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Roulette Farm said safe from development

June 14, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

SHARPSBURG - National Park Service and preservation officials said Friday they have no major concerns about the historic Roulette Farm along Bloody Lane being for sale because it cannot be developed.

"In essence the government purchased the development rights on the property and it will always remain farmland as a result, regardless of the owner," said Dennis Frye, president of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites Inc.

Because the park service bought scenic easements to the roughly 180-acre farm about 10 years ago, Frye and Thomas Clemens, president of Save Historic Antietam Foundation Inc., said they have virtually no concerns about the land being for sale.

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It is because of those easements that the association isn't interested in buying the land, Frye said.

The park service cannot buy the land because the asking price of $935,000 is too high, said John Howard, battlefield superintendent.

"We're concerned, but there's nothing we can do," Howard said. "We consider the farm to be protected."

Howard E. Miller Jr. said he and his wife, Virginia, are selling the property because they have retired and want to move into a smaller home that requires less upkeep.

The 18100 Bloody Lane land includes five pre-Civil War buildings - the house, barn, slave quarters, an old icehouse and a log smokehouse, Miller said.

The property stretches northeast of Bloody Lane and abuts part of Antietam Creek as well as the Mumma Farm to the west, officials said.

"We would like to see it stay the way it is," said Miller, 75.

The land looks similar to how it was around the time of the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862.

"Bloody Lane is one of the most famous landmarks on the battlefield," Frye said.

It was on that land that Confederate and Union soldiers clashed in a three-hour skirmish in the bloodiest single day of fighting in American history.

Bloody Lane was probably the second bloodiest area of the Battle of Antietam, after The Cornfield, according to Frye.

Of about 15,000 soldiers involved in the skirmish, around 5,000 were wounded or killed there, Howard said.

Confederate soldiers were entrenched in the natural Sunken Road, which would later become "Bloody Lane," as Union soldiers crossed the Roulette Farm to attack, officials said.

The roadway, whose limestone had been depressed from the wear of horse-drawn wagons and carts, provided a strong advantage for the Confederate soldiers, Frye said.

Firearms were typically fired high, so the Union soldiers tended to miss the Confederates, Frye said. Meanwhile, the Confederates were mowing down Union troops as they came over the open landscape, sometimes at point blank range, he said.

After three hours of fighting, Union soldiers would eventually crack the Confederates' center and occupy the lane, Frye said.

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