For Immediate Release: 12/06/12
Civil War Trust Announces National Campaign to Save Kelly's Ford Battleground
National fundraising campaign seeks to save 964 acres of land at Kelly’s Ford via 113:1 leverage factor
(Culpeper, Va.) –The Civil War Trust, the nation’s largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization, is in the midst of a fundraising campaign to permanently preserve 964 acres at the core of the Kelly’s Ford Battlefield in Culpeper County, Va. Once successfully completed, the transaction will be among the largest, in terms of acreage, in the organization’s 25-year history.
“At the Civil War Trust, we’re committed to protecting and preserving remaining portions of historically significant battlefields as a permanent and meaningful legacy of the Civil War sesquicentennial commemoration,” Trust president Jim Lighthizer said. “These 964 acres in Culpeper County add to the 34,000 acres of hallowed ground across the country now preserved and protected thanks to the efforts of our supporters.”
The targeted land is located at the northern end of the core battlefield, nestled around Carter’s Run and the banks of the Rappahannock River. It was on this tract of land that the Union cavalry advanced against Confederate cavalry on March 17, 1863. The ensuing Confederate counter-attack resulted in heavy casualties on this precise parcel. The site also contains the original road traces marking where the Carolina Road — one of the most travelled routes in Colonial America — crossed the Rappahannock River at historic Norman’s Ford. With the possibility of preserving roughly 50 percent of the battlefield in a single conservation easement transaction, the Trust has set a fundraising goal of $36,350. By securing government matching grants for the project, the Trust is able to transform every $1 donated to the cause into $113 worth of purchasing power — an extraordinary leverage factor for such a transaction. The Trust has already begun investigating opportunities to interpret this unique property for the public once it has been permanently protected.
Clark B. Hall, Culpeper County Civil War historian, recently observed, “This vital preservation achievement facilitated by the Civil War Trust will, for the first time, open up for public interpretation a huge section of this threshold battle that has heretofore been little understood, and seldom visited. The Trust is to be commended for its dedicated focus on saving such a vital battlefield site — one that not only witnessed heavy fighting and casualties, but that also inaugurated a new phase of cavalry warfare during the conflict.”
The Kelly’s Ford effort is part of a larger campaign that also targets 45 acres at Appomattox and 130 acres at Sailor’s Creek. The properties possess a combined transaction value of $4,657,490, but a combination of federal grants, state grants and a landowner’s donation have already raised 98.2 percent of the total funds needed. The Trust anticipates needing to raise only an additional $82,548 in private donations to complete all three transactions.
The Battle of Kelly’s Ford, fought on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1863, was the first large-scale cavalry battle in the war, setting the stage for larger engagements at Brandy Station, and during the Gettysburg Campaign. Although the engagement proved inconclusive, it provided a huge morale boost for the Union cavalry, which was then in the process of transforming into a formidable fighting force. The most famous of the battle’s 200 casualties was Confederate artillerist Maj. John Pelham, of whom Stonewall Jackson wrote, after the Battle of Antietam, “with a Pelham on each flank I believe I could whip the world,” and whom Robert E. Lee dubbed “the Gallant Pelham” after the Battle of Fredericksburg. Pelham had been calling on a young lady nearby in Culpeper when the sound of gunfire drew him towards the battle. Although he was not in direct command of troops on the field, he led the first charge on the Union line and was mortally wounded by a shell fragment in the attempt. Legendary cavalier J.E.B. Stuart wept upon hearing the news, exclaiming that “our loss is irreparable,” and named his daughter, born that autumn, after his fallen comrade.
In addition to its campaign to protect land at Kelly’s Ford, the Trust is currently engaged in active fundraising efforts to save significant battlefield properties at Appomattox, Va., Bentonville, N.C., Cedar Mountain, Va., Chancellorsville, Va., Franklin, Tenn., Fredericksburg, Va., Perryville, Ky., Petersburg, Va., Sailor’s Creek, Va., and Second Manassas, Va. To learn more about current fundraising projects and the Trust’s ambitious sesquicentennial preservation effort, Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy, please visit www.civilwar.org/campaign150.
The Civil War Trust 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. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 34,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Learn more at www.civilwar.org, the home of the sesquicentennial.