REMEMBER HARPERS FERRY!
The School House Ridge Battlefield of Harpers Ferry can be saved if the citizens of West Virginia and the United States act now!
On April 28, 1999, the Jefferson County Planning Commission approved developer plans to build over 200 homes on the School House Ridge Battlefield. In particular, the land where A.P. Hill made a decisive attack on the Union troops at Harpers Ferry will be desecrated by the bulldozers that continue to rip through our nation's Civil War battlegrounds. Hill's attack resulted in the surrender of nearly 13,000 Union soldiers, the largest number of soldiers captured at any single battle during the war. Though casualties were small given the large number of troops involved, it cannot be forgotten that soldiers fought and died here - the land is sacred and should be preserved as part of our state and national heritage.
Other facts underscore the sanctity of this land. Here was the home of John Brown's Fort, a revered symbol of the civil rights movement. After relocation, the fort's foundation remains an important historical landmark of Harpers Ferry. In addition, the farm on School House Ridge Battlefield contains 1864 earthworks and trenches that are among the best preserved in the nation. Further, discovered artifacts provide evidence of a prehistoric site that still requires archaeological investigation (see map images).
An Opportunity for Preservation
Including the Murphy Farm, the area immediately west of Harpers Ferry is under tremendous development pressure. Unless each of us makes a conscious choice to try to preserve this open space, thousands of new homes may quickly sprawl across the landscape. In addition to an increased tax burden for new schools, roads, emergency and social services, an important part of our national history will be lost forever. On the other hand, if we act now to support legislation that may yield to funding and acquisition of the School House Ridge Civil War Battlefield, we may indeed prevail and create permanent open spaces on the western flank of Harpers Ferry and Bolivar Heights.On October 19, 1999, the Jefferson County Commission heard from an overflow crowd of citizens that the School House Ridge Battlefield should be saved. Some spoke about the preserving open spaces, others regarding traffic and increased taxes, still others emphasized the land's historical significance. Nearly all supported the proposal to expand the boundaries of the park. In a dramatic moment, folks were asked to stand if they supported the resolution. In the same court house where John Brown was tried in 1859, an overwhelming majority of Jefferson County residents stood to support legislative that would save the School House Ridge. Combined with many support letters and almost 500 petition signatures, the Jefferson County Commission approved the resolution. This event was an important milestone for the citizens of our county, our state, and our nation. The resolution is also the beginning of a march that will, if the effort is sustained, eventually result in the preservation of the School House Ridge Battlefield. We have come far, but the battle is not yet finished!
The time to act is NOW. What can YOU do to save the School House Ridge Battlefield? Here are some steps:
To learn more about the historical significance of Harpers Ferry, visit the National Historical Park Service's Virtual Visitors Center. Much Civil War battleground preservation information may also be found at the Civil War Trust Fund.
Updates regarding progress will be posted periodically. Any e-mail feedback regarding the site is welcome.
Thanks for your efforts on behalf of the School House Ridge Battlefield.