For Immediate Release: 04/19/02
Preservation Group Announces National Campaign to Rescue School House Ridge
School House Ridge was key to Stonewall Jackson's dramatic 1862 victory at Harpers Ferry
(Harpers Ferry, W.Va.) - The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), America's largest nonprofit battlefield preservation group, announced today the beginning of a national campaign to rescue a portion of historic School House Ridge in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. The 232.5-acre property was key to the September 1862 siege of the picturesque river town.
"School House Ridge is a national treasure," remarked CWPT President James Lighthizer. "If this property was allowed to fall prey to development, one of the most beautiful and historic landscapes in America will be marred forever."
To ensure that School House Ridge is preserved for future generations, CWPT is orchestrating a nation-wide campaign to raise private and public funds to protect the site. In a recent letter to CWPT members, Lighthizer set an organizational goal of raising nearly $200,000 toward the fee simple purchase of the property. Lighthizer promised that this money would be leveraged with contributions from state and federal partners in order to meet the more than $1.7 million purchase price for the site.
Dennis Frye, the former Chief Historian of Harpers Ferry NHP, compares the historic significance of the property to Gettysburg, noting: "School House Ridge is the 'Seminary Ridge' of Harpers Ferry. It is unbelievable that the entire Confederate battlefield is adjacent to, but outside of, the present national park boundary."
The enormous strategic value of School House Ridge made it a tempting target for Confederate forces under General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson in September 1862. Jackson's successful occupation of the ridge on September 13 sealed the fate of the Union garrison at Harpers Ferry. After an intense, two-day bombardment, more than 12,000 Federal soldiers were forced to surrender - the largest mass capitulation in U.S. Army history until World War II.
CWPT has a long history of preserving hallowed ground at Harpers Ferry. In 1995, CWPT rescued 56 acres of battlefield land directly across from School House Ridge. In February, CWPT identified Harpers Ferry as one of the ten most endangered battlefields in the nation.
CWPT is a 39,000-member 501(c)(3) nonprofit battlefield preservation organization. Its goals are to preserve our nation's endangered Civil War sites and promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. CWPT's website is located at www.civilwar.org.