For Immediate Release: 12/05/16
Civil War Trust Preserves 355 Acres at Chancellorsville and Wilderness Battlefields
Thanks to the generosity of Civil War Trust members, more than 23,000 acres of hallowed ground are now protected in Virginia
(Spotsylvania County, Va.) – The Civil War Trust today declared victory on a 355-acre property associated with the 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville and the 1864 Battle of the Wilderness. With this additional land, the Trust has helped save over 1,100 acres at these two battlefields. The blood of more than 61,000 soldiers in blue and gray was shed during these conflicts, including that of Gen. Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, who was mortally wounded amid the fighting at Chancellorsville.
“These crucial acres will physically connect and help complete the story of two of America’s most important battles,” said Trust President James Lighthizer. “The land will serve as a bridge through history and enhance the visitor experience at both battlefields.”
The land was purchased for $1.75 million. Funding was provided by matching grants from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, foundation grants, a generous contribution from the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust, and major gifts from several Trust donors. The remaining funds, totaling $350,000, were raised from Trust members during a fundraising campaign announced in April 2016.
Gen. Robert E. Lee’s victory at Chancellorsville is one of his greatest military achievements of the entire war. On April 30, 1863, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s crossing of the Rappahannock fords placed his Army of the Potomac on Lee’s vulnerable left flank. Rather than retreat before this sizable Federal force, Lee opted to attack Hooker while he was still within the thick wilderness. On May 2, 1863, Gen. Stonewall Jackson, with 30,000 Confederates, attacked the exposed Union right flank and stunned the 11th Corps, threatening Hooker’s entire army.
On May 5, 1864, almost exactly one year later, the Army of the Potomac once again locked horns with the Army of Northern Virginia in the dense thickets known as the Wilderness. Fighting was fierce but inconclusive as both sides attempted to maneuver in the woods. The two armies fought to a bloody stalemate, inaugurating a new era of violence in the war in the East. Though badly bloodied in the fighting, the Federals continued their march south toward Richmond.
The Civil War Trust is the largest and most effective nonprofit organization devoted to the preservation of America’s hallowed battlegrounds. Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, through its Campaign 1776 initiative the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. To date, the Trust has preserved over 44,000 acres of battlefield land in 23 states.