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Shepherdstown Battlefield may join the National Park Service

By Erik Anderson, Spirit of Jefferson

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Decades worth of efforts to preserve the Shepherdstown Battlefield have recently paid off in a big way. As of April, 740 acres of the land where the Battle of Shepherdstown unfolded just south of the town in September 1862 have been preserved through a combination of conservation land easements and the public acquisition of several properties.

Mike Nickerson, president of the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association (SBPA), is confident that having such a large area of the historic land preserved will enable the approximately 172 acres now held by the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission to eventually become part of the National Park Service, either as part of the Antietam National Battlefield or the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Nickerson said the National Park Service conducted a special resources study in 2012 to determine the historical significance of the Shepherdstown Battlefield area, and the study recommended that it be added to the Antietam park. That expansion of Antietam’s boundaries would require an act of Congress, and Nickerson thinks that is more likely to happen now than in 2012, thanks to both the amount of land that has been preserved and recent research revealing even more about its historical significance than was discovered in the resources study. 

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