The Civil War Trust has worked to save and preserve more
than 40,000 acres of battlefield land at 122 battlefields in 20 different states.
Recent preservation achievements
During the sesquicentennial commemoration of the American Civil War (2011–2014), the Civil War Trust has made great progress in its crusade to preserve the nation’s significant hallowed ground. In April 2014, the Trust announced that it had met the initial $40 million fundraising goal of Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy, the organization’s sesquicentennial initiative more than a year early and had chosen to raise the bar to an unprecedented $50 million. Thanks to the generosity of its nearly 200,000 members and supporters, coupled with its strategic partnerships with government officials and nonprofit groups throughout the nation, the Trust protected more than 2,700 acres of battlefield land in 2013.
Key battlefield protection stories
The campaign to preserve the 208-acre Slaughter Pen Farm is the most expensive private battlefield preservation effort in American history. The Trust, working in partnership with Tricord, Inc., SunTrust Bank, and the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust, was able to purchase the property for $12 million in 2006. To support the preservation efforts, the Trust partnered with the Department of the Interior and the Commonwealth of Virginia, which provided matching grants to acquire the property. The Slaughter Pen Farm was the largest intact unprotected part of the Fredericksburg Battlefield, and remains the only place on the battlefield where a visitor can still follow the Union assault on that bloody day from beginning to end. As of the summer of 2011, the Trust had raised more than $7 million toward this project, but $200,000 in mortgage payments remain due annually until the final sum is raised.
Beyond the 208 acres at the Slaughter Pen Farm, the Civil War Trust has also worked to save an additional 14 acres at this key 1862 battlefield. In May 2011, the Trust unveiled a popular BattleApp® guide of Fredericksburg, offering visitors the chance to take four individual GPS-enabled smartphone tours of the battlefield, including the critical urban fighting.
While the Richmond, Virginia, suburbs remain a hotbed for development, the Civil War Trust has made significant strides in protecting land associated with the Seven Days Battles, fought in the summer of 1862.
In 2012, following a $3.2 million national fundraising campaign capped with a generous matching grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Trust acquired the 285-acre McDougle Tract at Gaines’ Mill. With its unique combination of large size, historic pedigree and looming development threat, the land had long been a priority for preservationists. In July 2014, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell presided over a ceremony accepting the property’s transfer into Richmond National Battlefield Park, drastically increasing interpretation opportunities.
Thanks to our efforts, 678 acres of the Glendale Battlefield are now preserved. This is a far cry from just one decade ago, when only a few acres had been set aside. Robert E.L. Krick, chief historian at Richmond National Battlefield Park, has toasted the way in which the Trust has “preserved a major battlefield virtually from scratch.” When combined with efforts at nearby Malvern Hill, where we’ve saved 953 acres, the Civil War Trust has now created a three-mile-long continuous corridor of protected battlefield. Already, much of this land has been integrated into the national park, and plans are in place to transfer additional acreage in the future.
The Civil War Trust has been an active partner in working to save and preserve the Wilderness Battlefield. This battlefield, where Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant first met in combat, has faced enormous and growing developmental pressures at its edges. Since our inception, we have worked to save 209 acres at the Wilderness.
In October 2010, the Civil War Trust announced an ambitious $1.085 million campaign to save 49-acres at the eastern edge of Saunders Field. Associated with the May 6, 1864, flank attack by Confederate forces under John B. Gordon, this land witnessed what historian Gordon Rhea has termed “some of the Wilderness' most brutal combat.” After reaching its fundraising goal in under three months, the Trust acted as a steward for the land until May 2014, when it was transferred to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Building on this success, in 2011, the Trust was also able to secure a four-acre parcel that was the site of Union commander Ulysses S. Grant’s daytime headquarters during the fighting.
The Trust was also deeply involved in a large-scale advocacy effort to protect the Wilderness Battlefield from inappropriate development. In 2009, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved construction of a Walmart Supercenter in a historically sensitive area just outside the national park. Following public outcry and outspoken opposition from the Trust and its partners in the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, on January 26, 2011, Walmart announced that it would find a new location for its store and see that the battlefield property would be preserved. Today, the original site is owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and a Walmart location is thriving elsewhere in Orange County. Meanwhile, a wide range of community partners came together to craft a consensus-based Preferred Development Plan for the battlefield gateway area that achieves both economic development and preservation goals
As the nation marked the 150th anniversary of the bloody Battle of Shiloh, the Civil War Trust announced it had the opportunity to purchase a massive 504-acre property on and around Shiloh Hill, including significant frontage on the Tennessee River. After completing a $1.25 million fundraising campaign, the Trust swiftly deeded the land to Shiloh National Military Park — the largest addition to the park since it was founded in 1894. Cumulatively, the Trust has protected 1,160 acres at Shiloh, much of which has been integrated into the national park.
Civil War Trust has a record of working with preservation-friendly developers to protect battlefield land. In 2004, the Trust worked with Spotsylvania County officials and family-owned Tricord, Inc., to protect 134 acres associated with the First Day at Chancellorsville Battlefield. Two years later, a similar deal was worked out with Spotsylvania County and Toll Brothers, Inc. to protect another 74 acres of this historic battleground. Thanks to these efforts, more than two miles of contiguous battlefield land along the historic Orange Turnpike have been preserved, and the site is home to a popular interpretive walking trail. In addition to its efforts at the First Day site, the Civil War Trust has helped protect a further 241 acres at Chancellorsville. Much of this land is associated with Confederate Lt. Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson’s flank attack, including an 85-acre parcel where Union forces attempted to rally in the so-called Buschbeck Line.
The Civil War Trust has been an active participant in a wide variety of projects at the Gettysburg Battlefield, leading to the protection of 943 acres of hallowed ground. Moreover, the Trust has led the charge against several major, high-profile threats to the battlefield’s integrity.
In July 2014, the Trust announced one of the most ambitious projects in its history: a $5.5 million national fundraising campaign to acquire a 4.14-acre site that witnessed some of the heaviest fighting of July 1, 1863 and includes the Mary Thompson house, where Gen. Robert E. Lee made his headquarters during the battle. Previous high profile projects at Gettysburg in which the Trust was involved include the purchase of the Daniel Lady Farm (145 acres) and the former Gettysburg Country Club (95 acres). The organization has also saved a significant amount of land associated with strategic cavalry actions — 283 acres at East Cavalry Field and 114 acres at Fairfield. A number of other transactions, while small individually, have made a visible difference in the status of preservation at the park, as they allowed for landscape restoration at critical vistas.
Twice, the Trust has been at the forefront of coalition efforts to block gambling casinos from being licensed at the fringes of the national park. Following an aggressive media and advocacy campaign to raise public awareness about the proposal, the first effort was rejected by the state in December 2006. On April 14, 2011 — thanks to the efforts of dedicated local volunteers, partner organizations and even a cohort of impassioned celebrity volunteersthe Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board again determined that Gettysburg was no place for a casino.
With the help of the Civil War Trust, the Morris Island Coalition was formed in early 2004 to oppose development on historic Morris Island outside Charleston, S.C., scene of the charge of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry on Fort Wagner, famously depicted in the movie Glory.
At one time, development plans called for a 20-unit luxury house development. In early 2005, the landowner tried unsuccessfully to sell the property on eBay. But by the end of the year, a preservation-friendly developer acquired the property and agreed to sell it for preservation purposes.
Throughout this process, the Coalition was successful in generating local government support for preservation of Morris Island. Press reaction was favorable as well, and public opinion polls found that an overwhelming number of Charleston residents wanted to see the barrier island remain undeveloped.
In 2008, the Trust engaged in fundraising efforts in support of the State of South Carolina, City of Charleston, and the Trust for Public Land’s $3 million effort to permanently preserve 117 acres of Morris Island.
In 2013, the Trust successfully completed a $3.6 million national fundraising campaign to preserve 56 acres of historic Fleetwood Hill on the Brandy Station Battlefield in Culpeper County, Va., site of the largest cavalry battle ever fought on the North American continent and the opening clash of the momentous Gettysburg Campaign. Trust President James Lighthizer called the project one of five most ambitious in the organization’s history. A significant landscape restoration project is underway to return the landscape to its wartime appearance.
A decade ago, Franklin, Tennessee, was the poster child for what can happen when a community fails to protect its historic resources. Since then, however, Franklin has begun reclaiming historic properties that had once been given up for lost — turning back the asphalt and taking back its legacy. Key to that success was the formation of Franklin’s Charge, a broad-based coalition dedicated to preserving the battlefield and promoting heritage tourism.
The new group’s first major effort was working with the Civil War Trust to purchase the battlefield’s Eastern Flank of the battlefield, which had spent decades as the Country Club of Franklin’s golf course. Their efforts were featured in the April 2005 issue of National Geographic, which helped push the preservation groups’ coffers over the $5 million threshold necessary to complete the project. Soon Franklin’s Charge and the local government began the arduous process of buying up individual slices of the battlefield, often commercial properties, and restoring them to more closely resemble their wartime appearance. Since those early efforts, Franklin has become widely regarded as the greatest battlefield reclamation project in American history, with 176 acres of blood-soaked ground once thought lost forever now protected.