Hearings and Business Meetings

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 02:30 PM

Honorable Robert Letourneau


Testimony of Senator Bob Letourneau

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Subcommittee on National Parks Hearing
on S. 748 and H.R. 1084

November 15, 2005

Chairman Thomas and Members of the Committee,

My name is Bob Letourneau; I am a State Senator and represent New Hampshire’s 19th District.

I testify before you today as the Chairman of the New Hampshire Civil War Memorials Commission.  The Commission’s membership consists of Members of the New Hampshire Legislature, the Civil War Round Table, the Sons of the Union Veterans, the New Hampshire Veterans Association, our state curator and two members of the general public.  Our mission is three fold.

First, to establish a monument at Antietam in honor of our sons and daughters who served there at the battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862.  Second is to establish a fund for the perpetual care of NH Civil War monuments at Gettysburg, Antietam and other Civil War sites as the Commission deems necessary.  Our third goal is to develop Civil War educational programs, resources and related educational opportunities for the benefit of New Hampshire school children.

After establishing the Commission in 2000, following a year of study concerning the issue, and with the understanding that it would take a significant amount time to develop and build the monument, we spent the following year establishing several subcommittees to develop the plan to address the various issues with this legislation.  The next two years were spent on the development of an RFP for artists to submit their proposals to the Commission for the monument.  It was during this period of time that the Commission maintained communication with the Park Superintendent with regards to what would be acceptable and what location the proposed monument would occupy.  There were several visits made to the Park by members of the Commission to verify location and support.

It was at this time that we learned that federal authorization in the form of legislation was necessary for a monument to be placed in Antietam National Battlefield Park and to complete the project.  Our Congressional Delegation filed bills during the 108th Congress, but because of the heavy workload these bills did not receive a hearing.

This is why I am here today.  I would like to commend Senators Gregg and Sununu, and Representatives Bradley and Bass for bringing forward this very important legislation.

As the dawn of September 17, 1862, arrived the mighty armies of Lee and McCellan were about to clash just outside the small town of Sharpsburg, Maryland in what has become known as the battle of Antietam.  This battle greatly underestimated by the generals in charge became the bloodiest day in American military history. 120,000 Americans fought this one-day encounter with a loss of over 23,000 dead, wounded or missing. One out of every four men in action was a casualty. During the height of this battle one American died every second the clocked ticked. The battle raged for 12 to 14 hour’s only darkness ending the struggle.

New Hampshire’s men fought courageously as members of the 5th, 6th, and the 9th volunteer regiments.  The members of the 6th and 9th were particularly heroic when they attempted to cross what is known as Burnside’s Bridge. The Fifth which had the greatest losses were led by Colonel Cross of Lancaster in the area know as the Sunken Road. Unfortunately, these brave men who fought and died in the Battle of Antietam do not have a marker on the field to signify their sacrifice.  

S. 748 and H. R. 1084 would authorize the establishment of a Memorial at Antietam National Battlefield for the New Hampshire soldiers who fought in this historic battle. Importantly, this bill does not require any federal, state or local municipality to finance the cost of construction or maintenance of the monument. Any monument built and maintained at the Antietam National Battlefield Park would be entirely paid for by private sources.

In closing I would like to say that all soldiers who fought in the Battle of Antietam deserve recognition of their sacrifice and the volunteer soldiers of New Hampshire have gone too long without a lasting monument. These men exemplified the steadfast bravery that is the hallmark of American soldiers across generations. On behalf of the citizens of New Hampshire I ask you to allow New Hampshire to furnish a proper monument to these commendable Americans.

As the 150th anniversary of the Civil War is approaching, I ask that this Committee to correct an unfortunate oversight and to pass S.748 and H. R. 1084..

I ask that my full written testimony be submitted for the record. 

Thank you.