Preservation

Heritage and News - April 2006

New Market, Va - Second Kernstown Va: New Interpretive Signs - Shepherdstown, West.Va.

 

The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation announced the purchase of a 69-acre property on the New Market battlefield in Shenandoah County, Virginia. The farm is adjacent to the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park in the core area of the battlefield where some of the fiercest fighting of the battle occurred.

 

With this acquisition, the Battlefields Foundation has protected 202 acres of core battlefield at New Market. Added to adjacent land owned by the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) at the state historical park, there is now a 493-acre contiguous block of protected core battlefield. Surrounding the park's Hall of Valor museum, this is the largest contiguous preserved battlefield area in the Shenandoah Valley.

 

 


"Essentially, we are getting a two for-one benefit with this acquisition," Battlefields Foundation Executive Director Howard J. Kittell said. "We are not only bringing new protection to 69 acres of critical battleground-the project also adds permanent protection to our neighbors at the Hall of Valor."

 

During the Civil War, the property was part of the Bushong farm. For the last half-century, the farm has been home to Mr. and Mrs. Henry F Buhl, both of whom wanted to preserve its historic character.

 

"The farm is a central part of the battlefield, so we are glad it will not be built over. It is important that we protect the places where our history occurred. Being on the land will allow people to better understand what happened at New Market at one of the most critical times of our nation's history," Mr. Buhl, who retired after teaching American History at Harrisonburg High School for 36 years, said.

 

By connecting several previously protected areas, the new acquisitions by the Battlefields Foundation will enhance the ability of visitors to understand the full sweep of the Battle of New Market (15 May 1864). Visitors will now be able to walk in the footsteps of the men who fought across three miles of terrain, starting at Shirley's Hill (south of modern Va. Route 211) and following the Confederate advance across the landscape to the Bushong House and beyond. The Battlefields Foundation will work closely with the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park to interpret the entire battlefield for visitors.

 

"The Battlefields Foundation purchase validates the vision demonstrated by George R. Collins when he acquired the Bushong Farm in the 1940s and later bequeathed it to his alma mater, VMI," Scott Harris, director of the state historical park, said. "It also builds on VMI's efforts since the 1960s to preserve and interpret the battlefield. We are pleased to partner with the Foundation in the property's future stewardship."

 

"Now that we can make nearly 500 acres of core battlefield available to the public, we can begin to interpret this battle at the landscape scale on which it occurred," Kittell said. "In the Valley, we tend to think of 'the battlefield' as a small space relative to the area over which the combatants actually fought," Kittell explained. "The Battle of New Market ranged over several square miles. We hope to develop in terpretation on this land that allow people to experience the battlefield on that scale today."

 

A map of the property may be downloaded from the news area of the Battlefields Foundation website: www.shenandoahatwar.org/news/news-list. php.

 

Created by Congress in 1996, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District encompasses Augusta, Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren counties in Virginia and the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Winchester. As authorized by the Secretary of the Interior, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation partners with local, regional, and national organizations and governments to preserve the National Historic District's Civil War battlefields and interpret and promote the Shenandoah Valley's Civil War story for the region and the nation.

 

John Heatwole recently completed work on an easement for the site where Lt. John Rodgers Meigs of Sheridan's staff was killed in an encounter with three Confederate cavalrymen just north of Dayton in Rockingham County. The site was important because Sheridan ordered the town and all homes within three-mile radius burned to the ground The order to destroy Dayton was rescinded but it stood in the surrounding area, still known as 'The Burnt District.'

 

The other significant thing about the site is that the easement was purchased from old order Mennonites and they have agreed to let the site be developed for interpretation.

 

Second Kernstown Va: New Interpretive Signs

 

KBA Director is soliciting funding for 3 or 4 additional historic markers that will elaborate on the many stories and small unit actions that occurred on the Pritchard-Grim Farm on July 24, 1864. These signs will become part of the walking trail of interpretive markers in place since 2004. Individuals or group may earmark their donation toward this worthy project that will enhance the understanding and enjoyment of the site.

 

Visitors to the Pritchard-Grim Farm are always impressed at the magnificent 1940's Bank Barn that is the centerpiece of the current view shed on the farm. Although it is not a Civil War-era structure, the building is a signature edifice that speaks to the continued agricultural use of the property.

 

In order to preserve the barn in a healthy condition, the KBA plans to request funds from the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation to repair its siding and roof this year. Because of its size and height, the cost of this project will be close to $20,000, and the KBA could invest up to $8000 of its m money to match the potential grant. This attention to the barn should last 30 years or more, and exemplifies the KBA's mission to preserve the land and buildings in its charge.

 

Their major event this year will be a Civil War Weekend, 15-17 Sept 2006. It will involve all of the Civil War sites in Winchester and Frederick County Third Winchester Battlefield, Sheridan's Field Hospital, the Old Court House Civil War Museum, Fort Collier, Kernstown Battlefield, Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Shenandoah University's Knowledge Point. The dates above are fixed. You can contact the Convention and Visitors Center at www.VisitWinchesterVA.com. They will have, or soon receive, info on lodging including special rates.

 

Shepherdstown, West.Va.

 

One of the oldest battlefield-preservation organizations is setting its sights on purchase of a significant piece of battlefield land on the banks of the Potomac River.

 

Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF) hopes to purchase 13 acres on the West Virginia side of Shepherdstown Ford, a mile and a half downstream from Shepherdstown. Here on Sept. 19 and 20, 1862, following the cataclysmic battle at Antietam on the 17th, the rearguard of the Confederate forces under Robert E. Lee clashed with pursuing elements of the Union Fifth Corps.

 

SHAF President Tom Clemens said his group was seeking the purchase as a way of collaborating in an expanding grassroots movement to preserve the battlefield of Shepherdstown. The newly formed Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association (SBPA) is making headway in its effort to preserve Faraway Farm, a portion of the battlefield that a developer had planned to subdivide into 152 house lots.

 

"There's nothing definite at this point," said Clemens, who has headed SHAF since 1989, four years after its founding. "But there is a very good and growing movement in Shepherdstown to save that battlefield."

 

SHAF brings to the table $100,000, a bequest of preservationist and Civil War historian Brian Pohanka, who died last year. "Brian of course was nuts about the 5th New York Zouaves, which crossed here and provided covering fire for the Federals," Clemens said. The 5th didn't fight at Antietam, he pointed out, "but they did fight in the battle at Shepherdstown Ford. Brian would be exited about this." Clemens said whether or not Pohanka's gift would cover the purchase, "We'd want to match it and stretch it" with donations from others.

 

SHAF is talking with the family that owns the 13 acres and is awaiting an appraisal. Clemens said much of the parcel is "not buildable" because of floodplain and "practically vertical" bluffs above the river. Besides one side of the ford itself (also known as Boteler's or Packhorse ford), the property includes two key ruins of buildings that witnessed the battle action. Boteler's cement mill, now comprising tall stone foundations, dated from the 1840s and `50s, according to Clemens. Cement was shipped downriver to help build some of the buildings of the young capital city. The building stood throughout the war and Union soldiers crossed at its dam and used the building for shelter during the battle of Shepherdstown on Sept. 19. The other remarkable feature of the property is a set of three large brick-and-stone lime kilns across River Road from the Potomac. Members of the 118th Pennsylvania took shelter there in the fighting.

 

In its 20-year history SHAF has worked to preserve sites relating to the Maryland Campaign. Elsewhere there have been significant victories, at Harpers Ferry where the federal government and private organizations are acquiring sites relative to Stonewall Jackson's siege and capture of the Union garrison on the eve of Antietam; at South Mountain, where Maryland established a park to mark fighting at the gaps where federal troops pressed westward toward Sharpsburg; and in Frederick, Md., where tourism officials are boosting associated sites.

 

 

ACWRT(UK) 2006