Civil War Battlefield Conservation: Focus on Gettysburg
It was a turning point in the war and the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, claiming 51,000 lives. The Union soldiers whose blood stained the rural Pennsylvania fields were immortalized in President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address for their “last full measure of devotion.” Every year, 1.5 million visitors visit Gettysburg’s hallowed ground, which is administered by the National Park Service (NPS).
Our RoleWe have worked with NPS for more than 20 years to acquire key parcels for the National Military Park, most recently the historic Harman Farm, where much of the first day of the battle was fought. NPS had long sought to acquire the property and in 2011, with the support of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation and funds from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, we helped NPS buy the property from the former Gettysburg Country Club. Now, instead of hosting a nine-hole golf course, this hallowed ground will be restored to its historic 1863 setting.
Why This Project MattersEven though it marks a pivotal moment in U.S. history, not all of the land where the battle of Gettysburg was fought has been protected. Some parcels have been lost forever to development. Thanks to our Battlefield Revolving Fund established with grants from the Gilder Foundation, we have been able to acquire and donate important sites to the park, including:
- 28 acres on East Cavalry Field (in partnership with Adams County);
- 23 acres of the Blocher Farm at the base of Barlow’s Knoll;
- A historic private property adjacent to the park along the Baltimore Pike;
- The last privately held commercial land in Gettysburg National Military Park, a former motel located in the area of Pickett’s Charge; and
- A nine-acre inholding in the park that was the site of the action at Devil’s Den, where there were intense attacks and counterattacks on the second day of the battle.
We also assisted the Richard King Mellon Foundation in acquiring and donating to the park two key parcels totaling 313 acres.