Update: Two New Tracts to Save at Gettysburg

A Message from Jim Lighthizer, CWPT President

Update: Two New Tracts to Save – Two Baltimore Pike Properties Added to our Gettysburg 2011 Campaign
(Read Jim Lighthizer's original Gettysburg 2011 Campaign letter here »)

Dear Fellow Preservationist,

Jim LIghthizerA few weeks ago, I had the honor and privilege of announcing to you our new 2011 Gettysburg Campaign.

As an update, I can tell you that we are well on our way to raising the amount needed to preserve these two historic tracts (the former Gettysburg Country Club property and the Josiah Benner Farm) totaling 104 acres. (Thank you!)

Today, it is my duty to tell you that we are fortunate now to have two new Gettysburg parcels to preserve.

Both of these tracts were a part of the historic Henry Spangler farm, and they sit opposite the entrance to the current Gettysburg Visitor Center, along the Baltimore Pike.

Just like the two Gettysburg parcels we successfully saved last year (on the Emmitsburg Road and at Power’s Hill, which is less than a half-mile away), the ones I’m talking about today are small parcels with post-war, non-historic houses on them. They are also located in a “Village Mixed-Use District,” which permits certain commercial uses for the property.

Unfortunately, this makes them much more expensive, because if we want the land (which we do), we also have to buy the houses, even if we plan to knock them down, dig up the asphalt multi-car driveways and restore the property.

The two parcels are marked in yellow on the enclosed map (totaling about 4 acres). They are bordered by land owned by the Gettysburg National Military Park.

Together, they will cost about $460,000 (remember, the houses and the commercial zoning make them so expensive), but the good news is that we are applying to get half of that amount ($230,000) matched by the federal Battlefield Preservation Program, and we are using another $66,000 reimbursement that we received as a result of land you and your fellow Trust members helped save at Gettysburg in 2004!

So the final tab is $164,000 that we need to raise. I know that’s a lot of money for approximately 4 acres and a couple of non-historic houses, especially when gas prices keep drifting upward!

But we have willing sellers right now who are ready to sell to us, and we need to move quickly while we can . . .

. . . because these lots would be perfect for someone to swoop in and buy them, tear down the existing small houses, and construct either the most modern, gargantuan houses local zoning laws would allow – I believe the derogatory term is “McMansion” – overlooking the battlefield, or a commercial enterprise as permitted by current zoning.

I think you’d agree that this would be a horrible result for this ground – hallowed by the blood of scores of soldiers, North and South.

Literally tens of thousands of Union troops marched right in front of this land – or across it – as they approached key parts of the battlefield such as Culp’s Hill and Spangler’s Spring via the Baltimore Pike on July 1st through 3rd, 1863.

There is even a monument to the 10th Maine Battalion literally IN THE FRONT YARD of one of the properties:

Baltimore Pike 10th Maine Monument

Wouldn’t it be great if we could eventually restore this part of the battlefield?

And just like the golf course and Benner Farm properties, we know that there were scores of known burial sites of both Union and Confederate soldiers on the Spangler Farm BEFORE they were disinterred and moved to national and memorial cemeteries, and we have hard evidence that some of those were directly on or adjacent to these properties.

Did you know that when the Battle of Gettysburg ended, dead and wounded soldiers outnumbered the townspeople by more than 15-to-1?

Learn about burials on the Baltimore Pike Targe Properties

Baltimore Pike

I apologize for being so graphic, but just try to imagine it . . .

. . . hundreds – thousands! – of dead men and horses, putrefying in the July heat, then soaked in driving, drenching rains. Picture the piles of amputated limbs, the bloated, disfigured and rapidly decaying corpses. What a nightmare!

Naturally, most of the dead were hastily buried either where they fell, or at nearby field hospitals. Most of the Union dead were soon exhumed and moved to the Soldiers’ National Cemetery where Lincoln delivered his famous address, but many Confederate dead remained in those fields for up to eight years until they were moved to Southern cemeteries.

With so many dead, historians estimate that several hundred bodies – North and South alike – were never found and reburied, and remain in unmarked graves to this day.

Like almost all Civil War battles, the Battle of Gettysburg raged over the private property of farmers and citizens, such as the farm owned by Henry Spangler. Wounded Union soldiers from the fighting on Culp’s Hill were brought to the Spangler farmhouse, which was converted into a temporary field hospital.

Those soldiers who did not survive their wounds were buried in his fields. Below, I have reproduced a portion of a map, made one year after the battle, illustrating where the soldiers of both armies were laid to rest, at least initially. Lines with hash marks represent Union soldiers; the small, straight lines represent Confederate burials:

spangler property 1

I have overlaid an outline of the two properties we are looking to save on this historic map so you can see the proximity to these battlefield burials.

It is crucial for you and me to work now, while we have the chance, to reclaim this crucial part of the Gettysburg battlefield. We can buy these two properties, remove the modern structures and junky cars that are there now, and restore that part of the battlefield to the way it looked at the time of the battle.

It is very rare that we have this many opportunities to save hallowed ground in Gettysburg in a single year, and there is simply no way of knowing when – or even if – we will have additional opportunities in the future.

This may be our last chance for a long while to protect some crucial hallowed ground while being an even bigger part of the success story at Gettysburg: together, we are working toward the complete preservation of this battlefield!

So if we can raise the remaining $164,000, we will help save $460,000 worth of irreplaceable Gettysburg battlefield land.

That’s a lot of money in these still-uncertain economic times, but it is also a wonderful $2.80-to-$1 return on your donation dollar! There aren’t too many places these days that give you an instant 280% return on your “investment.”

I want you to be a part of this historic effort, with a gift of any amount you would consider appropriate. You are the reason why the Civil War Trust has been able to save over 30,000 acres of hallowed ground, my friend; I appreciate everything you have done for our nation’s battlefields.

Please let me hear back from you as soon as possible, and please accept my deepest thanks for your generosity.

Awaiting your urgent reply,

Jim Lighthizer

P.S. Believe me, I realize how much you have done to help preserve our nation’s battlefields already. I am humbled by your generous commitment to our shared cause. I feel it is my duty to keep you informed of the projects we’re working on, and hope that you will continue to support our efforts. Any amount that you can send today to help save these four acres is greatly appreciated. If I haven’t said it enough before: Thank you!

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