July 27, 2015: In early July, The Department of Interior released the final study documents of the National Park Service’s (NPS) Special Resource Study (SRS) of the Shepherdstown Battlefield. The Battle of Shepherdstown occurred on September 19 and 20, 1862 involving approximately 8,000 to 10,000 troops and resulted in 677 casualties.
The SRS concluded that the 510 acre site of the 1862 Battle of Shepherdstown would be preferably included within the Antietam National Battlefield Park. The SRS studied various options and possible boundary adjustments including an assessment of including the Shepherdstown site within the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. “As such, each of these boundary adjustment options is included in the study alternatives, with Antietam National Battlefield being the preferable option due to its historical and geographical connections to the Battle of Shepherdstown.”
The 1862 Maryland Campaign of the Army of Northern Virginia included battles of South ountain, Harpers Ferry, Antietam and ending in a battle near Shepherdstown in what is now West Virginia. The SRS concluded that: “The inclusion of the Shepherdstown battlefield into Antietam National Battlefield would provide visitors the opportunity to have an expanded understanding of the events directly following the Battle of Antietam and the culmination of the Maryland Campaign. The SRS further concludes it “would propose to adjust the existing boundary of Antietam National Battlefield to include areas of the Shepherdstown battlefield that contribute to an understanding of the significance of the Battle of Antietam and the Maryland Campaign.”
In early 2012, the NPS held two scoping meetings seeking public comments regarding the proposed SRS. “In total, approximately 136 people attended the scoping meetings. … Public response received by the National Park Service was predominately supportive of the study and enthusiastic concerning the interpretation and protection of the Shepherdstown battlefield.” The preliminary SRS was released in August 2014 and a public review period was conducted for two months. During this period, 334 individuals corresponded with the NPS. Two public meetings were held in September attended by approximately 93 individuals. “Commenters expressed overwhelming support for” … the management option that the…“Antietam National Boundary Adjustment as the most effective and efficient way to preserve the Shepherdstown battlefield.”
“If Congress were to authorize a legislative boundary that would encompass the Shepherdstown battlefield as part of … Antietam National Battlefield, there would be no change to existing landownership…” “Any change to land ownership or use would be in the future as the National Park Service is able to acquire battlefield land from willing sellers and donors.”
The effort to involve the Federal government in helping to save and preserve the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown has been the result of the work of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc (SBPA) and its individual members. SBPA is a non-profit corporation, organized in 2004 dedicated to saving and preserving the core of the site of the Battle of Shepherdstown. Approximately 105 acres have been saved through conservation easements and land purchases. Also, approximately $1.1 million has been raised to save battlefield land through grants and membership contributions during the last ten years. If you would like to help save more of the battlefield and learn more about SBPA, please go to: www.battleofshepherdstown.org.