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Feds to fund Antietam farm fixup

March 12, 1998|By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Feds to fund Antietam farm fixup

The National Park Service plans to spend $3.7 million to restore three historic farmsteads at Antietam National Battlefield.

Battlefield Superintendent John Howard said Wednesday the restoration work should stabilize the homes for the next 75 to 100 years.

"I can't express enough how good we feel about this," Howard said.

"It will provide a whole new look of interpretation for our park visitors about the people who lived here before and after the battle. There are a lot of smiling faces around here," he said.

The allocation was announced Wednesday by U.S. Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md., and Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md.

The senators said that the project still must be approved by Congress.

"The funding being made available by the National Park Service helps to preserve and protect that part of America which is a critical component of our own history," Sarbanes said in a press release.


The three farmsteads to be restored are:

* The Otto House, constructed in the late 1700s and part of a working farm at the time of the battle.

It's believed to be the second oldest structure on the battlefield and served as a field hospital during and after the battle, Howard said.

* The Sherrick House and smokehouse, built around 1830. The structures also were part of a working farm at the time of the battle and the house was used as a field hospital. Both the Sherrick and Otto houses were close to the action during the Burnside Bridge segment of the battle, Howard said.

* The Mumma House and farm buildings, which were burned on the day of the battle and rebuilt in 1863.

"The battle occurred on farms, and we want to remind people of that," Howard said. "Over 100,000 troops were marching on farms and past people's houses."

Howard said this will be the first time the park has received construction funds since 1962, when the visitor center was built.

Howard said the park has been trying for years to obtain funding for the project.

The houses have been shored up on a piecemeal basis, but major projects couldn't be undertaken on the battlefield's annual budget of $1.7 million, Howard said.

"It's a great investment in the future of the battlefield," he said.

During the Sept. 17, 1862, Battle of Antietam, more than 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing in what was the bloodiest single day of fighting in American history.

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