The Burkittsville Preservation Association, Inc. is a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization developed for the preservation of the Town of Burkittsville and the surrounding agricultural area, its open spaces, history, culture, and architecture.
Burkittsville is a small rural town steeped in history and left virtually unchanged over the past 100 years. Some of its structures date back to the 1740s, when it was a trading village. It eventually developed into an agricultural support village for the farming community. Local craftsmen, iron and leather workers, cabinet shops, general stores and physicians were available in Burkittsville. The town is surrounded by some of the richest agricultural land in the Frederick County. The fields were covered in grain crops especially rye which was used to produce some of Maryland’s finest rye whiskey.
The Civil War was brought to a quiet valley when Gen. Robert E. Lee crossed into Maryland in an attempt to influence Maryland to succeed and to demonstrate to the Federal Government the South’s ability to move an army and threaten Washington. Lee crossed the Potomac and moved into Frederick City looking for local support. Realizing Lee’s move into Maryland, McClellan, who had been put back in charge of the army, moved from Washington to Frederick to confront Lee. Lee move west into the Middletown Valley and McClellan followed. Lee blocked the South Mountain Passes, Turners, Foxes and Crampton’s Gap. Crampton’s Gap is just above the Town of Burkittsville and the road to the pass runs through Burkittsville.
The first full engagement of the Confederate and Federal armies took place in the Middletown Valley. Burkittsville had to play its role as it lay between the opposing armies. Nearly 2000 Confederates led by Howell Cobb and nearly 13,000 Federal soldiers under the command of Gen. Wm. B. Franklin fought in Burkittsville and the surrounding area. The commandeered buildings, some used as surgeries, saw substantial damage as did many private residences. Gen. Wm. B. Franklin commandeered the Shafer farm (Hamilton Willard Shafer) to view the progress of his army in taking Crampton’s Gap, but due to the delay in taking that Gap and not having provided relief in Harper’s Ferry from an attack by Stonewall Jackson, he was sent to Sharpsburg along the Antietam Creek. This set up the bloodiest single day in the Civil War.
The Burkittsville Preservation Association, Inc. is dedicated to the preservation of the story, the Town of Burkittsville, and the surrounding areas in which these events took place. We are preserving the buildings and the open spaces so a visitor can experience the homes and the view shed, and the rolling hills of Burkittsville as a nineteenth visitor would have found them.
The Burkittsville Preservation Association, Inc. participates in the Maryland Heritage Area (MHAA), Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) and as a Land Trust (MET). We ask for public support to help preserve this special place in Maryland.