NPS Awards Almost $1 Million to Historic Gettysburg Battlefield

by Lauren Boisvert

The National Park Service recently donated  $926,674.18 in Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants through their American Battlefield Protection Program. NPS donated the funds to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; this, in order to protect an added 4.64 acres of the Gettysburg Battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The American Battlefield Trust, the NPS, and state governments have worked for years to preserve Gettysburg Battlefield; it’s one of the most prolific and iconic sites in Civil War history.

“These grants to state and local governments represent an important investment in public-private conservation efforts across America,” commented National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “They support partnership efforts that thoughtfully consider the needs, concerns, and priorities of communities inextricably connected to these unique places and stories.”  

According to the National Park Service, since 2015 the American Battlefield Trust has matched NPS donations up to $3.69 million, protecting 95 acres of Gettysburg Battlefield. The recent grants go towards protecting Culp’s Hill, which was the first parcel of land bought for initial preservation in the early days after the war.

NPS’ American Battlefield Protection Program spurs other organizations to jump into preservation as well, and works towards the future preservation of any battlefields on American land. In addition to Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants, the ABPP also does Preservation Planning, Battlefield Interpretation and Battlefield Restoration Grants.

What Happened at the Gettysburg Battlefield?

According to the American Battlefield Trust, the Battle at Gettysburg was the bloodiest, most pivotal three days of the Civil War. July 1 marks the day when Confederate forces unknowingly came upon Union cavalry soldiers in Gettysburg. The Confederates were on their way to intercept supplies in Gettysburg, but found themselves in an unplanned engagement instead.

On the second day, July 2, Union troops defend East Cemetery Hill and Culp’s Hill against advancing Confederates. The Confederates come at them hard, but the Union troops hold fast and stand their ground. The Confederates gain ground on either side of the Union line, though. By now, Robert E. Lee thinks the Union army is weak, and goes in for the kill.

George E. Pickett is commanded to advance on Cemetery Ridge where the Union troops are planted. Most of Pickett’s troops were attacking head on with another General; he had no division to trudge through a mile of farmland. In the now-famous Pickett’s Charge, one Confederate brigade managed to make it to the top of the ridge; it was a costly sacrifice for the Confederates. Lee retreats from Gettysburg on July 4, and it’s a Union victory.

Afterward, November 1863, part of Gettysburg Battlefield was used as a cemetery for Union soldiers. At the ceremony for the Gettysburg’s Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg address. He said, in part, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”