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Elevating a Battle Site From a Historical Footnote

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  • Stephen Recker
    Elevating a Battle Site From a Historical Footnote By Linda Wheeler 10/14/2007 Washington Post (DC) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
    Message 1 of 4 , Oct 25, 2007
      Elevating a Battle Site From a Historical Footnote

      By Linda Wheeler


      Washington Post (DC)


      When discussing the Battle of Shepherdstown, Edward and Carol Dunleavy
      would often get the same response: "The battle of what?"

      But after three years of lectures, rallies and fundraisers to help
      preserve the West Virginia battlefield, the Dunleavys say they believe
      1862 skirmish, known as the last battle of Robert E. Lee's Maryland
      Campaign, might finally be getting its place in history.

      Edward Dunleavy, president of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation
      Association, and Carol Dunleavy, its secretary and webmaster, said their
      group originally formed to stop proposed residential development of the
      battlefield because it would be inconsistent with the rural character of
      that part of Jefferson County.

      But the association's mission soon grew to include getting recognition
      protection for the battlefield, which is about 1.5 miles southeast of
      Shepherdstown and includes a 200-year-old brick house, high bluffs
      overlooking the Potomac River and the remains of an 1850s cement factory
      on the shoreline.

      The association's efforts got the attention of U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd
      W.Va.), who introduced legislation last month to request a study by the
      National Park Service to determine the suitability and feasibility of
      including the battlefield in the national Civil War battlefield system.

      "There are 300 acres in the core battlefield, and we've already saved 84
      acres through easements," Edward Dunleavy said. "We intend for the site
      be preserved as a park."

      The Shepherdstown battle, which played out Sept. 19 and 20 in 1862, has
      never received much attention because it occurred after the cataclysmic
      Battle of Antietam on the 17th. The Shepherdstown battle is sometimes
      called the Battle of Boteler's Ford or Pack Horse Ford, referring to the
      place where the armies crossed the Potomac.

      The Army of Northern Virginia was in retreat from Antietam and headed
      toward the perceived safety of Virginia. At the time, Shepherdstown was
      Virginia, a state that had seceded from the Union. In less than a year,
      Sheperdstown would be part of the new state of West Virginia, a Union

      Lee sat on horseback in the middle of the river, watching the last of
      exhausted troops cross into Virginia at dawn Sept. 19. At that moment,
      might not have expected the ever-cautious Gen. George B. McClellan to
      pursue him, but the Army of the Potomac caught up with the Army of
      Northern Virginia about three hours later.

      Brig. Gen. William Nelson Pendleton had the artillery cover of 33
      in place on the bluff above the river to guard the ford when Maj. Gen.
      Fitz John Porter's V Corps came into sight on the Maryland side. Seventy
      Union cannons were soon arrayed against the Confederates, who were
      to fall back. Some Union artillery shells crashed into houses in
      Shepherdstown, causing panic among the residents.

      A small infantry detachment crossed the river and seized several of
      Pendleton's guns before crossing back over the river for the night.

      The next morning, the Union men crossed the river again and climbed the
      bluffs, and an infantry battle ensued around the brick house. The Union
      forces were outnumbered 2 to 1, and a retreat was called, with some of
      soldiers dying as they fell down the steep bluffs under Confederate

      The battle and retreat took place over four hours. Approximately 900 men
      were involved, with more than 600 casualties. The Army of the Potomac
      returned to Maryland, and the Confederates retreated farther into the
      Shenandoah Valley.

      The battlefield is a serene place now. The ford and a ruined dam built
      the cement factory are visible, and anglers use them to fish. Trees
      growing on what was the factory floor are framed by broken walls of
      cut stone blocks. The rugged bluffs that rise above are a challenge to
      experienced climber. At the top, the ground levels off into soybean
      and wooded areas.

      The old farmhouse, now a rental property, shows the marks of battle. A
      cannonball protrudes from the brick wall on the second floor, just
      below a
      bedroom window.

      Linda Wheeler may be reached at 540-465-8934 or cwwheel@....
    • Darmok4349@aol.com
      Bill, Thanks for your feedback. I have done several of these movies over the years and this has always been an issue for me. I have always found it difficult
      Message 2 of 4 , Oct 25, 2007

        Thanks for your feedback. I have done several of these movies over the years and this has always been an issue for me. I have always found it difficult to go into a lot of details on the battle itself. The basic concept of the film was to do a basic overview of the entire campaign and it's political implications and how it changed the the area around Sharpsburg from this anonymous piece of landscape to and American icon.


        -----Original Message-----
        From: Bill and Glenna Jo Christen <gwjchris@...>
        To: TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 7:29 am
        Subject: [TalkAntietam] RE: Feedback Requested - Antieam - A watershed of Blood


        I enjoyed your work. While I expected a more detailed account of the battle, you
        did present a good overview of the campaign.

        Bill Christen

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