Historic Gettysburg ‘Day 1′ Battlefield Site Is Saved
March 25, 2011
Photo by Mary Marrsch/Flickr
The Conservation Fund transfers historic property to the National Park Service
Gettysburg, Pa. — Today the U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the National Park Service and The Conservation Fund announce the incorporation of a historic Civil War battlefield site at Gettysburg in to the Gettysburg National Military Park. Located along Willoughby Run creek and south of Chambersburg Pike, the 95-acre property, historically known as the Harman Farm, was the site of significant fighting during the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg.
“Gettysburg will always have a sacred place in the heritage of America for the pivotal role it played in our nation’s history and for the enormity of the sacrifice that took place here,” Secretary Salazar said. “With the addition of the Emanuel Harman Farm to the Gettysburg National Military Park, we are able to include another important chapter to the story that helped shape our country.”
An acquisition priority of the National Park Service for many years, the protected land was the former Gettysburg Country Club’s 9-hole golf course. In accordance with the National Military Park’s general management plan, the National Park Service intends to restore the landscape to its historic 1863 setting.
“Purchasing the historic Harman Farm allows the National Park Service to provide access to critical portions of the first day’s battlefield, which will greatly enhance our visitors’ understanding of the actions that took place on this hallowed ground,” said Bob Kirby, Superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park.
On July 1, 1863, the first major conflict of the Battle of Gettysburg took place on and around the property when Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill and his corps, en route from Chambersburg, clashed with forces commanded by Union General John Buford. That morning, Confederate General James Archer’s Brigade advanced across the northern end of the property toward the Union line positioned on McPherson’s Ridge. They were counterattacked by Union General Solomon Meredith’s Iron Brigade, who drove Archer’s men back across the property and captured General Archer.
In the afternoon, Confederate General James J. Pettigrew’s 2,600 strong North Carolina Brigade attacked across the property to strike Union troops in Herbst Woods and along McPherson’s Ridge. Some of the bloodiest fighting of the entire battle ensued. The Union and Confederate regiments that suffered the highest losses in the Battle of Gettysburg fought here; the 26th North Carolina, which suffered over 500 casualties, and the 24th Michigan, which lost 363 men or 73 percent of their strength on July 1. Despite heavy losses the Confederates forced the Union troops to retreat beyond McPherson’s Ridge toward the town of Gettysburg.
In 2008, with support from the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation, the U.S. Congress appropriated funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to enable the National Park Service to acquire this property. The LWCF program enables federal and state agencies to acquire lands that feature important historic, natural, scenic and economic benefits for public use and enjoyment. The LWCF receives significant revenue from the development of federally-owned offshore oil and gas rights. This conservation project at Gettysburg, as well as other efforts to protect our national resources and heritage for future generations, would not be possible without financial support from the LWCF. To build on the success of LWCF, The Conservation Fund and the conservation community strongly support President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative that proposes full funding for this crucial program in Fiscal Year 2012.
“We should all bear witness to the events that occurred at Gettysburg and its role in American history,” said Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. “Today’s announcement will ensure that future generations can come to Gettysburg to learn even more and reflect on what Lincoln called the ‘last full measure of devotion’ on display during the three day battle. I am pleased that the Secretary and the National Park Service are committed to its preservation.”
“The Gettysburg Battlefield is one of America’s most hallowed and sacred grounds,” said Congressman Todd Platts. “The preservation of the Harman Farm will further ensure that the epic story of bravery and devotion that unfolded at Gettysburg will continue to inspire Americans for generations to come.”
“We are proud to assist the National Park Service with the acquisition of the Harman site where Confederate and Union troops first met at Gettysburg for what would become a decisive event in American history,” said Patrick F. Noonan, Chairman Emeritus of The Conservation Fund. “As the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War draws near, our joint endeavor not only enhances the protection of the Gettysburg battlefields but also honors in a fitting tribute all those who fought, died and participated in the struggle for a national identity.”
“It’s an honor to have had the opportunity to work with The Conservation Fund to conserve this important property as part of the Gettysburg National Military Park,” said Jen Bubczyk, member of Cumberland Club Investment, from which The Conservation Fund purchased the property. “We’ve worked to build communities in the surrounding area for many years, and we feel that it’s important to balance preservation of our natural and historic resources with the work that we do.”
“This is a day that many in Gettysburg and the larger preservation community have long dreamt of,” said James Lighthizer, President of the Civil War Trust, a non-profit organization that assisted with the purchase. “Here at the former Country Club, we have been presented with the incredible opportunity to set aside some of the most blood-soaked ground still unprotected at Gettysburg. I am confident that with the commitment of Secretary Salazar and the Department of the Interior, today’s achievement is but the first of the tremendous successes for historic preservation we will celebrate during the Sesquicentennial.”
“Members of the Gettysburg College (then Pennsylvania College) community were not bystanders during the events of July 1-3, 1863,” said College President Janet Morgan Riggs. “Like others in town, our faculty and students were involved in the Battle and its aftermath. One alumnus, David Wills, a prominent attorney and an 1851 graduate, personally invited President Abraham Lincoln here for the dedication of the national cemetery,” Riggs added. “As the Gettysburg National Military Park expands to protect hallowed ground, Gettysburg College will continue to provide education and promote dialogue about the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg through our Civil War Institute and Civil War Era Studies program.”
During their undergraduate studies at Gettysburg College, Noonan and Rich Erdmann, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for The Conservation Fund, fostered a special interest in the Battle of Gettysburg. They were surprised to discover that more than half of the 384 principal Civil War battlefields designated by the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission were not protected. Together with Frances Kennedy, wife of former Director of the National Park Service Roger Kennedy, they created The Conservation Fund’s Civil War Battlefield Campaign in 1986 to preserve these hallowed places and provide comprehensive historical information on each conflict. Over the past two decades, The Conservation Fund has, with its partners, protected 83 sites and more than 9,400 acres of historic lands in 14 states, including over 500 acres and nine sites at Gettysburg. The first two parcels at East Calvary Field, totaling 300 acres, were acquired with the assist of the Richard King Mellon Foundation and donated to the National Military Park.
About the Gettysburg National Military Park
Established by concerned citizens in 1864, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association set out to preserve portions of the battlefield as a memorial to the Union troops that fought in the battle. In 1895, the lands were transferred to the Federal government and Gettysburg National Military Park was established. Administered by a commission of Civil War veterans, the park’s primary purpose was to be a memorial to the two armies that fought this pivotal battle, and to mark and preserve the battle lines of each army. Administration of the park was transferred to the National Park Service —a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior—in 1933. Today, the National Park Service staff of approximately 80 full-time and 60 seasonal employees continues its mission to protect, preserve and interpret the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address to the park’s 1.2 million visitors each year.
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.
About the Gettysburg National Military Park
Established by concerned citizens in 1864, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association set out to preserve portions of the battlefield as a memorial to the Union troops that fought in the battle. In 1895, the lands were transferred to the Federal government and Gettysburg National Military Park was established. Administered by a commission of Civil War veterans, the park's primary purpose was to be a memorial to the two armies that fought this pivotal battle, and to mark and preserve the battle lines of each army. Administration of the park was transferred to the National Park Service —a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior—in 1933. Today, the National Park Service staff of approximately 80 full-time and 60 seasonal employees continues its mission to protect, preserve and interpret the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address to the park’s 1.2 million visitors each year.
Gettysburg National Military Park commemorates the Battle of Gettysburg, known as a turning point in the Civil War and, with 51,000 casualties, its bloodiest battle. More than 1.2 million people visit each year to learn about the three-day battle and… Read More