For Immediate Release: 04/24/07
National Battlefield Preservation Group Visits Franklin During Annual Conference
Busload of Civil War buffs and preservationists tours sites associated with the Siege of Suffolk
(Portsmouth, Va.) - Hundreds of Civil War buffs and preservationists from around the country converged in Portsmouth last weekend as part of the Civil War Preservation Trust's (CWPT) annual conference. One of the highlights of the event, which gave CWPT members an opportunity to celebrate the organization's successes while learning about the Peninsula's rich Civil War heritage, was a tour of sites associated with the Siege of Suffolk.
Led by Suffolk-native Brian Steel Wills, the tour was one of eight options available to attendees during the four day conference. Participants visited a variety of sites, including Fort Huger, Riddick's Folly, Providence Methodist Church, Hill's Point, the Nansemond River and downtown Franklin, Va.
Wills is the author of several books on the Civil War, notably The War Hits Home: The Civil War in Southeastern Virginia. He is the Kenneth Asbury Professor of History at the University of Virginia's College at Wise, and the great-great-grandson of Charles Hasker, an officer in the Confederate Navy.
During the tour stop in Franklin, the group was joined by local historian Collin Pulley and by community activist and history lover Sol W. Rawls. The group discussed how Franklin's location on the Blackwater River and status as a regional transportation hub made it an important Confederate supply center throughout the war. Despite several attempts by the Union army and navy to capture the town, Franklin remained in Confederate hands throughout the conflict.
The theme of the 2007 CWPT conference was "To the Gates or Richmond," which refers to Union efforts to take the Confederate capital from the southeast during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862. It was during the fighting known as the Seven Days battles that Confederate General Robert E. Lee was promoted to command of the Army of Northern Virginia. Additional aspects of the program included tours following the Peninsula Campaign, the Battle of the Ironclads and the Seven Days battles, panel discussions and lectures by prominent historians. Additionally, the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission met on the first day of the conference, while Saturday evening featured a banquet and awards ceremony.
With 70,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the U.S. Its mission is to preserve our country's remaining Civil War battlefields. Since 1987, CWPT has saved more than 24,000 acres of hallowed ground nationwide. CWPT's website is located at www.civilwar.org.