For Immediate Release: 08/11/09
Preservation Trust, State of Tennessee Partner to Protect 643 Acres of Davis Bridge Battlefield
State-controlled park now covers more than 850 acres, protecting 98 percent of the original 1862 battle site
(Pocahontas, Tenn.) – The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the historic landscapes at Civil War battlefields, and the State of Tennessee are pleased to announce the purchase and protection of nearly 650 acres of pristine battlefield land at Davis Bridge, Tenn. The fierce battle on October 5, 1862, was the final significant combat around Corinth, Miss., a critical railroad junction, and produced nearly 1,000 casualties.
CWPT acquired the property on July 31, and today ceremonially donated the property to the State of Tennessee, transferring management to the Tennessee Wars Commission.
“This project is a perfect illustration of why we are in business,” said CWPT president James Lighthizer. “Neither the State of Tennessee, nor a single regional nonprofit entity would have been able to protect this battlefield. But by working together, we have ensured that the Davis Bridge Battlefield will endure for generations to come.”
Complications in the negotiation and appraisal process prevented the State of Tennessee from completing the transaction independently. CWPT stepped in, signing a contract worth more than $1.9 million with the Miller Lumber Company, the land’s previous owner. The Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust contributed $864,000 toward the effort, which was leveraged against a $971,600 matching grant from the federal American Battlefield Protection Program, leaving CWPT with $138,900 in outright contribution.
“We are deeply indebted to our preservation partners,” said Fred Prouty, program director for the Tennessee Wars Commission. “Together we have saved hundreds of acres of hallowed ground, a pattern of success we know will continue for many years to come.”
Prouty also noted that the Tennessee Wars Commission was recently awarded a nearly $1 million federal transportation enhancement grant to create a welcome and interpretive center in the state-owned historic Pocahontas Schoolhouse nearby. The facility will include 3.5 miles of interpretive walking trails and a pedestrian footbridge across the Hatchie River, allowing visitor access to the newly acquired land.
State Representative Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads), a longtime advocate of historic preservation and past president of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association (TCWPA) praised the project’s spirit of cooperation, declaring, “It goes without saying that the funding provided by the CWPT is invaluable, but the expertise in putting together the entire acquisition plan for Civil War battlefields is another area where the CWPT makes the deals happen.”
CWPT continues fundraising to pay off its portion of the purchase price. One major donor to the effort thus far has been TCWPA, which raised the money several years ago in preparation for the land’s eventual purchase.
“We are pleased to join CWPT in helping preserve the Davis Bridge site,” said TCWPA president James Danley. “We know that this effort, like the other occasions when we have partnered to protect hallowed ground across the state, will ensure present and future generations will be able to visit and appreciate a significant story in Tennessee’s Civil War history.”
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, Miss.
With 60,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. CWPT’s website is www.civilwar.org.
(To learn more about the Battle of Davis Bridge, visit www.civilwar.org/battlefields/davis-brige.html)