Save 26 Acres of Key Battlefield Land at Gettysburg
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
One hundred fifty-three years ago this year, the Battle of Gettysburg, the largest battle ever fought on American soil, became enshrined as part of our nation’s history.
Today, the Civil War Trust can turn every $1.00 you donate into $4.30 so you can help save a crucial part of Gettysburg’s hallowed ground!
Dear Trusted Friend,
Do you remember your first trip to Gettysburg?
Do you remember how you felt when you first looked out over those beautiful, rolling acres of hallowed ground?
I do . . . like it was yesterday.
It was 1983; wow . . . thirty-three years ago. Ronald Reagan was President, Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House, and my Baltimore Orioles would win the World Series. I was the County Executive for Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and a friend of mine suggested that I read a novel called The Killer Angels on my upcoming family trip to the beach.
I told him that I don’t read novels; I read history. He insisted that I’d like this one, so I gave it a try. As they say, the rest is history.
Like many people, I read that book and it changed my life, because then, I simply had to go to Gettysburg and see the places I had just read about.
I cannot begin to describe to you the profound effect that hallowed ground had on me that day. I began studying the Civil War intensely (250+ books and innumerable battlefield visits, and still counting), and this passion led to my current position, where I am so fortunate to be in my 16th year as president and CEO of the Trust. As I turn 70 years old in a few days, I fully expect this to be the last job I will ever have.
So you see, my friend, Gettysburg truly changed my life, just as it changed the lives of every veteran who fought there 153 years ago, and the millions of people who have gone there since.
Maybe it has changed your life, too. Maybe for you, Gettysburg is THE most hallowed ground in the world, either because you’ve stood there and felt similar waves of emotion, or you’ve read some of the hundreds of books about the battle, marveling at the courage and honor and valor of those who fought there.
Either way, I hope you will agree with my assessment that if any battlefield land anywhere is worth preserving, Gettysburg has to be near the top of the list.
That’s why I ask you to help me take advantage of a $4.30-to-$1 match to save 26 acres of key battlefield land at Gettysburg.
As you can see on the Trust's battle map, we are targeting several tracts at Power’s Hill, which I would describe to you as “The Forgotten Hill” of Gettysburg.
Rising to a height similar to nearby Little Round Top, Power’s Hill was the most important Union artillery position guarding the Union right flank – so important that Commanding General George Gordon Meade ordered it held “at all hazards.”
Officials at the Gettysburg National Military Park have identified these tracts as high-priority sites that need to be protected. You have already helped to save crucial land at Power’s Hill, which we transferred to the Park a few years ago, and which have been restored back to their 1863 appearance.
This part of the battlefield may not be as well-known as the Round Tops or even Gettysburg’s famous ridges, but it is an absolutely crucial part of the story, especially as it relates to Culp’s Hill and Spangler’s Spring – and the last thing we need is a mid-rise box hotel or other development destroying its significance.
But fortunately, a few local landowners share our preservation feelings. The current owners of the 9-acre “Mulligan MacDuffer’s” mini-golf, which is part of the 26 acres, have a deep appreciation for its history.
When they made the decision to retire, they also decided to approach us about buying the land. You see, they want to see it preserved, too – and know that the Civil War Trust will restore the land and treat it with the respect it deserves.
Now, if we can save all of these 26 acres, it will allow further restoration – including a possible walking trail to the “Forgotten Hill,” making it not-so-forgotten anymore and affording easy access to the numerous monuments, markers, tablets and cannons that crown the rise.
The total cost of these 26 acres is $1,773,000 – but . . . through a combination of land acquisition funds from the Gettysburg National Military Park, a generous grant from the HTR Foundation, a landowner donation, federal matching grant funding, and a generous donation from a former member of our Board of Trustees, Frank Bracken, and his wife Judy . . .
. . . we have $1,361,000 (fully 77%) of the total amount committed, leaving us $412,000 to go.
That’s a lot of money, I know. But when the opportunity arose to save 26 acres of unprotected land at Gettysburg, land that is crucial to completing the preservation of the Power’s Hill sector of the battlefield, of course we “charged into the battle” to save it.
My staff has gotten the properties under contract . . . the Board of Trustees has given their approval to proceed . . . we have gotten as much matching money lined up as we can find…
. . . now I need your help – your generosity – to get this land saved forever.
Without you and your generosity, no hallowed ground is saved for future generations, no accolades are earned, no progress is made to protect our nation’s precious heritage. You are the key to every victory.
We all get caught up in the day-to-day activities that fill our hours. But when you and I have the chance to save 26 crucial acres at America’s best-known Civil War battlefield, I believe we need to make time and take advantage of it.
Why is it so important to press forward relentlessly in this great task of saving hallowed ground and not rest on our laurels?
To answer that question, let me tell you what a developer said about development heading toward open land near the Richmond, Virginia battlefields: “It’s no longer a question of whether it’s going to go in that direction, it’s a question of when.”
Those who would thoughtlessly and recklessly destroy our battlefields and our history are not taking any time off; that’s why you and I cannot slacken in our efforts, either.
Every day, I can’t help but remember that we are still racing the clock to save hallowed ground. How many more years do you and I have left before most of America’s remaining unprotected hallowed ground is gone? Five years? Ten? Certainly not much more than that, and in many places, we certainly have much less time than that.
So please, if you possibly can, will you help me raise the last needed $412,000 so that I can add that to the $1,361,000 in already-received gifts and expected commitments, and save and restore these crucial 26 acres at Gettysburg?
As soon as we raise our $412,000, we can close on this $1,773,000 worth of property – that’s a $4.30-to-$1 multiplier of your donation dollar.
I want you to be a part of this historic effort, with a gift of any amount. You are the reason why the Trust has been able to save nearly 43,000 acres, my friend; I appreciate everything you have done for our nation’s battlefields.
Please join me in taking advantage of this terrific $4.30-to-$1 match, and help save a critical 26 acres at the “Forgotten Hill” of Gettysburg.
Please let me hear back from you as soon as possible, and please accept my deepest thanks for your generosity.
Awaiting your reply,
P.S. If you have not already done so, I highly encourage you to register for the Civil War Trust’s 2016 Annual Conference in Gettysburg. This promises to be our biggest and best gathering ever. Join me, your fellow Civil War Trust members, and dedicated staff — along with some of the nation’s elite historians — for four days of camaraderie and Civil War battlefield touring at Gettysburg. Confirmed speakers and tour guides include Garry Adelman, Kent Masterson Brown, D. Scott Hartwig, James Hessler, Wayne Motts, Carol Reardon, Timothy H. Smith, Richard Sommers, Eric Wittenberg, and many more. Tour selections are already filling up fast. To make sure you get the tours you want, please register online as soon as you can at www.civilwar.org/annualconference. See you there, and thank you.
And don’t forget that there is a wealth of information on our website about this important Gettysburg preservation effort, including updates on the effort to restore Lee’s Headquarters, thanks to your help. Go to www.civilwar.org/gettysburg16 for more photos, maps, history articles and many more resources. You can also make your gift securely on-line – putting your generosity to work at the speed of light! And if I haven’t said it enough: Thank you!