Ever since the American Battlefield Trust was rebranded in May of 2018, it has been tackling a major preservation effort on Gettysburg’s famous Seminary Ridge. Though just 18 acres, this property sits on ground that witnessed some of the fiercest fighting on July 1, 1863. Threatened by potential development, this hallowed ground was fortunately saved this week by the Trust and its supporters!
The 18-acre parcel of land on Seminary Ridge sits adjacent to the Lutheran Seminary and the Mary Thompson House – also known as Lee’s Headquarters, another major victory for the Trust. The Iron Brigade, as well as New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians, were ordered to hold back North Carolina and South Carolina troops there. Confederate troops suffered heavy casualties there, but with more Confederate troops pouring in, they were able to force the Federals back down the Chambersburg Pike and into town. The location, size, and significance of the property made it one of the organization’s most expensive victories at $3.5 million.
Nonetheless, the significance of this purchase can be affirmed by many renowned Civil War historians. “Preservation of these 18 acres will allow visitors to gain a much better grasp of action that preceded the final Union withdrawal to high ground around Cemetery Hill,” said Gary Gallagher. James McPherson even added that the ground “is vulnerable to potential development, so the acquisition and easements of these acres will save a crucial part of the battlefield.”
There is not doubt that this property at Gettysburg will be a significant addition to the preserved sections of the battlefield. It is a major victory for the Trust, historians, and visitors alike.