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Lee Statue Now Part of ANB Park

Location will not change soon

[6/24/2005]


By David Dishneau
The Associated Press
Originally published June 23, 2005, 3:08 PM EDT

HAGERSTOWN -- A disputed monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee is now part of the Antietam National Battlefield, a park official said today.

The 24-foot bronze statue of Lee astride his horse Traveller was part of a nearly $189,000 land purchase that added 45 acres to the federally protected grounds last week, Superintendent John Howard said.

Howard said he doesn't plan to move the statue, despite a claim that its location is historically inaccurate.

"We've got many more serious issues to address rather than moving a monument," Howard said. "I've got over $2.5 million worth of work to do on the buildings, and if I've got money to spend, I'm going to use it on that."

Statue opponent Thomas G. Clemens, president of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation, said that now that the land is protected, he will renew his campaign to have the monument removed from its hilltop perch along Maryland 34 just east of Sharpsburg. Clemens said the hill was held by Union forces during the Sept. 17, 1862, battle that marked the end of Lee's first invasion of the North.

"It puts Robert E. Lee in the middle of the Union line," Clemens said.

The statue was erected in 2003 by William F. Chaney, a wealthy history buff from Anne Arundel County who outbid the park service for the parcel, known as the Newcomer farm, in 1999. A self-proclaimed "unreconstructed rebel" and distant relative of Lee, Chaney also had proposed erecting statues of Confederate generals Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart, but he dropped those plans amid local objections.

Chaney, 59, said Lee passed by the hill where the statue stands. He said the Southern commander deserves a place on the battlefield, which now has six Confederate monuments and 99 Union ones.

"It was time to even the odds a little bit," Chaney said. "I consider it the very best statue up there."

Chaney retained ownership of two acres and the Newcomer house, which he restored and briefly ran as a museum. It now serves as a headquarters for battle reenactments, he said.

Chaney, of Galesville, also owns Terra Rubra, the Carroll County boyhood home of Francis Scott Key, author of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, was the bloodiest one-day clash of the Civil War, with more than 23,000 men reported killed, wounded or missing. Lee's retreat from Antietam gave President Abraham Lincoln the political strength to issue the Emancipation Proclamation five days later.

From the Baltimore Sun online (article: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/bal-lee0623,1,3501923.story?coll=bal-local-headlines&ctrack=2&cset=true)