GETTYSBURG – After years spent with its fate hanging in the balance, the Department of the Interior on Friday announced that the 95-acre site of the former Gettysburg Country Club has officially become part of Gettysburg National Military Park. In celebrating the permanent protection of the second-largest privately held property inside the boundaries of the park, Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer issued the following statement:
“This is a day that many in Gettysburg and the larger preservation community have long dreamt of. Here at the Country Club, we have been presented with the incredible opportunity to set aside some of the most blood-soaked ground still unprotected at Gettysburg, and we owe our partners at The Conservation Fund a debt of gratitude for helping us ensure that this happy conclusion was reached. In acquiring this land, known historically as the Emanuel Harman Farm, we have largely completed the protection of the first day’s battlefield.
“As we approach the beginning of the period commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, I can imagine no better legacy than setting aside hallowed grounds like the Gettysburg Country Club for future generations. I am confident that with the commitment of Secretary Salazar and the Department of the Interior, today’s achievement is but the first of the tremendous successes for historic preservation we will celebrate during the Sesquicentennial.
“Even as we celebrate this great success, we must remember that other vital pieces of the Gettysburg story are still vulnerable. In addition to our participation in this transaction, the Civil War Trust is independently pursuing the purchase of three other pieces of the Gettysburg battlefield. These properties — two on the Baltimore Pike near the park visitor center, and the historic Josiah Benner House and Farm, used as a field hospital in the wake of the battle — will eventually join the Country Club as the newest parts of Gettysburg National Military Park.”
The former Country Club property, located along the Chambersburg Pike between McPherson Ridge and Herr’s Ridge, was the scene of intense fighting on July 1, 1863. Eight Confederate brigades totaling more than 15,000 soldiers — more than 20 percent of Lee’s entire army was positioned upon or fought from this land. Two units involved in the bloody fighting around Willoughby Run, the 26th North Carolina and 24th Michigan, each lost more men than any of the regiments in their respective armies at Gettysburg.
More information on the Trust’s current acquisition efforts, including the three at Gettysburg and others at Perryville, Ky., Bentonville, N.C., Franklin, Tenn., and Second Manassas, Va., is available online.
The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states— including 800 at Gettysburg.