Via user Barrycdog at CW Talk, comes news that the Civil War Preservation Trust will purchase the property where Robert E. Lee made his headquarters during the Battle of Gettysburg, 151 years ago this week.
“As far as preserving a historically significant structure and part of the battlefield, this is biggest deal we’ve ever done,” said Jim Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust, a Washington-based nonprofit group that has preserved 40,000 acres of land in 20 states. “Lee’s headquarters is one of the most important unprotected historic structures in America.”
Lighthizer said the trust would purchase the property, which includes a Quality Inn and a brew pub, from Belmar Partnership for $5.5 million and spend an additional $400,000 to $500,000 to demolish the modern structures and restore the historic building.
On July 1, 1863, the property was the scene of violent hand-to-hand combat between advancing Confederate troops and Union troops attempting to protect the western entrance to the town and the railroad line, which still runs behind the parcel.
By day’s end, Union troops had retreated to Seminary Ridge, and Lee, the Confederate commander, established his headquarters at the house.
“It was the nerve center,” historian and licensed Gettysburg battlefield guide Tim Smith said in a video produced for Tuesday’s announcement at the Lee headquarters.
The house, believed to have been built in 1833, was occupied by a widow named Mary Thompson at the time of the war and was co-owned by U.S. Rep. Thaddeus Stevens – a force behind the passage of the 13th Amendment ending slavery.
I had no idea about that bit about Thaddeus Stevens. Small (19th century) world. Congrats to the Civil War Preservation Trust and all its members! You can help contribute to this project here.