Saturday, August 13, 2005

41: “Straban and Adams County: Hands Off the Lady Farm!”

Just in case there might be any lingering doubts, this message is for the Straban Township Supervisors (aka: "The Strabaddies"), and the Adams County Commissioners, including the Adams County Economic Development Corporation (aka: "The Addams Family”).

Hands off the Daniel Lady Farm! Do not even think of applying your new zoning plan to the Lady Farm. And most of all, disabuse yourselves of any thoughts you may entertain toward the exercise of eminent domain in relation to the Lady Farm.

Yes, we know "The Strabaddies" want the Daniel Lady Farm for a new road as a second exit from former "Strabaddy" Roy Thomas’s (old farm) development next to and behind the Giant on York Street. Yes, we know "The Strabaddies” and "The Addams Family" covet the 140 acres for development.

The answer is a resounding “NO”!

On the evening of July 1, 1863, Lieutenant General Richard Stoddard Ewell, commanding the Second Corps of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, ordered his Second Division, commanded by Major General Edward “Old Allegheny” Johnson, to bivouac his troops on the Daniel Lady Farm property, in a line about 400 yards parallel and north of the Hanover Road, on the east slope of Benner’s Hill. The division was comprised of four brigades: Brigadier General George H. Steuart’s mixed brigade of regiments from Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia; Colonel J. M. Williams, commanding Nicholl’s Louisiana Brigade; Brigadier General John M. Jones Virginia Brigade; and Brigadier General James A. Walker, Commanding the Stonewall Brigade of Virginians (the brigade once commanded by the legendary Stonewall Jackson). With the infantry was the Division Artillery Battalion commanded by Major Joseph W. Latimer, the pride of Virginia Military Institute, and nicknamed “the boy major” for his short stature. His courage was anything but short.

At the extreme left of the Confederate line, it was the responsibility of Brigadier General Walker’s Stonewall Brigade to guard the left flank. On the morning of July 2, the Second Virginia Infantry Regiment, commanded by a man with the unlikely “northern” name of John Quincy Adams Nadenbousch, sent out pickets to the next ridge east of Benner’s Hill, Brinkerhoff’s Ridge. The pickets ran into dismounted Union cavalry from the 3rd Pennsylvania and the 1st New Jersey (Purnell Legion), and a single section (2 guns) from the Union Horse Artillery astride the Hanover Road leading east. Rumors of Union cavalry in that direction had been a major factor the evening before when General Ewell decided not to attack Culp’s and Cemetery Hills while his left flank was unprotected (Johnson’s Division had not quite arrived at that point.)

Skirmishing went on all day long on the 2nd, with elements of the 2nd Virginia tangling repeatedly with elements of the 3rd Pennsylvania and the 10th New York.

So important was this action, now called the Battle of Brinkerhoff’s Ridge, that it may have had a very large impact on the Battle of Gettysburg.

That night, Ewell, who had decided to attack, rather than “demonstrate” in front of the enemy on Culp’s Hill, as his orders from Lee allowed, ordered his men forward. Johnson’s Division would go in on the left, while Rodes’ Division and Early’s Division would assault East Cemetery Hill. These attacks were in support of the main assault on the Confederate right, by Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s First Corps, Army of Northern Virginia. Longstreet’s attack bogged down in the wild melees caused by the disposition of Major General Daniel Sickles’ Third Corp, Army of the Potomac: fighting in the Wheatfield, the Peach Orchard, Devils Den, Little Round Top, the Valley of Death, the Slaughter Pen, Excelsior Field, and eventually, up on Cemetery Ridge itself. While this was occurring, Ewell moved to the attack.

Johnson’s Division was assigned the left flank of the attack, and would assault the Union positions on the lower (rear) crest of Culp’s Hill, and around on the main crest, defended by a New York brigade under command of Brigadier General George Sears Greene. But Johnson’s Division went forward with only three of its four brigades, being forced to leave the Stonewall Brigade behind to guard the flank. As a result, when the Stonewall Brigade did eventually move forward, the assault was nearly over, and it was too late. Had they been present for the entire assault, they could very well have swung the tide of the engagement, and indeed, had the Confederates captured Culp’s Hill, the outcome of the whole battle might have changed in their favor.

Because of the history behind the Daniel Lady Farm, bivouac of, and headquarters of Johnson’s Division, and later Johnson’s Division Hospital, where Major Latimer had his amputations performed, the
Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association purchased the property in the late 1990s, and has been working hard to preserve and restore the farm to its condition at the time of the battle.

Painstaking research in such areas as finding coats of paint and matching the colors in which the buildings were painted, adding a set of period cupolas to the barn, and repainting it, tearing down the old silo put up in the 1940s, has all begun to pay off. Now the Lady Farm, with a farmhouse and barn built in the early 1840s, is almost completely restored, though work like that is never really finished. The
GBPA has done a masterful job. To protect it from development GBPA took an easement on the property, and had it added to the registry of National Historic Sites.

The Daniel Lady Farm is perhaps, after Lee’s Headquarters on the other side of Gettysburg, the most important Confederate site north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Eventually, it should be embraced within the boundaries of the Gettysburg Battlefield National Military Park. That will happen when some future Congressional action changes the Park’s boundaries.

"The Strabaddies" and "The Addams Family" want to put a road through that 140 acre site, and perhaps a small development, or add it to the housing development that will soon surround the Lady Farm. They may try to invoke eminent domain after the latest United States Supreme Court decision in the case Kelo v. The City of New Haven (Connecticut).

The answer is, “Don’t even try it!” Any efforts to change the ownership of, or infringe upon in any way, the Daniel Lady Farm, will be met by the strongest of measures. They would also be a colossal waste of the tax-payer’s money, as legal expenses for the township and the county governments would rapidly escalate over the years the court cases would last.

Hands off the Lady Farm!

“Legislation without representation is tyranny!”


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Missouri/ShowMe said...

Thank you for the beautiful essay, and the history lesson.

I have always had a passing fancy for American History, and I have dabbled in reading alittle of it.

In the past few months, the passing fancy has turned into a heartfelt passion, realizing that money and greed, holds little regard for what few bits of land are left to our generations to come.

I had no idea that out in public, in front of God and everybody, anyone, would stand up and declare that a CasiNO could improve upon the likes of the historical reverence Gettysburg so deserves.

Im wordless, when I try to explain their reasons, and/or ideas, that in my humble opinion, are self serving, and nothing more.

Thanks again for the beautiful essay, and the further insight into the battle that must endure, to prevent greedy investors and politicians from taking over what belongs to AMERICA, not to just a few Americans.

If all of us, don't take a stand at Gettysburg, how much further will this desecration of historically relevant lands, become common practice across our great United States?


Randy said...

Because of the kindness of a friend, I've had the pleasure of visiting the Daniel Lady Farm. At the time, work yet remained but the restoration already completed allowed the natural beauty and majesty of the old farmstead to steadily re-emerge. The author has carefully and thoroughly documented the undeniable historical significance of this key parcel of land. What remains is to protect these grounds so that the farm and our shared heritage can be preserved both to honor of the men who built our history and to benefit the generations to come. Both deserve as much.