For Immediate Release: 06/17/09
Preservation Trust Announces Plans to Purchase 643 Acres at Davis Bridge Battlefield
Federal and state grants lead to 12-to-1 match for donations toward adding land to Tennessee state park
(Pocahontas, Tenn.) – The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the historic landscapes at Civil War battlefields, has embarked on a campaign to protect nearly 650 acres of battlefield land associated with the Battle of Davis Bridge, or Hatchie Bridge, in southwestern Tennessee. The October 5, 1862 battle was the final significant combat around Corinth, Miss., a critical railroad junction, and the war’s final Confederate offensive in Mississippi. The fierce battle produced nearly 1,000 casualties.
“While Davis Bridge may not be the most famous battle of the war, this land is critically important to telling the story of operations in the Western Theater,” said CWPT president James Lighthizer. “We are looking to purchase the entire battlefield east of the Hatchie River, land that retains a high degree of integrity and its war-time appearance.”
The effort represents, in terms of acreage, the second largest land transaction in CWPT history. The full purchase price for the property is more than $1.9 million; however, the generosity of the state of Tennessee and federal matching grants means that CWPT members must contribute only $166,400. The Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust fund has pledged $864,000 toward the effort, which will be added to CWPT’s portion and leveraged against a $948,600 matching grant from the federal American Battlefield Protection Program.
With such a remarkable rate of return on the investment of a donation, Lighthizer stressed that individuals have the power to make a tremendous difference. “In essence,” he said, “a $250 gift buys a full acre of this battlefield.”
Once the purchase is finalized, the property will be placed under a perpetual conservation easement and donated to the State of Tennessee. The property is contiguous with 196 state-owned acres west of the Hatchie River previously preserved through a similar partnership with CWPT. The 839-acre preserve would become one of the largest state Civil War parks in Tennessee.
“It is always our goal to turn over preserved battlefield properties to responsible stewards who will make sure they are properly maintained and opened to the public as outdoor classrooms,” said Lighthizer. “Through long partnership, we know the State of Tennessee to be an outstanding caretaker of these historic landscapes.”
On October 5, 1862, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant sent a force of 8,000 Federals under Maj. Gen. Edward O. C. Ord in pursuit of Confederate Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn’s force, which had abandoned Corinth the previous day. Ord slammed into the vanguard of the retreating Confederate column at Davis Bridge on the Hatchie River two miles south of Pocahontas, Tenn. Ord drove the head of the Confederate column back across the river, seized the bridge, and charged into the thicket east of the river. But Confederates defending the heights overlooking the crossing to the east inflicted heavy casualties on the Federals and checked their further advance. Despite Ord’s presence blocking his route west, Van Dorn slipped between the two converging enemy columns and crossed the Hatchie at Crum’s Mill six miles upstream, retreating to Holly Springs, Mississippi.
With 60,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s remaining Civil War battlefields. Since 1987, the organization has saved more than 25,000 acres of hallowed ground. CWPT’s website is located at www.civilwar.org.