million for land acquisition from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Since 1997, CWPT has worked with partner groups including the Land Conservancy of Adams County, the Conservation Fund, the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association and the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg, a predecessor to the Gettysburg Foundation, to protect 700 acres of the Gettysburg Battlefield. Thanks to our efforts, landscapes such as the Daniel Lady Farm, significant portions of East Cavalry Field and the cavalry action site at Fairfield, as well as several key in-holding parcels along the Baltimore Pike and Mummasburg Road, have been permanently protected.
In addition to the Snyder Farm property at Gettysburg, CWPT is currently engaged in active fundraising efforts to save significant battlefield properties at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Glendale, Malvern Hill and the Wilderness. To learn more about these and future opportunities, visit www.civilwar.org/take-action/save-a-battlefield.
With 55,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. CWPT has preserved more than 29,000 acres of battlefield land across the nation, including 700 acres at Gettysburg. CWPT’s website is www.civilwar.org.