The casino proposal might have failed in Adams County, but a national preservation group that lobbied to stop it says the Civil War battlefields here are still endangered.

Development pressure throughout Adams County, including a massive 2,000-home development and a recently torn-down barn at Hunterstown sparked the Trust to include Gettysburg and Hunterstown on its annual endangered list, said Civil War Preservation Trust spokeswoman Mary Goundrey.

"You can build a house anywhere but you can't move hallowed ground," Goundrey said.

The list is used to raise awareness of sites with impending threats and guide the Trust's preservation efforts throughout the year.

Hunterstown, located northeast of Gettysburg in Straban Township, is the site of a vicious cavalry clash that helped decide the outcome of the Gettysburg battle on July 2, 1863. For many years, it has remained overlooked by preservationists and historians.

Then, a few years ago, local preservationists started meeting, and a few historians started studying it, labeling it "north cavalry field" following the pattern of east and south cavalry fields. It started drawing crowds of hundreds to tours, and proponents said it should be added to the sacred sites frequently toured by visitors to Gettysburg.

At the same time, its fate came into question, as developer Rick Klein proposed a 2,000-home seniors-only development on the battlefield and a local farmer tore down the historic Felty barn, the centerpiece of the battle where Gen. George Custer is said to have shown his true colors as a commander.

In September, the National Park Service added Hunterstown to its field study of the Gettysburg battle by the American Battlefield Protection Program, a move which caught the attention of the Civil War Preservation Trust as it was accepting nominations to the list.

Letters started pouring in from locals near Hunterstown and Civil War enthusiasts who visited it often, Goundrey said.

Laurie Harding, one of the leaders of the group Hunterstown Historical Society, previously known as the Friends of Hunterstown, found out about the announcement Monday.

"Everybody here will be thrilled," Harding said. "I still would like to know exactly what it's going to mean for us."

Harding and her husband, Roger, have lobbied the Civil War Preservation Trust for years to bring recognition to Hunterstown. But when they didn't hear anything, they gave up on support from the Trust – a big disappointment since it is the largest nonprofit battlefield-preservation organization in the United States.

But with the National Park Service designation including it in the Gettysburg battle and national attention because of a recent casino controversy, the Civil War Preservation Trust began showing interest.

Now, the Hardings are looking into an ongoing court case in York County in which a group of preservationists is claiming local governments must protect historic resources under the Pennsylvania Constitution. They hope the Trust can provide them with advice and guidance on the matter, Harding said.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Commission and Gettysburg National Military Park are working with Klein to preserve a homestead on the battlefield and establish some interpretive markers along the battlefield. Klein has said the battlefield area will not be developed for at least four or five years, and will be done with history in mind.

Gettysburg National Military Park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon said the park was happy to hear about the Trust's continued concern about the preservation of the area. Lawhon said it's possible there will be interpretive connections directing visitors to the park to see Hunterstown, which lies outside the park's boundary, but is not certain if it would involve any park funding or staffing. But she did mention the battlefield is now eligible for federal grants through the Park Service's broader battlefield protection program.

And though Hunterstown is a new addition, Lawhon said there is still work to do to help preserve the land within the boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park.

Since the Trust's list began in 2001, Gettysburg has been included every year except 2005. The Trust has protected 697 acres at Gettysburg, including helping with a recent conservation easement on the Cunningham Farm.

But there are still 1,134 acres within the park's boundaries that are not protected, Lawhon said. Many of them, including the toll house on Chambersburg Pike, are undeveloped and still contain Civil War-era structures.

But the park has not received any funds for land preservation since 2001, so it cannot buy the properties or the development rights to them.

"We are 100-percent dependent on the CWPT and these other organizations to help us save these lands," Lawhon said.

The battlefields on the Trust's list were chosen based on geographic location, military significance and the immediacy of current threats.

Contact Meg Bernhardt at