- The Washington Times - Monday, February 21, 2005

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Delaware is keeping its place in Civil War history, or at least its place at Gettysburg.

Delaware officials were told a few years ago that the state’s commemorative memorial at Gettysburg, Pa., would have to be moved to make way for a battlefield restoration.

After reviewing their plans however, National Park Service officials now say Delaware’s memorial, the last to be approved before a moratorium on new monuments and markers at the historic site took effect, won’t have to be moved after all.

“It’s going to stay where it is,” said Katie Lawhon, spokeswoman for the Gettysburg National Military Park.

The decision is welcome news in Delaware, where lawmakers were concerned enough to draft legislation in recent years directing state officials to ensure that, if moved, the memorial retained a position of prominence.

“This language has been in our bond bill for a couple of years,” said Dan Griffith, director of the state Historic Preservation Office.

In bond bill legislation introduced in January, the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs was instructed to ensure that any movement of the memorial be conducted “in a manner consistent with the original purposes surrounding the monument’s installation and that any such relocation be conducted so that the monument is re-established in a position of prominence.”

“There’s really nobody who’s a custodian of it, so it made sense to instruct the division to take care of it,” said House Majority Leader Wayne Smith, Wilmington Republican and founder of the Delaware Civil War Society, which raised money for the $300,000 memorial.

State museum administrator James Stewart, a founding member of the Central Delaware Civil War Roundtable, journeyed to Gettysburg with Mr. Griffith a couple of years ago for a Park Service briefing on plans to relocate the memorial.

“It was all of about 30 feet,” said Mr. Griffith, adding that state officials opposed the move.

Mr. Stewart said he’s glad the memorial will remain where it is.

“We’re very happy, after having put all that work into it, to have it stay put, and I’m sure the Park Service is happy not to have to move it,” he said.

The 21-ton memorial, dedicated in April 2000, features a bronze bas-relief by New York sculptor Ron Tunison. It pays tribute to the 691 members of the 1st and 2nd regiments of Delaware Volunteers, part of the Union infantry at Gettysburg, and an unknown number of Delaware residents who fought for the Confederacy.

The relief depicts troops of the First Delaware helping repel the ill-fated frontal assault by three Confederate divisions that came to be known as Pickett’s Charge.

The failed assault marked a turning point in the war, forcing Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to retreat and ending his hopes for a sustained offensive against the North.

State officials were told when the memorial was erected that it might have to be moved.

As part of a $95 million, 15-year project to improve the battlefield, the Park Service decided to raze a visitors center and cyclorama center and restore that area of Cemetery Ridge to a condition better resembling the terrain of July 1863.

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