GETTYSBURG, Pa. -- A soft breeze rustles dying leaves on this serene slope. That's the sound of Culp's Hill today.
Most visitors to the Gettysburg battleground ignore this quiet, out-of-the-way expanse of rocks and trees. Few know that here, 131 years ago, Marylander clashed with Marylander in fighting as vicious and significant as anywhere on the battlefield.
But this weekend the spotlight at Gettysburg will shine on Maryland. In a ceremony Sunday featuring Civil War re-enactors as well as fighter jets, Marylanders will return to Gettysburg to dedicate a memorial to the state's soldiers, Union and Confederate, who fought here in the Civil War's pivotal battle.
"This is about old-fashioned patriotism and the pride of being from Maryland," says Daniel Carroll Toomey, a seventh-generation Marylander and author of the book, "Marylanders At Gettysburg." "Maryland fought this miniature Civil War on Culp's Hill.
"You had soldiers from the same state, the same towns, the same families fighting it out literally within yards of each other. It came down to brother against brother in a very personal way."
Maryland was the only state with regimental units on both sides at Gettysburg. More than 3,000 saw action -- about 2,000 for the Union, about 1,000 for the Confederacy. Most found themselves involved in the brutal battle for a nondescript hump of ground called Culp's Hill.
"Many of the soldiers who fought there said later that it was the bloodiest fighting of the whole war," says Kathy Georg Harrison, senior historian at Gettysburg. "The trouble is, the hill is so overgrown today it's almost impossible to interpret what happened there.
"The story of Culp's Hill, I have to say, is lost in the woods."
One man who searched for it is Jim Holechek, a 64-year-old Towson resident who owned a Baltimore advertising company. He and his wife, Pat, toured Gettysburg in 1989 with an official tour guide.
"At the end of the tour I asked him, 'Now can you show us the Maryland memorial?' " Mr. Holechek recalls. "Right away he said, 'There is none.'
"And I thought, 'There isn't one? Maybe I ought to build one.' "
That wasn't idle thinking. Mr. Holechek discovered that there were seven small monuments at Gettysburg honoring specific Maryland units -- one Confederate, six Union -- but none honoring Maryland soldiers from both sides.
Well-connected through his business and his community work, Mr. Holechek embarked on a passionate mission to erect one.
"I'm a Marylander, and I don't like it when I go somewhere and Maryland isn't represented when it should be," Mr. Holechek says. "I felt the battlefield at Gettysburg wasn't complete without a Maryland memorial."
He recruited friends, lawyers, corporate executives, sculptors, engineers, Civil War buffs and politicians, including Gov. William Donald Schaefer and O. James Lighthizer, state transportation secretary. Drawing on years of experience raising money for hospitals and community activities, Mr. Holechek led a campaign that amassed $147,000 in donations from 2,000 individuals, 10 foundations and 50 corporations. The state legislature kicked in $75,000.
"I wasn't getting paid, and I didn't want to pay anybody," Mr. Holechek says. "I was really a beggar."
Says the governor: "A lot of people deserve credit for this outstanding and historic effort, but the person who stands out in my mind is Jim Holechek. He refused to quit. . . . He'll be like a proud father when the statue is unveiled on the 13th."
Nearly all the money was spent on the monument -- the plaza, pedestal and sculpture. Lawrence M. Ludtke, a prominent figurative sculptor from Texas, won a nationwide competition to create it.
Mr. Ludtke's sculpture of two wounded soldiers -- one Union, one Confederate -- expresses conciliation.
"It's an exquisite statue," says Elliott Cummings, commander of the Maryland Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans. "It shows equally the valor of both soldiers. That's one thing you can't disagree about: The valor of the troops on both sides."
Maryland's loyalties were divided during the Civil War.
"Maryland was on the fault line," says Mr. Toomey. "It had a very southern lifestyle, but a very northern economy."
The state's industrial center, Baltimore, had the largest free black population in the nation. At the same time, plantation owners throughout the state, especially in southern Maryland, owned slaves.
But it was Baltimore where pro-South sentiment first erupted. A mob attacked Massachusetts soldiers passing through the city April 19, 1861, on their way to Washington. The soldiers retaliated. Four soldiers and 12 citizens were killed.
"That was the first land battle of the Civil War," Mr. Toomey says, "on Pratt Street, right about in front of where the World Trade Center is today."
Federal troops later occupied Maryland, arresting legislators and prominent citizens with secessionist leanings.