Maryland-based Civil War Preservation Trust is conspicuous by its absence from several battlefields, most notably Crampton's Gap. Perhaps this is because the Trust is staffed by former political aides and the political powers in Maryland have decided that there never was such a battle; that it was all of a piece with something called "the South Mountain battles."

There is a Crampton's Gap related event every year: "The Engagement at Burkittsville," a rolling tour with re-enactors staging battles in a small-town setting.

Word from the good people who stage this event is that over half of any profits earned this year must go to Civil War Preservation Trust, a non-sponsor, non-organizer, non-helper of many years standing.

How did that happen? Why?

CWPT are everywhere, raising money they don't need, to not save battlefields and with a maximum amount of self-glorification. We looked at their tax records a few weeks ago; their annual land transactions can generally be lumped together in merely four to six entries, each carefully labeled to prevent anyone from knowing who benefited financially from the transaction and where exactly the land is. We saw also that they are sitting on assets of $16 million and that their income far exceeds their expenses.

They don't need the money. There are battlefield lands here that need to be protected that they have resisted protecting. The preservation organizations staging the event in Burkittsville need the money but are giving a major portion away to CWPT.

It's crazier than the turns of a mountain creek. And as long as they are allowed to operate in absolute secrecy, we'll never know the how or the why.