Civil War Trust
For Immediate Release: 09/04/12
Civil War Trust Opens Newest Interpretive Trail at Tennessee's Spring Hill Battlefield
Preservation group purchased 84-acre parcel adjacent to Rippavilla Plantation from General Motors in 2010
(Spring Hill, Tenn.) – Earlier this month, the Civil War Trust, the nation’s largest battlefield preservation organization, unveiled its latest interpretive walking trail, a half-mile loop that connects to the grounds of Rippavilla Plantation, showcasing the battle and the resulting escape of Union forces on November 29, 1864. The new trail augments the Trust’s earlier interpretation efforts at the battlefield — the five-stop Battle of Spring Hill Trail, located on a 110-acre section of preserved battlefield owned by the Trust and Maury County a short distance to the east. The effort is part of the Tennessee Civil War Trails program and received generous funding support from the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.
“Actually walking the land of a Civil War battlefield brings history to life like no other experience,” said Trust president Jim Lighthizer. “The preservation and interpretation of this land at Rippavilla will allow visitors to understand the unique story of this battle more thoroughly than ever before. We are deeply grateful to the partners who helped make the planning, funding and creation of this trail a reality.”
Following a decision by General Motors, LLC (GM) to divest itself of surplus holdings in the region, the uncertain fate of historically significant land at Spring Hill placed the battlefield on a variety of “endangered” lists. In September 2010, the Trust was joined at a press conference by Sen. Lamar Alexander to formally announce the beginning of a public-private partnership to preserve this important 84-acre property. The project received a $1.9 million matching grant from the federal American Battlefield Protection Program, an arm of the National Park Service. Ultimately, the Trust acquired this property through a fee-simple purchase, while an adjacent 100-acre parcel was conveyed directly from GM to Rippavilla, creating a 184-acre historic park surrounding the stately home and museum. The landmark opportunity was hailed by then-governor Phil Bredesen as “a tremendous boon for Middle Tennessee, and the entire nation.”
On November 29, 1864, on ground just north of Rippavilla, Gen. William B. Bate’s Confederate division encountered elements of Gen. John M. Schofield’s Union army, as it attempted to slip northward along the Columbia Pike to join a Union army at Nashville. Fighting erupted across the property as the two sides cautiously maneuvered in the autumn twilight. But Bate’s advance toward the pike was halted; and, although Confederate troops were encamped across the property just a few yards away, the Federals pulled off perhaps the greatest escape of the entire war — some 20,000 of them slipping past in the night and setting the stage for the bloody and decisive Battle of Franklin—a small town that lay between Spring Hill and Nashville.
The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s remaining Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism. Since 1987, the organization has helped save more than 32,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Learn more by visiting www.civilwar.org, the home of the Sesquicentennial.