Help Save 46 Acres at Appomattox Station
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, CWPT President
Appomattox Station, Virginia, April 8, 1865 . . . in the waning hours of America’s epic Civil War,
two armies that had grappled for years pitched into each other in the battle that would seal the fate
of the Army of Northern Virginia.
Today, every $1 you donate turns into $115 to help save forever 46 acres of hallowed ground that will save essentially all the land that can be saved at this battlefield!
Dear Fellow Preservationist,
As someone who cares as much as you do about saving America’s Civil War history, I know that you will have a special appreciation for the tremendous opportunity you and I have before us today.
You know what happened at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
You know that on that day the tremendous tenacity of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia finally succumbed to the dogged determination of Ulysses S. Grant’s Armies of the Potomac and the James.
You can see in your mind’s eye, I am sure, the scene of the roughly dressed Grant and the immaculately uniformed Lee, sitting down together and talking quietly in Wilmer McLean’s parlor, beginning the process of “binding the nation’s wounds” after four years of unprecedented warfare.
But on the day before there was a surrender at Appomattox Court House, there was a Battle of Appomattox Station.
And I am sure that you would agree with me that this battlefield – which was once believed to be lost, paved over by the Town of Appomattox, until it was “re-discovered” by historian Chris Calkins – is worth preserving.
Especially since we can save 46 acres of this important hallowed ground – which has a value of $1.725 million – for just $15,000!
That is a multiplication of your generosity by a factor of $115-to-$1, one of the largest matching grant opportunities CWPT has ever created.
I can almost hear your question: “Jim, in what universe can you pay $15,000 for a piece of land that is worth $1,725,000?”
Well, CWPT has put together yet another urgent transaction that pulls together two federal matching grant sources and adds in a large grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia, use-it-or-lose-it money which expires on December 31, 2009.
(Just as a progress note, CWPT and other local battlefield preservation organizations have already drawn down nearly $3 million of the original $5.2 million awarded in this historic program, saving over 900 acres. As you have seen from the flood of mail in your mailbox from me, we are racing to close several deals before the end of the year to use up all of the rest.
It is important to give this our best effort, because with the Virginia budget being so tight, it will be nearly impossible for CWPT to ask for future grants if we don’t utilize all of this one.)
For this transaction at Appomattox Station, we are also blessed, in that a long-time CWPT member has agreed to step forward and make a significant personal leadership gift to help save this land. Here are the numbers, for your review:
|$1,725,000||Cost for the 46 acres|
|- $ 575,000||Matching grant from Virginia|
|- $1,085,000||Federal matching grants|
|$ 65,000||CWPT portion to secure all matching funds!|
While spending $65,000 to get $1.725 million to save this battlefield would already be a “no-brainer,” it gets even better, because our CWPT benefactor will – through his own generous gift which will be matched dollar for dollar by his employer – put up $50,000 of the remaining $65,000!
That leaves just $15,000 to go! You’ve got to agree that an astounding $115-to-$1 match is about as good as it gets!
1. We will be saving a historically significant battlefield. The events on this ground on April 8, 1865, led directly to Robert E. Lee’s decision to surrender his army the next day;
2. We are saving the key 46 acres at the heart of this battlefield, and with that, saving almost all of the ground that can still be saved there – we’re saving an entire battlefield in one fell swoop;
3. We will be helping the Town of Appomattox expand their heritage tourism opportunities, as visitors will now be able to visit not only the surrender sites, but also this battlefield, which has never before been open to the public!
At $37,500 per acre, this is expensive land. But that is because there is currently a local trucking company which has its headquarters on part of the land. So not only are we buying the battlefield, but we also have to pay for a building on the property, which will eventually be torn down.
As I mentioned before, this battlefield was once believed to be completely lost, paved over as the Town of Appomattox expanded in the early 20th century.
But historian Chris Calkins began doing some research for a book, and after multiple visits to the property, often armed with a metal detector, he was able to match up the property to the reports and memoirs of the men who fought in this sharp battle.
I’ll paraphrase some of Chris’s work here, so that you get a sense of the historic significance of this place, and a little better understanding of the ground you are buying.
Lee’s harried army, desperate to reach needed supplies, passed through the village of Appomattox Court House then went another three miles in their attempt to reach Appomattox Station on the South Side Rail Road.
There, three trainloads of quartermaster stores, sent from Lynchburg, awaited the Confederates. They were not aware that Federal cavalry were moving quickly toward the station along another route.
Lee’s column was led by General R. Lindsey Walker, his Third Corps artillery commander, who had with him the army’s surplus artillery (about 25 to 50 guns), baggage and hospital trains and numerous artillerymen armed as infantry.
On the morning of April 8, 1865, Walker had his men go into park about a mile from the station. Never expecting northern troops to be approaching the scene, no one was prepared for what was about to happen.
Advance squadrons of General George A. Custer’s troopers soon reached Appomattox Station after hearing earlier about the trains waiting there. It took but a single regiment, the 2nd New York Cavalry, to capture those trains without a fight.
Back in Walker’s camp, the men looked in the direction of the station only to see Custer’s horsemen begin forming for an attack. “Yankees! The cavalry are coming; they are at the station and coming up the hill!” The men prepared for an impending cavalry charge.
It was now about 4 p.m. as Walker set up his cannons in a hollow circle along a slight ridge facing the station area. What was soon to become a unique battlefield that featured artillery versus cavalry was not really suitable for either one. The land was densely overgrown with timber and brush, being only intersected by small dirt bridle paths cutting through it.
Custer’s men made a series of haphazard and uncoordinated attacks upon the Confederate artillery battle line. Using canister at close range against the mounted Union troopers, Walker’s men threw back these charges.
Finally, between 8 and 9 p.m., under the cover of darkness but using the light of a full moon, Custer, in a final push, led three brigades into a hail of canister until they reached the Confederate guns. The artillery defenders either scattered or were captured as the fighting came to a close.
In all, Custer captured 30 cannon, around 150 to 200 wagons, and close to 1,000 prisoners.
The fight at Appomattox Station has been overshadowed by the surrender the next day. Few realize that this clash was directly accountable for Lee surrendering when and where he did.
I believe that the veterans of Appomattox on both sides, who had fought so hard and sacrificed so much – as well as those who never made it that far – would salute us, grateful that we are remembering their service by saving the ground over which they struggled.
Appomattox was an ending, but it was also a beginning. And for millions of Americans who either have gone there or will go there in the future, it has an emotional resonance that is unmatched . . . stand on that ground, and you truly feel the significance of what happened there.
Today, I ask you to give the gift of history, not only for yourself, but also for all future generations of Americans.
As you can see, I have sent along a sheet of CWPT return-address labels as a small gift for you. These are always very popular, and I have been hearing from many members that their supplies were running low. Please accept them with my compliments, and please use them to help us spread the word about the critical loss of our nation’s battlefields.
It’s not every day that you and I get the chance to save $1,725,000 worth of hallowed ground for $15,000.
I hope you will agree that, as we head toward the end of this very challenging year, this is an opportunity that is just too important to our nation’s history and its future to pass up.
Right now, to “seal the deal” and go to closing on this property before December 31, if you can help me raise our $15,000 commitment as soon as possible, I hope you will.
Will you consider making your gift of $32 (1/10 of an acre), $64 (1/5 of an acre), or $163 (1/2 of an acre)?
Perhaps you can help buy a full acre at $326, or possibly two acres for $652, three acres for $978, or even four acres for $1,304. Whatever the amount of your gift, please know that you have my deepest personal thanks for your commitment.
You are the reason why CWPT has been able to save 28,000 acres over the years. I simply cannot tell you just how important your help has been in our mission to save America’s Civil War battlefields.
Please join me in taking advantage of this astounding $115-to-$1 match, and help CWPT rescue another 46 acres of important hallowed ground that was once believed to be lost.
I hope to hear back from you within the next week. Thank you, and please accept my best wishes!
Fighting for our history,
P.S. I honestly don’t know what I would do without you. Thank you a thousand times over for reading my letter to you, and thank you for even considering helping to save this land at Appomattox Station. And don’t forget – there’s more great information on our website at www.civilwar.org/appstation09.