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Battlefield study set

By Staff | May 6, 2011

The National Park Service announced this week that it will begin a special resource study of the Shepherdstown Battlefield, which could be the first step in a long process to incorporate the battlefield into the NPS.

The study will focus on battlefield lands located approximately one mile southeast of Shepherdstown, most of which are currently privately owned, and the study will “obtain information from professional historians and the general public during the information gathering stage … then again when the draft alternatives are presented,” according to a news release.

Rebecca Harriet, superintendent at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, said in a phone interview Tuesday that the study is being coordinated by the NPS’s Denver office and it could be the first step in making the Shepherdstown Battlefield part of the NPS.

“It’s a possibility … that’s what part of the study is about,” Harriet said. “This is just to let the public know that the process is being started, there will be public meetings as we go along.”

To be eligible for “favorable consideration as a unit of the National Park System, an area must possess nationally significant natural, cultural or recreational resources; be a suitable and feasible addition to the system; and require direct NPS management instead of by some other governmental agency or by the private sector,” according to NPS information.

The NPS is scheduled to begin the study this summer, and the it could take about one and a half years to complete. Following the study’s completion, a report with its findings and recommendations will be submitted to Congress.

The Battle of Shepherdstown was fought between Union and Confederate forces on Sept. 19 and Sept. 20, 1862, following the Battle of Antietam. The battle was one of the last battles of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Maryland Campaign.

Ed Wenschoff, acting superintendent at Antietam National Battlefield, said the Shepherdstown Battlefield may make a good addition to Antietam and there is a lot of history to tell, but the study will determine the best course of action for the battlefield.

Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc. has been working to preserve the battlefield for several years. SBPA President Edward Dunleavy could not be reached for comment on the study Tuesday.

Additional information on the study can be obtained by contacting the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park at 304-535-678, Antietam National Battlefield at 301-432-2243 or the C&O Canal National Historical Park at 301-714-2214.

Information on the special resource study and boundary study criteria is available online at http://planning.nps.gov/document/criteria05final.pdf.

Additional information on the SBPA is available online at www.battleofshepherdstown.org.