Thursday, September 22, 2011

News---Gettysburg NMP Adds The Josiah Benner Farm To the Battlefield Park

NPS Acquires Benner House, Mark Walters, Gettysburg Times, September 22, 2011.

The Gettysburg National Military Park announced its most recent property acquisition Wednesday afternoon, the Josiah Benner House in Straban Township. Purchased in May, GNMP took possession of the nine-acre, 980 Old Harrisburg Road property Monday. In 2001, the park purchased the three-acre parcel next door, which includes the Josiah Benner barn, but this $405,000 purchase of the farmhouse and springhouse completed the package.

The farmhouse, springhouse and barn are all contributing features to the park's listing on the National Register of Historic Places according to GNMP spokesperson Katie Lawhon. Lawhon said that the property was previously a private residence and that billboards removed from the site in June. "Even though there is a Congressionally authorized boundary of the park, inside that boundary there is still more than 900 acres of non-protected lands," said Katie Lawhon of the 5,989 acre park.

Lawhon said that GNMP received help from the Civil War Trust, America's largest non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of America's Civil War battlefields. In a 24-year span, the Civil War Trust has worked to preserve more than 30,000 acres of battlefield land at 110 battlefields in 20 states.

"It's a really exciting property," said Civil War Trust spokesperson Mary Koik of the Josiah Benner property. "Not just the land itself but the historic structures that played a role in the battle and its aftermath." According to Lawhon, the Josiah Benner Farmhouse predates the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg. Lawhon said that the house's location on Old Harrisburg Road placed it in line of advance by Gen. Jubal Early's Confederate Division on the afternoon of July 1, 1863, the first of the three-day battle.

"In an effort to attack and outflank Union positions on and near Barlow's Knoll, Confederates had to pass around these solid obstacles," Lawhon said of the two-story brick houseset on a stone foundation and the two-and-a-half story stone, Pennsylvania Barn. "The walls of the buildings provided cover for skirmishers of both sides during various portions of the July 1 conflict. At the close of fighting on that day, the house and barn were pressed into use as temporary Confederate field hospitals. Several Union soldiers and officers were also carried there for treatment."

Lawhon added that the one-story springhouse just east of the farmhouse was likely used as a temporary cover for skirmishers of both armies and would have provided water and "refrigerated" food for wounded soldiers in the hospitals of the Benner house and barn. Lawhon said the National Park Service works closely with the Civil War Trust in acquiring historically significant properties, primarily from willing sellers. She said the poor economy and housing market contributed to the recent selling of many properties.

In March, GNMP purchased the 95 acre Gettysburg Country Club in Cumberland Township for $1.4 million, protecting what is now known as the Emanuel Harman Farm from future development. In June, the Adams County Commissioners sponsored the Civil War Trust for two grants totaling approximately $217,000 to partially fund the acquisition of two properties along the Baltimore Pike - 1200 and 1230 Baltimore Pike - which are part of what once was Henery Spangler's farm, where scores of Union and Confederate dead were buried.

Text Source: Gettysburg Times
Image Source: Gettysburg Daily

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