Save 306 Acres of Hallowed Ground at Four 1864-1865 Battlefields
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
Dear Fellow Student of History,
If I told you that I had found a way for you to buy $100 worth of groceries for just $10, would you do it?
What if I told you that you could buy a brand new $20,000 car for just $2,000 – ten cents on the dollar – would you consider that a good deal?
Well, what if I told you that today, if you and I act quickly, we can save 306 acres of hallowed Civil War ground at four 1864-‘65 battlefields – land worth $1,288,600 – for just $128,860?
That’s a 1,000-percent return on your generosity in saving real American history. Put another way, right now, you have a chance to pay a mere 10 cents on the dollar to help save irreplaceable, blood-soaked, must-have hallowed ground.
I even seriously thought about taping a dime to the top of this letter to you just to get your attention, which I know some other organizations do, but then I realized you likely would not approve – you want me to hold onto every dime and spend it to buy more hallowed ground!
Instead, I have a set of Civil War Trust battle maps for you today. Here for your inspection is a listing of the projects we are working on right now, and hope to have all wrapped up by May 31:
|Appomattox, Virginia||6 acres|
|Bentonville, North Carolina||15 acres|
|Mansfield, Louisiana||282 acres|
|Petersburg, Virginia||3 acres|
I expect your next question is: How much will all this cost, Jim, and are there any matching funds to help pay for it?
Well, this is the best part of my job, where I get to tell you about the amazing matching fund opportunities we have been able to put together: Today, these 306 acres have a combined transactional value of $1,288,600, but you and I can save this land for just… $128,860!
This means we have fully $1,159,740 in matching funds lined up and ready to go – through a combination of federal grants, state grants (received and “to-be-applied-for”)…
… and some very generous contributions to our Capital Campaign made by members of our Board of Trustees and a major donor who wished to remain anonymous – which gives us 90% of the total funds needed to save all this land.
If you and I can raise the final 10% -- just $128,860 – we will leverage and unlock this vault of matching money, and save 306 acres of hallowed American battlefield ground at four major battlefields.
And do you want to talk about a matching opportunity? How about this: I can take every $1.00 you send today and turn it into $10.00 instantly! That is powerful!
I know you are very busy. So rather than write out page after page of the history of each piece of ground, I hope you will forgive me for giving you, in the interest of time, a quick explanation of why it is important for us to save each of these parcels.
This ground saw combat that occurred during the final twelve months of the War, and which saw over 17,000 casualties. In alphabetical order:
1. Appomattox Court House, Virginia:
April 9, 1865; Appomattox Campaign; 700 casualties (or considerably more, if you count the nearly 28,000 Confederates who were paroled); these 6 acres on the eastern part of the battlefield are crucial additions to the land there that you and I have already saved at this iconic American historical site.
The preservation of this land today – only about a half-mile away from where Robert E. Lee surrendered to U.S. Grant – will prevent forever any inappropriate future residential or commercial development on this gateway property which leads directly into the Appomattox Court House National Historic Park.
And just as important: saving this land gets us pretty darn close to saying we have saved everything that could be saved at Appomattox Court House. Put another way, you and I are getting awfully close to being able to say that we are “done” at Appomattox!
2. Bentonville, North Carolina:
March 19-21, 1865; Campaign of the Carolinas; 4,700 casualties; the last major battle fought by the Western Armies, and the biggest fought in North Carolina; the land we are saving today adds to our previous tremendous success at Bentonville.
These 15 acres, associated with the first day of fighting at this three-day battle, represent a crucial “bridge” of land, linking previously unconnected parts of this huge battlefield.
With this purchase, by my calculations, you can now walk three to three-and-a-half miles of contiguous hallowed ground… on just the first day of Bentonville! This will push our success at Bentonville well north of 1,650 acres saved -- this is an astounding achievement when you consider that 12 years ago, less than 50 acres were preserved.
3. Mansfield, Louisiana:
April 8, 1864; The Red River Campaign; 4,400 casualties; this battle (also called Sabine Cross Roads), fought 150 years ago this month, was the decisive fight of the Red River Campaign. The bloodletting here convinced Union Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks he could not wrest Louisiana and Texas from Confederate control.
Quite frankly, my friend, if you had told me ten years ago we would even have a chance to save an additional 282 acres – adding to the 135 acres we’ve already saved there – well, I probably would have laughed at you.
This battlefield was threatened for years by an encroaching lignite surface-mining operation, which was literally chewing up the ground.
Now, however, thanks to some forward-thinking preservation-minded business leaders and landowners in that area, who are to be commended, we are on the verge of a coup which will result in the largest preservation of land associated with the Red River Campaign in American history!
4. Petersburg, Virginia / The Breakthrough:
April 2, 1865; Appomattox Campaign; 7,750 casualties; this key piece is part of “The Breakthrough,” the attack that finally penetrated the Confederate defenses around Petersburg.
As you can clearly see on your map, these acres get us one step closer to actually completing this iconic battlefield, too. I’ve enclosed some special recent photos of this land to show you how your dollars have also helped to restore this battlefield to its wartime appearance, giving visitors a whole new appreciation for this battle.
So there you have it, my friend. Do you think it is worth it for us to raise $128,860 to save nearly $1.3 million worth of hallowed ground, turning every $1 you send today into $10.00?
Obviously, I think so. But if you are still undecided, I ask you to look at the other series of maps I have enclosed for you. These are a little more basic than our usual battle maps, but I hope you will instantly grasp what they show.
As I did back in December, I picked four battlefields where I could show you exactly what you have accomplished over the years. For each battlefield, I show you what the ground looked like “then,” before you and I started working to save this hallowed ground…
… and then I show you a “now” image, to show you the remarkable progress you have achieved.
At Cedar Mountain and Mine Run/Payne’s Farm in Virginia, at Perryville in Kentucky, at Brice’s Cross Roads in Mississippi, I hope you agree that together, we have made amazing progress at saving this crucial hallowed ground.
But for you and your generosity, this land could not have been saved, and could easily be blanketed by housing developments, shopping centers, fast-food stores or any of a dozen other inappropriate forms of development, destroying its historical significance forever and denying it to all future generations.
But you did not let that happen, and on behalf of those future generations, I cannot thank you enough for your support of this mission and this cause.
As you can see by the four battlefields we are working on today, and in many more places, we still have much important and urgent work to do.
I hope I can count on your help, and your generosity, today.
With a $10.00-to-$1 match for these historic properties, we can save these 306 acres at a cost to the Trust of just $420 per acre! (That’s easily one of the lowest per-acre costs we’ve ever had.)
This means you can save two acres for $840, four acres for $1,680, a half-acre for $210 or a quarter-acre for $105.
Please let me hear back from you as soon as possible with your urgent gift to help me raise the $128,860 we need to secure nearly $1,300,000 in hallowed ground at four battlefields forever. Thank you very much for all that you are doing to save our nation’s crucial Civil War heritage.
Yours, ‘til our battle is won,
P.S. I encourage you to visit the special section we have created on our website to highlight these four terrific opportunities. Please type in www.civilwar.org/fourbattlefields2014. That address will take you to a wealth of information about each of these important, historic places, including photos, historic maps, articles, and much more. I am really depending on you to help me raise the final 10 cents on the dollar we need to save this hallowed ground. Please let me hear from you today.