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Funds sought to save battlefield land

May 30, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The head of a local organization trying to save a Civil War battlefield near Shepherdstown, W.Va., has presented county officials with four alternatives for funding the purchase of the site.

The first two alternatives call for the National Park Service or Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to include the battlefield within a national park boundary, said Ed Dunleavy, president of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association LLC.

Funding for the purchase of the battlefield site could come from sources like the federal government and grants, Dunleavy told the Jefferson County Commission Thursday.

Dunleavy said he wrote a letter to U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., asking him to get the process started but has not received a response from the senator.

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"It's kind of up to them. I just wanted to let them know we've made a lot of progress," said Dunleavy, explaining that some land at the site has already been preserved through conservation easements.

If the battlefield is not included within a national park boundary, alternatives three and four call for other entities like the Jefferson County Commission and the state of West Virginia to pitch in money for the land purchase, Dunleavy said.

Depending on which alternative might be used, the commission could allocate $411,667 or $617,500 and perhaps be in the position to negotiate to have up to 40 acres set aside at the site for county recreation programs, Dunleavy said.

Earlier this year, Dunleavy asked the commission to allocate up to $1 million to help purchase the battle site.

Two commission members said they did not believe the county could give that much money for the purchase, and commission member Rusty Morgan said at the time he believed there would be more community support for the land acquisition if the property also could be used for other purposes, like recreation.

Before any county money is used for a land purchase, Jefferson County Commission member Dale Manuel said Sunday that the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission needs to evaluate the site and determine if it is a viable recreation spot.

Also, the Jefferson County Department of Planning, Zoning and Engineering needs to determine whether manageable traffic flow and adequate parking are available if it is used for recreation.

"All those pieces of the puzzle have to go in first," Manuel said.

County Commission President Greg Corliss said last week that he thinks the county's parks and recreation commission needs to review Dunleavy's proposals.

Dunleavy is attempting to get more than 100 acres purchased to help preserve the battlefield and thinks it will cost about $2 million.

The Battle of Shepherdstown took place Sept. 19 and 20, 1862, on land east of Shepherdstown off Trough Road.

After the Battle of Antietam, Gen. Robert E. Lee began to pull his Army of Northern Virginia back across the Potomac River, crossing at Pack Horse Ford.

Union soldiers arrived on the Maryland side of the river the following morning and began to shoot at southern troops across the water.

There were more than 600 casualties, according to historians.

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