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Public to get a look at Slaughter Pen Farm; dignitaries to talk about Civil War site's fundraising efforts
An image supplied by Sotheby's shows 'The Town of Harrisonburg, Virginia 1867,' which was painted by Emma Lyon, a longtime Harrisonburg resident. The painting was auctioned at Sotheby's in New York for 160,000 on Saturday.
THE DAILY NEWS-RECORD/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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By RUSTY DENNEN
Residents will get a chance to walk a Civil War battlefield where the fighting was so intense that it became known as the "slaughter pen."
The Civil War Preservation Trust, which purchased the 208-acre Slaughter Pen Farm in June for a record $12 million, is holding a news conference there Monday at 10:45 a.m., followed by the first public tour of the property.
The Washington-based trust will talk about how its fundraising efforts are going. The farm sits along Tidewater Trail, east of Shannon Airport in Spotsylvania County, adjacent to part of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
Speakers will include U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Bill Howell, R-Stafford, speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, and state Sen. Edd Houck, D-Spotsylvania, all longtime proponents of battlefield preservation.
Howell and Houck were instrumental in the creation earlier this year of the Virginia Civil War Sites Preservation Fund. Some money from that fund will be used for the purchase of the farm.
After the speeches, Frank O'Reilly, a historian with the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, will conduct a walking tour of the land, a crucial component of the December 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg.
CWPT has been in full-scale fundraising mode since June when it acquired Slaughter Pen, also known locally as the Pierson Farm. Tricord Inc., Spotsylvania-based home builder, bought the acreage when it came on the market and sold it to the trust at cost.
Mary Goundrey, spokeswoman for the CWPT, said yesterday that the organization is getting a lot of financial help.
"This is above and beyond anything that's happened before" in the annals of raising money for the purchase of privately held battlefield land, she said.
"Everything we do is a partnership because these properties are becoming so expensive."
Many of the trust's 70,000 members sent in donations.
"When we told our members just how important this property was, they responded," Goundrey said. "It is amazing the outpouring of support." They've pledged just under $1 million.
Money has also come from other preservation groups such as the Fredericksburg-based Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, which pledged $1 million, and the Rappahannock Valley Civil War Roundtable, $3,000.