Today I had a very nice conversation with Laurie Harding, President of the Hunterstown Preservation Society. This was the first time Laurie and I spoke – we’ve previously corresponded by email, and some of my readers might be familiar with some exchanges we’ve had here concerning the interpretation of this cavalry battle between Union BG Judson Kilpatrick and Confederate BG Wade Hampton’s troopers on July 2, 1863. Laurie and her group have made yeoman’s efforts in order to try to save this currently pristine, beautiful little battlefield only 4 miles from Gettysburg – the sight of George Armstrong Custer’s first mounted charge as a brigadier. The battlefield is under enormous threat to be turned into a McMansion housing development. The historic Felty barn, where many of Custer’s troopers holed up to shoot at Hampton’s men, and which was a prominent and famous feature of the battlefield, was torn down by its owner recently.
This past Saturday, Eric Wittenberg and I gave a tour of Hunterstown to the members of the Harrisburg (PA) Civil War Roundtable as part of our all-day tour of Jeb Stuart’s Ride to Gettysburg (based on the tour in our book). For perhaps a very short time, visitors can still see this battlefield – but soon, it may be plowed under so thousands of families can have a place to build their cookie-cutter homes. Laurie and the Society are raising money to do all they can to stop the bulldozers and save this important piece of American and Gettysburg history. The group is also putting together a monument to memorialize the fighting there.
Let’s hope the property owners have a change of heart, and place more importance on history than the almighty dollar – and that our local government officials get involved. In the meantime, how can you help? Please visit the Hunterstown Historical Society website, join them, and do whatever you can to make your voice heard. I’ve joined at the Preservationist level, and will be visiting members of the group next month while I’m in Gettysburg.