Your help is needed to save 3 acres in the famed West Woods at the Antietam Battlefield, the site of the costliest day in American history. With your support, we can preserve these crucial acres and prevent any future potential development at this major battlefield. Join us to protect this sacred hallowed ground for future generations!
Saving these 3 acres at Antietam amounts to a total transaction value of $310,000. Because this land is situated inside the official boundary of the battlefield, it is not eligible for any of the traditional matching-grant sources we would normally use. Thankfully, a few major donors have generously stepped forward cover half the cost! If you can help us raise the last $155,000, a $2-to-$1 match of your donation dollar, we can preserve this land forever. However, we need to move quickly. We have to close on the property no later than September 30 of this year, leaving us in urgent need of your support.
Join Chief Historian Garry Adelman for a virtual tour of the land we hope to preserve forever
The Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg), fought nearly 158 years ago on September 17, 1862, is still the bloodiest day in American history. Far more Americans perished on that day than during the attack on Pearl Harbor, D-Day, or September 11.
Some of the heaviest fighting in the entire Civil War took place on the land we are trying to save. It is the point at which numerous Confederate brigades launched their advances into the West Woods and toward the Dunker Church.
Historian Robert K. Krick wrote that “In the West Woods [Union Generals] Sedgwick and Sumner stumbled into the most abject disaster suffered by any large unit of either side during the battle.”
The maelstrom of battle raged, brave men fell and overwhelmed men – hit simultaneously from front and flank – ran for their lives.
Sergeant William Andrews of the 1st Georgia later recalled that portion of the field:
“You could hear laughing, cursing, yelling and the groans of the wounded and dying, while the awful roar of musketry was appalling. Where the line stood, the ground was covered in blue, and I believe I could have walked on them without putting my feet on the ground.”
Historian Bruce Catton later described this part of the Antietam Battlefield:
“In a square of ground measuring very little more than one thousand yards on a side – cornfield, barnyard, orchard, East and West Woods, and the fields by the turnpike – nearly twelve thousand men were lying on the ground dead or wounded.”
One glance at the maps shows you how essential this tract is, and why it is imperative that we save it, not only to honor the courage, valor, and gallantry of American soldiers, but to protect this critical day in American history.
The Battle of Antietam not only altered the course of the War, it turned the tide of the story of our nation. It marked the end of George McClellan’s Civil War career, while at the same time ending the South’s hope for foreign political recognition.
It gave Abraham Lincoln the victory he needed to issue the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Antietam can be called – without exaggeration – one of the most important, significant, and pivotal battles in the history of the world.
And today, you and I have it within our reach to save one of the most important, significant, and pivotal unprotected tracts of land here.
To thank you for your generous gift to our preservation and education mission today, it would be my honor to send you a recently re-discovered piece of American history. For your gift of $62 (in honor of this 1862 battle) or more, I will send you a specially commissioned reproduction of the Samuel G. Elliott burial map for the Antietam Battlefield that was recently discovered by Timothy Smith and Andrew Dalton of the Adams County (PA) Historical Society.
This map, which was housed in the collection of the New York Public Library, documents the burials of 5,844 soldiers – 2,634 Union and 3,210 Confederate. It also depicts the burials of some 269 horses and the position of 152 cannons. The West Woods, viewable on the map, is surrounded by the graves of the brave men who fought there.
Please consider making your most generous gift now to help raise the $155,000 we need to save these central acres at Antietam.
Given the urgency of a September 30 closing date and the importance of this hallowed ground, I pray that you will make every possible effort to stand with me today.
Jim Lighthizer, American Battlefield Trust President