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Antietam, Monocacy Battlefields on 2008 "Most Endangered" List


Capt. James Hope, a Union officer from Vermont, painted this early morning scene from the Antietam battle. The intensity of artillery fire at Antietam led Colonel Stephen D. Lee, commander of the Confederate cannons shown here, to describe the battle as "Artillery Hell." This painting depicts the earliest part of the battle. The artist's perspective is close to the present-day location of the Visitor Center. This painting does not represent a moment in time or one event, but a series of events. For example, when the Union infantry on the right side of this painting advanced, the Confederate artillery on the left had already retreated.

Development pressures, cellphone towers, and mining threats are among the concerns that landed the Antietam and Monocacy national battlefields, a portion of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, and seven other battlefields on the 2008 list of "Most Endangered" Civil War battlefields.

“Nearly 20 percent of America's Civil War battlefields have already been destroyed—denied forever to future generations,” says O. James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Preservation Trust. “Once these irreplaceable treasures are gone, they’re gone forever.”

When the trust released its 2008 list last month, it turned to some star power by inviting country music star Trace Adkins, whose great-great-grandfather served in the 31st Louisiana Infantry before being wounded and taken prisoner at Vicksburg, Mississippi, to attend the press conference.

“I’ve been a Civil War enthusiast all my life. When I visited the battlefield in Vicksburg and stood in a trench where my great-great-granddaddy stood, tears came to my eyes," recalled Mr. Adkins. "As a father of five, I believe it is critical that I protect a legacy that belongs not just to my family but to our entire nation.”

The Antietam battle took place on September 17, 1862. While the fight ended Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s first attempt to invade the North, the battle itself was tactically inconclusive in its outcome and resulted in a horrifying 12-hour casualty count of 23,000 that shocked the nation. Today, Antietam, which has served as a model of battlefield preservation, is threatened with a 120-foot-tall cellular tower that would be visible from all of the battlefield’s most famous vantage points.

The Monocacy Battlefield, the backdrop for the "battle that saved Washington,” today is threatened by a proposed waste-to-energy facility with a 150-foot-tall smokestack, which would be visible from much of the battlefield. Other threats include the widening of the interstate that bisects the battlefield and proposed 15-story electric transmission towers.

Details on the other listed endangered battlefields, as well as 15 "at risk" sites, can be found in the attached list.

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