Help Save 12 Acres at Gettysburg
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
Dear Trusted Friend,
I almost hesitate to ask you for your help once more, because this is a battle you and I have already had to fight TWICE before…
…but knowing of your commitment to saving America’s heritage, I ask you today to sign a petition to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett asking him to prevent – once and for all – the threat of a casino desecrating the hallowed ground of Gettysburg.
Then, once you have done that, I hope will join me and take advantage of one of the most exciting $3-to-$1 matching grant opportunities we’ve ever had, to save an additional 12 acres at Gettysburg, including absolutely priceless ground associated with the decisive fight on East Cemetery Hill on July 2, 1863.
First, let me give you the news on the latest casino threat.
As you know, concerned citizens and preservation advocates like us have already defeated proposed casinos planned near the Gettysburg battlefield – TWICE!
But, like zombies or maybe kudzu, the relentless pro-casino forces keep coming back, and recent news reports indicate they have not given up on their misguided dream of gambling within frightening proximity of America’s most hallowed historic site.
But this time, rather than engage in yet another long, drawn-out and expensive public relations battle, we are working with concerned community leaders to protect Gettysburg once and for all through governmental action.
Pennsylvania Representative Paul Clymer has introduced House Bill 889, which would create a “Zone of Respect” around both the Gettysburg battlefield and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to keep any casino far away from these hallowed sites.
This is the best way to preserve this hallowed ground now, in this sesquicentennial year of both the battle and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and for all future years.
I’m sure that you, like me, were moved by the many solemn remembrances that we all recently witnessed in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
I believe that it is our solemn responsibility – our duty, our charge, our obligation – to protect Gettysburg in all its unique, sanctified and dignified reverence, so that future generations may go there to reflect and learn, without being bombarded by flashing neon, pawn shops and the gaudy atmosphere that casinos usually bring with them.
If you and I don’t keep up the fight now – and win – this threat to Gettysburg will likely be repeated in future years, the pro-casino forces believing they can outlast us and wear us down.
By creating a “Zone of Respect” of ten miles, you and I can protect these priceless, irreplaceable American landmarks for future generations. By signing this petition as soon as possible, you are asking Governor Corbett to throw his support behind HB 889 – a perfectly reasonable and rational compromise – that will ensure that no future casino will ever have a Gettysburg address.
The key to victory today is to outflank the pro-casino crowd, win this fight in the Pennsylvania state house, and force them to build any casino outside the “Zone of Respect.”
And the “first shot" in this battle is your decision to pick up a pen a sign your name to the enclosed petition. I intend to flood the governor’s office with thousands of paper and on-line petitions (you can sign an electronic version at www.civilwar.org/gettysburgcasino, then send the link to all your friends) from every corner of America, showing him beyond the shadow of a doubt our determination to protect Gettysburg from desecration. So please, sign it today. Thank you.
Along with the fight to protect Gettysburg from the threat of a casino, you and I also have the opportunity to save some crucial hallowed ground that I never thought we would be able to save.
As you can see on the battle map, we have a chance to save a small but absolutely crucial part of the fight for East Cemetery Hill. It was here that, for a few moments, Confederates stood poised on the brink of victory as darkness descended on the evening of July 2, 1863, until they were handily repulsed in dramatic fashion by stout and timely Union reinforcements.
Like you, I have read dozens of accounts of the evening attack of the Louisiana Tigers of Brig. Gen. Harry T. Hays and the North Carolinians under Brig. Gen. Isaac Avery (both under command of Gen. Jubal Early) against Gen. Oliver O. Howard’s overextended Union infantry and gunners who defended East Cemetery Hill. But one of the best and most concise accounts comes to us from the Army of the Potomac’s Chief of Artillery, Henry J. Hunt, who wrote in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War:
“It had been ordered that… Early and Rodes should assault Cemetery Hill. Early’s attack was made with great sprit… the hill was ascended through the wide ravine between Cemetery and Culp’s Hills, a line of infantry on the slopes was broken, and Wiedrich’s Eleventh Corps and Rickett’s reserve batteries near the brow of the hill were overrun; but the excellent position of Stevens’ 12-pounders at the head of the ravine, which enabled him to sweep it, the arrival of Carroll’s brigade sent unasked by Hancock – a happy inspiration, as this line had been weakened to send supports to both Greene and Sickles – and the failure of Rodes to cooperate with Early, caused the attack to miscarry.
“The cannoneers of the two batteries, so summarily ousted, rallied and recovered their guns by a vigorous attack – with pistols by those who had them, by others with handspikes, rammers, stones and even fence-rails – the ‘Dutchmen’ showing that they were in no way inferior to their ‘Yankee’ comrades, who had been taunting them ever since Chancellorsville. After an hour’s desperate fighting the enemy was driven out with heavy loss, Avery being among the killed.”
Dying after being hit in the neck by a bullet and knocked off his horse, Gen. Avery scrawled a final order to this second-in-command: “Major, tell my father I died with my face to the enemy.”
About a mile to the south, we also have the opportunity to wrap up an unprotected 10-acre tract of core battlefield land on the Taneytown Road. On all days of the battle, Union troops were marching and maneuvering all over this property, and it shares nearly a quarter of a mile of boundary with the existing national military park. The 20th Maine was positioned near this land on July 3rd, the day after their famous defense of Little Round Top, which is only about a half-mile to the south.
The threat is that this land, as well as the East Cemetery Hill tracts, could potentially be developed with houses or even a hotel or other commercial development. They are on the market now, so now is the time to move on them.
(Full disclosure: Please note that there is a remote chance that negotiations of part of the East Cemetery Hill land could still fall through. The owner of the property – the Gettysburg Municipal Authority – could still decide not to proceed with the sale, even though they have previously voted to accept our proposal. Again, I believe this is highly unlikely, but wanted to make you aware of it. Much more likely is that, by the time you read these words, they will have voted to go forward with the sale. UPDATE: On July 15th, the Board of the Gettysburg Municipal Authority approved the sale of the East Cemetery Hill land to the Civil War Trust!)
The purchase price for these 12 acres at Gettysburg is $535,000 (there is a 1970s house on one of the properties that will eventually be removed, but that is what runs the price up so high). The good news is that we are applying for and expect to receive fully $250,000 from the federal Battlefield Preservation Fund, leaving us with a still –formidable $285,000 to raise.
With all of the other projects we have been working on this year – Fleetwood Hill at Brandy Station, Vicksburg, Chancellorsville and more – I was having a hard time coming up with a good argument for asking for your help once again, when something happened.
Do you know that old saying, “Good things happen to good people”? Well, I don’t know if I’m a good person or not, but something very good – borderline miraculous – has happened to the Civil War Trust, and it could mean that you and I can save this hallowed ground at Gettysburg for $174,000 rather than $285,000.
You see, we recently received the final distribution from a bequest that a member – Patricia Kay Davies – left to us in her will. We had previously been told by the executor of her estate that there might be a little more that might come our way...
… but I had no idea it would be another $111,000! What makes this amazing gift all the more remarkable is that neither I nor anyone on my staff nor our board ever met Kay Davies, even though she lived in a close suburb of Washington, DC.
In case you did not see the tribute we published last year in Hallowed Ground, you can read the article about this extraordinary woman. She was so passionate about saving battlefields, and – anonymously, from afar – she so carefully scrutinized our effectiveness and efficiency, that she decided to name us the main beneficiary in her will before she passed away.
We applied the bulk of her gift to many of last year’s successful projects, especially saving hallowed ground at Cedar Creek. With this latest providential gift, she will play an enormous, if posthumous, role in helping to save these crucial Gettysburg properties, as well. That is a powerful legacy, and I am personally humbled that she had such confidence in this mission, and this organization.
So with this major gift in place, we now need to raise the final $174,000. This means for every $1 you can commit to this effort today, I can turn it into $3, multiplying the value of your generosity by 300%!
As we have just passed the 150th anniversary of this supremely important campaign and battle, will you help me save these crucial acres before they are threatened by encroaching development?
You have made your mark on so many other essential Civil War battlefields; wouldn't you like to add once again the immortal name of “Gettysburg” to your already-impressive preservation legacy?
If you are able to support our battlefield preservation mission by sending $35 or more today, I will be honored to send you a special Gettysburg gift... It is a DVD of the most recent animated map we have produced in conjunction with Wide Awake Films.
Our animated maps are receiving widespread acclaim, helping thousands of folks understand key Civil War battles better than ever before. I know you will enjoy this DVD, so I urge you to return your gift today so that I can get it right out to you.
In my book, you are a crucial co-investor in this mission to save America’s heritage. Your dedication to this cause puts you in a class by yourself, so please accept it with my compliments.
So even though our total need is down to $174,000, I have no illusions – that is still a lot of money.
However, to put it in perspective, if just 1,740 Civil War Trust members each committed just $100, this land will be saved. Or even if 3,480 members gave $50 each, we’ll be in the clear.
The main point is that this land is within our reach, and I hope you will agree to help today by considering a generous gift to this effort.
I also want to remind you to please sign the petition to Governor Corbett, to help establish the “zone of respect” that will forever protect Gettysburg from the blight of casinos.
The Gettysburg Animated Map DVD is yours to keep. You are under no obligation to either send a gift or return it to me. I want you to see how we are working to get more people - especially younger people - interested in history and to care about this all-important effort of saving our country's history and heritage. I will tell you that every dollar you donate to the Civil War Trust today advances our sacred cause.
Please accept my deepest thanks for your generosity.
Awaiting your reply,
P.S. Don’t forget that there is a wealth of information for you on our highly informative website about this important Gettysburg effort. Just go to www.civilwar.org/gettysburg13 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!
P.P.S. If, like Kay Davies, you would like to make battlefield preservation part of your personal legacy by leaving a gift in your will, please check the box on the enclosed reply slip, or send us an email at email@example.com, indicating how you would like us to contact you. Thank you again.