Battlefield plan in works

September 30, 2002|by TARA REILLY

A Middletown, Md., preservation group says it would like to increase the public's interest in the South Mountain Battlefield and has begun laying the groundwork for long-term plans to accomplish that goal.

The Civil War battlefield was named a state battlefield about two years ago, but not much has been done to rejuvenate it since then, members of the Central Maryland Heritage League said Sunday.

"At this point they haven't done a whole heck of a lot, and we think they should," said Martin Smith, vice president of the heritage league.


So the group called a meeting with state organizations last week, in which it was decided to form a committee to develop a master plan that will outline future goals for the battlefield.

Smith said three state groups and the league own portions of the battlefield. The league owns 32 acres, according to its Web site.

The committee will be chaired by Neal Welch, the Department of Natural Resources' planning chief, said league President Dean Considine.

Considine said there has been some discussion to create a visitors center, museum or gift shop. North Carolina and Wisconsin Civil War brigades are also interested in erecting monuments at the battlefield, he said.

"We believe there needs to be a master plan that lays that out on paper for everyone to see," Considine said.

Considine, however, said some groups and local residents are concerned that monuments will begin to overcrowd the battlefield if the North Carolina and Wisconsin monuments are approved.

"A lot of people don't want this to be made into Antietam or Gettysburg with all the monuments," he said.

He said the committee will be appointed within a month, and a draft plan should be completed at the beginning of 2003.

"We're going to keep pushing," Considine said. "Things will get done in a timely way."

The plan's final approval will be determined by the different groups that own sections of the battlefield, Considine said.

"You have a lot of players with a lot of power," he said. "They will all decide ultimately on what is included in the plan. It has to be a joint effort."

South Mountain was the site of a Sept. 14, 1862, battle that involved about 10,000 Confederate soldiers and 25,000 Union troops, according to the league's Web site.

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