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Virginia awards grants to protect 15 Civil War battlefields, including Chancellorsville and Brandy Station
New state grants will help buy part of Chancellorsville battlefield, seen to the right of State Route 3.
FILE/SUZANNE CARR ROSSI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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By CLINT SCHEMMER
Virginia stepped forward yesterday to help save portions of 15 Civil War battlefields from encroaching development.
The commonwealth will provide up to $5.2 million to front-line private groups defending Civil War battlefields--including Chancellorsville and Brandy Station. Preservationists must come up with $10.4 million to get the 21 matching grants awarded by the state Department of Historic Resources.
The resulting total, $15.57 million, would be one of the largest sums earmarked for Virginia battlefield preservation in decades.
"I am pleased that we are able to join with these private organizations to save important open spaces and cultural landscapes while we still have the opportunity," Gov. Tim Kaine said of the initiative yesterday.
"Battlefield protection preserves Virginia's historic as well as its natural landscapes. It is an integral part of my administration's goal to protect 400,000 acres of open spaces by 2010."
Tapping the state's Civil War Historic Site Preservation Fund, established by the General Assembly in 2006, the department's grants will save 1,571 acres.
The money comes not a moment too soon, as Virginia and conservationists race to preserve some of the nation's most threatened hallowed ground from urban and suburban growth.
The grants will save key parcels by enabling private organizations to buy parcels or obtain easement rights on land that will stay in private ownership. Those deals will enlarge or join together previously protected battlefield tracts.
The private groups include the Civil War Preservation Trust, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation and the Richmond Battlefield Association.
"We are very, very pleased that Gov. Kaine and the state legislature were able to fund this program," Jim Campi, spokesman for the Civil War Preservation Trust, said yesterday. "This is by far the largest single appropriation by any state for battlefield land in recent memory."
Trust President James Lighthizer praised the "visionary leadership" of Kaine, House Speaker Bill Howell, R-Stafford, and state Sen. Edd Houck, D-Spotsylvania, who championed the program.
The 15 affected battlefields lie in the counties of Amelia, Appomattox, Culpeper, Frederick, Hanover, Henrico, Louisa, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Spotsylvania.
VIRGINIA BATTLEFIELD GRANT SUMMARIES
Here's the complete list of 15 Civil War battlefields receiving preservation grants announced Monday by the Virginia Department Historic Resources:
Cross Keys Battlefield, Rockingham County: This June 8, 1862 battle was central to the culmination of Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign that allowed Confederate forces to retain control of the upper and middle Shenandoah Valley. The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation's purchase of a conservation easement on four parcels totaling 110 acres at Cross Keys will protect land associated with the battle's core area and 'field of fire.'
Port Republic Battlefield, Rockingham County: Fighting at Port Republic on June 9, 1862 involved Confederate attacks against Union troops holding strong positions just north of the Kaylor Farm. The collapse of the Union line gave the Confederate army undisputed control of the upper and middle Shenandoah Valley. The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation's purchase of a conservation easement on approximately 178 acres will protect and preserve acreage associated with this battle.
Glendale Battlefield, Henrico County: In June 1862, General Robert E. Lee's army attacked the Union line and surged eastward hoping to isolate half the opposing forces. However late in the day Federal reinforcements counterattacked and held the line. Lee's best opportunity to trap and destroy the Union army was lost. The Civil War Preservation Trust is purchasing four parcels totaling 87.5 acres within the core area of the battlefield. One parcel includes a study area of the First Bottom battlefield, while another one connects to land at Richmond National Battlefield Park on Malvern Hill, resulting in nearly three miles of contiguous protected areas. All four parcels are adjacent to nearly 362 acres of the battlefield already saved by the CWPT.
Malvern Hill, Henrico County: Also known as the Battle of Poindexter's Farm, this July 1, 1862 battle was the sixth and last of the Seven Days Battles of the Union's Peninsula Campaign. Gen. Robert E. Lee launched a series of disjointed assaults on the nearly impregnable Union position on Malvern Hill. The Confederates suffered more than 5,300 casualties without gaining ground. Despite his victory, Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan withdrew to entrench at Harrison's Landing on the James River, ending the Peninsula Campaign. The Civil War Preservation Trust's purchase of 178 acres in the core and study area of the Malvern Hill and Glendale Battlefields will secure the site of a historic house and road, and the area where Confederate Gen. John B. Magruder supervised his troops while under fire. Due to significant development in the immediate vicinity of Malvern Hill, the area to be acquired is at high risk for single family, residential development.
Chancellorsville, Spotsylvania County: A major Civil War battle, Chancellorsville, fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863, pitted Union Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's forces against Gen. Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, which was half the size of Hooker's army. It is known as Lee's "perfect battle" because of his risky but successful division of his army in the presence of a much larger enemy force. Lee's audacity and Hooker's timid combat resulted in a vital Confederate victory, tempered by the mortal wounding of Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson to friendly fire. The Civil War Preservation Trust's purchase of two tracts will protect core battlefield land representing a significant portion of the field upon which the battle's first engagement was fought. Along with another tract previously preserved by the CWPT, these two parcels together encompass most of the battle ground that is integral to interpreting the opening engagement. The tracts are adjacent to 7,242-plus acres previously preserved by the National Park Service and the CWPT in the core battlefield at Chancellorsville. Due to significant growth in Spotsylvania, the grant-acquired tracts--totaling 159 acres--face high risk for single-family, residential development, without intervention.
Brandy Station, Culpeper County: Also called the Battle of Fleetwood Hill, this was the largest predominantly cavalry engagement of the Civil War, as well as the largest ever to take place on American soil. It was fought at the beginning of the Gettysburg Campaign by the Union cavalry under Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton against Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's Confederate cavalry. The battle was highlighted by massive, decisive cavalry charges, concluding finally when Federal attackers were driven off Fleetwood Hill on June 9, 1863. The Civil War Preservation Trust's acquisition of two tracts, totaling 49.5 acres, will preserve the core area of Fleetwood Hill and the battlefield. Located on U.S. 29, the two tracts stand in close proximity to nearly a thousand acres of battlefield land already preserved by the Brandy Station Battlefield Foundation and CWPT. Due to significant development in the Culpeper area, the tracts would otherwise face high risk for single-family, residential development, without intervention.
Cold Harbor Battlefield, Hanover County: The final battle of Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Overland Campaign, Cold Harbor was one of U.S. history's bloodiest, most lopsided battles. Thousands of Union soldiers were slaughtered in a hopeless frontal assault against the fortified troops of Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose victory was one of his last. After this battle, Grant gave up the idea of a direct attack on Richmond. The Richmond Battlefield Association's purchase of 10-plus acres will protect a core area of the battlefield. The tract is situated between two portions of the battlefield already protected by the National Park Service and the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. Cold Harbor is one of the state's most threatened battlefields; acquisition of this tract will prevent development of the property into a residential subdivision.
Trevilian Station Battlefield, Louisa County: This engagement was a major clash between Union and Confederate cavalry divisions on June 11 and 12, 1864. From their defensive position across the railroad and the road to Gordonsville, Confederate dismounted cavalry pushed back several determined dismounted Union assaults. Federal forces withdrew after destroying about six miles of the Virginia Central Railroad. The Confederate victory at Trevilian Station prevented Union troops from reaching Charlottesville to reinforce the Union army in the Shenandoah Valley. The Civil War Preservation Trust's purchase two tracts, comprising nearly 255 acres, and the Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation's purchase of four parcels of 428 acres will preserve core areas of the battlefield. The three tracts, adjacent to 1,455 acres already preserved by the CWPT, are at high risk for single-family, residential development.
First Deep Bottom Battlefield, Henrico County: This July 27–29, 1864 battle was part of the Siege of Petersburg. During the night of July 26 and 27, the Union Army II Corps and two divisions of Gen. Phil Sheridan's cavalry under the command of Maj. Gen. Winfield Hancock crossed to the north side of James River to threaten Richmond, diverting Confederate forces from the impending attack at Petersburg on July 30. Union forces abandoned efforts to turn the Confederate position at New Market Heights and Fussell's Mill after Confederates strongly reinforced their lines and counterattacked. During the night of July 29, the Federals re-crossed the river, leaving a garrison to hold the bridgehead at Deep Bottom. CWPT's purchase will preserve 125 acres entirely within the core area of the battle, specifically a historic farm that was the scene of the heaviest fighting, where total casualties surpassed 800. Because of extensive recent development in the area, this is the only sizeable portion of the July 28 battlefield that can feasibly be saved.
Second Deep Bottom Battlefield, Fussell's Mill, Henrico County: Fighting at Fussell's Mill on August 14 and 16, 1864 diverted Confederate attention from Union attacks on the Petersburg Railroad. The Richmond Battlefield Association's purchase of the Fussell's Mill tract will protect and preserve 30-plus acres of a portion of the battlefield's core area that retains historic integrity and includes the ruins of the antebellum mill as well as Confederate entrenchments associated with the fighting. The tract is adjacent to six acres of the battlefield already owned by the Civil War Preservation Trust. Acquisition of the mill tract will preserve the eastern side of the battlefield; the western portion is already under residential and commercial development.
Fishers Hill Battlefield, Shenandoah County: Confederate fortifications across the width of the valley at Fishers Hill prevented the Union army's use of the Valley Turnpike (U.S. 11 today). A Union attack on September 21, 1864 at Fisher's Hill and a surprise Union flanking maneuver on September 22 resulted in a Confederate retreat, opening the Shenandoah Valley to Union Gen. Phil Sheridan's destruction of mills, barns, crops and livestock later that year. The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation's purchase of a conservation easement on 78 acres at Fishers Hill will protect and preserve the land associated with the battle. Acquisition of this easement will be visible from an interpretive trail on SVBF's property at Ramseur's Hill.
Cedar Creek, Frederick County: Also called The Battle of Belle Grove, this battle of October 19, 1864 was one of the final, and most decisive, battles in the Shenandoah Valley Campaigns of 1864. The final Confederate invasion of the North, led by Lt. Gen. Jubal A Early was effectively ended and the Confederacy was never again able to threaten Washington, D.C., through the Shenandoah Valley, nor protect the economic base in the Valley. The Union victory at Cedar Creek played a significant role in Lincoln's reelection. The Civil War Preservation Trust's purchase of 49 acres will preserve land entirely within the core area of the battlefield. The acreage is adjacent to 308 acres already preserved by the National Park Service and the CWPT. Due to significant development in the immediate Cedar Creek area, including the rezoning for a mining company to extend their quarry within the battlefield ground, this tract is at high risk for single-family, residential and extractive development.
Sailor's Creek, Amelia County: Also known as the Battle of Sayler's Creek (as well as Hillsman Farm or Lockett Farm), this battle was fought April 6, 1865, southwest of Petersburg, as part of the Appomattox Campaign in the final days of the Civil War. After Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant broke the Confederate defenses at the Siege of Petersburg, Gen. Robert E. Lee's forces began a retreat in hopes of linking up with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's army in North Carolina. At Sayler's Creek, nearly one fourth of the retreating Confederate army was cut off by Union cavalry. The Confederates attacked but were driven back and most were forced to surrender. Sayler's Creek was considered the death knell of the Confederate Army. The Civil War Preservation Trust will purchase a tract partially in the core area and in the larger study area of the battlefield. It stands in proximity to 220 acres already preserved by the National Park Service and the CWPT in the core battlefield. Due to significant development in the immediate Amelia County area, the tract is deemed to be at high risk for single-family residential development.
Appomattox Station, Appomattox County: On April 8, 1865, Union troops captured three trains loaded with provisions for Gen. Robert E. Lee's army and scattered the Confederate defenders, cutting off any hopes of re-provisioning the exhausted Confederates camped at nearby Appomattox Courthouse. The battlefield of this small but critical engagement has been largely obliterated by residential and commercial development. However, recent archaeological studies show that there are areas of remaining integrity. In particular, a 46-acre tract that Civil War Preservation Trust will purchase provides a last chance to preserve and protect land within the study area before the current owner expands his trucking company doing damage to the last, relatively untouched portions of the Appomattox Station Battlefield.
Appomattox Courthouse Battlefield, Appomattox County: In this final engagement of the war, on April 8, 1865 Gen. Robert E. Lee bivouacked near the village of Appomattox Courthouse, while nearby Union troops converged. The last Confederate offensive on April 9 initially gained ground, but the arrival of Union infantry stopped the advance and Lee found himself surrounded on three sides. Lee's formal surrender took place the following day. The Civil War Preservation Trust's purchase of two tracts totaling nearly 12 acres will preserve land within the study area of the battlefield. The two tracts are adjacent to each other and contiguous with nearly 1,774-plus acres already preserved by the National Park Service and the CWPT in the core battlefield at Appomattox. Due to significant development in the immediate Appomattox area, these tracts are at high risk for single-family, residential development.
Source: Virginia Department of Historic Resources