13 November 2007 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 6 comments

An important but all too often overlooked portion of the 1862 Maryland Campaign is the September 19-20, 1862 fight at Shepherdstown Ford. In a hard-fought and bloody action, the men of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry, with its novice ieutenant colonel, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, saw its first combat.

I’ve been to the site once. A portion of the battlefield is preserved, as it was fought along the banks of the Potomac River. This means that some of the fighting took place on the towpath to the C & O Canal, which is part of a national park that is the steward of the canal. Thus, much of the important ground on the north (Maryland) side of the river is safe.

The ground on the south (West Virginia) side of the river is another story altogether. It’s all in private hands, and it’s endangered. The ground is largely floodplain, which means it can’t be built upon, but the question is whether the land can be purchased for a reasonable price. The good folks from the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association are doing some excellent work to purchase and preserve the land, and so is the Save Historic Antietam Foundation, one of the oldest and most effective preservation groups operating out there, is working with them.

In addition, Sen. Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia has introduced legislation before Congress to require the National Park Service to perform studies to determine whether the Shepherdstown Ford battlefield meets the criteria to become part of the national battlefield park at Antietam. Let’s hope that this legislation passes and that this particular battlefield is forever preserved.

Kudos to everyone working hard to preserve the Shepherdstown Ford battlefield.

Scridb filter


  1. Tue 13th Nov 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Amen brother.

    Here’s hopin’.


  2. Tue 13th Nov 2007 at 10:42 pm


    Do you know anything about the book on the battle that’s going to be released shortly? Is it worth owning?


  3. Mike Peters
    Wed 14th Nov 2007 at 1:09 pm


    Is that the book that Schroeder Publications is doing — Shepherdstown: Last Clash of the Antietam Campaign –by Thomas McGrath?


  4. Wed 14th Nov 2007 at 3:38 pm


    That’s the one.


  5. Wed 14th Nov 2007 at 5:08 pm

    I met Tom while he was doing research on the book at Philly’s Civil War Library and Museum about 7 years ago – Philadelphia’s 118th PA Corn Exchange Regiment was involved in the battle, and got the worst of it, the 20th ME getting off very light IIRC. We had a nice conversation and he followed through on a promise to send me a copy of his Thomas booklet on the Maryland Campaign, “Maryland September”. I’m thinking he was an NPS employee at one of the Rev. War forts in NY at the time. At least we can assume he did not throw this book together overnight.

    As for SHAF, we are still in negotiations re: the Cement Mill property. Things are looking good. There are some technicalities that must be worked out, and these deals are never done until they’re done-done.

  6. Tom Clemens
    Fri 16th Nov 2007 at 12:17 am

    Thanks for the mention Eric. The SBPA has bought a number of Tom McGrath’s book and encourage everyone to buy it from their website as it profits their preservation efforts.
    I wrote the intro on McGrath’s book and it is a good treatment of the battle.

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