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Preservation group awarded $90,000 to help save Civil War site near Williamsport

August 16, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

The nation’s largest Civil War battlefield preservation group has been awarded $90,000 to help save a site near Williamsport that saw action as Confederate troops retreated from the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, officials said.

The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority awarded the money to the Civil War Trust, one of 58 grants totaling $2.7 million that went to Maryland nonprofit organizations.

Of that amount, $360,415 went to local heritage tourism sites, activities and organizations in Washington, Frederick and Carroll counties. 

The authority gives grants to expand tourism-related job creation in the state, according to Tom Riford, president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The grant will be used to preserve land at the site of the Battle of Falling Waters, which currently is on private land along Falling Waters Road in the Williamsport area, Riford said.

When the Confederates were retreating from Gettysburg, there were more than 10 skirmishes and battles in the area, including at Monterey Pass, Leitersburg, Smithsburg, Cearfoss, Clear Spring, Hagerstown, Funkstown, Boonsboro and Williamsport, said Mary Koik, a spokeswoman for the Civil War Trust.

The Battle of Falling Waters was fought on July 14, 1863, when Confederate troops were preparing to cross the Potomac River, according to Riford and Koik.

During the battle, the 1st and 3rd Cavalry Divisions of the Union’s Army of the Potomac charged a Confederate rear guard. The Confederates retreated to a river crossing about two miles away, and Union forces were able to take more than 500  prisoners, according to Riford.

Confederate Brig. Gen. J.J. Pettigrew, who survived Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg, was wounded in the battle and died several days later in Bunker Hill, W.Va., Riford and Koik said.

The Civil War Trust will put up a matching $90,000 as part of the grant award, Riford said. The convention and visitors bureau probably will also donate some money, and the Civil War Trust will raise funds to preserve the battlefield, he said.

Koik declined to go into details about the land preservation effort or how many property owners are involved until a deal has been finalized.

Battlefields can be preserved through a purchase of the land or through conservation easements, she said.

After purchasing battlefield land, the Civil War Trust sometimes turns land over to the National Park Service or other park agencies, Koik and Riford said.

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