Save 240 Acres at the Bentonville Battlefield
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, CWPT President
“I was there [Bentonville] with a regiment that had faced Beauregard at Shiloh and Bragg at Stones River;
that had participated in nearly every battle of the Army of the Cumberland …
but for desperate valor on the part of the rebels, and for a desperate resistance … of our own men,
we saw nothing in four years of army life to compare with … Bentonville.”
— Private R.J. Heath, 34th Illinois
Dear Fellow Battlefield Preservationist,
That’s quite a statement, isn’t it? Even after epic battles such as Shiloh, Stones River, and the Atlanta Campaign, this young man bear witness in a letter home that he had seen nothing like the fighting at Bentonville in the closing days of the Civil War.
He was not alone. In hundreds of letters, diaries and reports, men on both sides testified to the extreme ferocity of this three-day 1865 battle…
“ …we heard the bullets whistling their death song…”
“ …like one continuous peal of heavy thunder…”
“…all agree that it was one of the hottest places we were ever in…”
Well today, with oil gushing from the Gulf of Mexico and the stock market acting like a roller coaster on three-day bender, if you are like me, you could probably use some good news right about now.
Try this: Today, you and I can save 240 key acres of hallowed Civil War battlefield ground at Bentonville in North Carolina!
Even better, my friend, is that CWPT has secured a tremendous matching grant to double every $1 you donate today to help save this priceless land…
… and candidly, I challenge any other entity in America today – for-profit or non-profit – to give you a bigger bang for your buck in this economy –
– especially when you consider that these 240 acres, contained in four separate parcels ranging over ground covered in all three days of this battle, will be added to the 902 acres CWPT has already helped to save at Bentonville, bringing our total to 1,142 acres! (Plus, the State of North Carolina has saved an additional 334 acres, now making Bentonville one of the better preserved Civil War battlefields in the nation.)
By acting today, you and I will be adding another 20% to what has already been saved at this historic place where, on March 19 – 21, 1865, Confederate General Joseph “Old Joe” Johnston lunged one last time at Union General William “Billy” Tecumseh Sherman, and the armies under two of the war’s most storied figures locked in a desperate struggle.
But even more important, these four land purchases will set in motion an intensive 18-month “North Carolina Legacy Campaign” that, when we are through, should see a total of 455 additional acres saved at Bentonville and Wyse Fork!
Let me say from the beginning: While certainly not the most expensive land we have ever saved, these acres will not be the cheapest. The total price tag for the 13 different properties we either have under contract or are working to get under contract will be fully $2,206,700.
But as I mentioned, the great news is that we are applying for and expect to receive fully half of that amount – $1,103,500 – in matching grants from the federal Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program!
Yes, that does mean that we have to raise $1.1 million as soon as possible to get $1.1 million in matching grants, and that will not be easy. But again, in this economy, can you name any other organization that is able to realize a 100 percent return on your investment?
I sure as heck can’t, and while I know many folks are still having to pull back on charitable giving a little right now, it seems a shame not to take advantage of this great matching grant opportunity… especially considering how much the soldiers sacrificed.
As we did successfully with the somewhat larger Virginia Legacy Fund last year, we will also be making our case to potential major donors and North Carolina foundations, to bring them in as partners in this effort, meaning that your gift could eventually be worth even more!
Just to remind you, according to the 1993 Congressional study on threatened Civil War battlefields, Bentonville is rated “Priority I.1, Class A,” meaning that the U.S. Congress declared it to be one of the eleven most important pieces of hallowed ground in America that needs to be urgently preserved.
Today, you and I can preserve forever, as a gift to our nation and every future generation of Americans, these currently available 240 acres of the most important hallowed ground at one of the most important Civil War battlefields in our country…
…with a 100 percent return on your battlefield preservation donation dollar! That, in my book, is called “making a difference” in this world.
Look at the CWPT Bentonville battle map, depicting the combat on all three days of the battle days of this struggle, and highlighting in yellow the property we are saving.
The red and blue arrows, markings and lines on the map show you, of course, the troop positions, charges and countercharges, and battle lines of the Federal and Confederate forces during this decisive fight.
On the First Day map, you can see we are saving part of the storied “Last Grand Charge of the Army of Tennessee.”
On the Second Day map, we are saving property that still shows remnants of earthworks, those silent sentinels of savage fighting.
And on the Third Day map, we are protecting even more ground near the spot where Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston literally had to flee on foot from Union who almost captured him.
Much like Gettysburg, Bentonville was an enormous three-day battle that ranged over literally 6,000 acres and several miles of roads.
Well, as you can clearly see, we are making enormous progress at Bentonville, and with your help, CWPT will be able save even more irreplaceable battlefield land.
With these purchases, you and I will be securing key sections of every part of this ENTIRE battlefield; we are adding in extraordinary fashion onto the success we have already achieved at Bentonville,
and setting the stage for our intensive push to save the rest of this battlefield!
You and I can never lose sight of the fact that CWPT is not just focusing on individual military campaigns…we’re not simply cataloging Northern victories versus Southern victories…or big, famous battles versus small, obscure conflicts…
…with every acre you and I preserve, we are saving America’s heritage. We are ensuring that the story – the ENTIRE story – of the American Civil War is available to all future Americans.
With every dollar you donate, you are helping CWPT ensure that this crucial, defining period of our nation’s history – which still resonates in our society and affects every one of us to this day – will never be forgotten.
Think about that a moment… the nation we enjoy today was forged in the crucible of the Civil War. Together, you and I are creating a legacy that all Americans – present and future – will be able to share…to stand in those places where we began our own American journey.
Of course, I believe that every American should feel this way about saving our nation’s Civil War battlefields, but I am realistic enough to know that, sadly, the vast majority of people don’t share our passion.
It’s not fair, but as so often happens, the real work falls to a handful of committed people, those who grasp the importance of their calling, and who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get the job done. I gratefully count you as one of those I can depend on.
If America’s Civil War battlefields are going to be saved, the extent to which they are preserved will be determined by the adults who are alive today… you and me, and people like us.
I now believe that the next five to six years – the period of time marked by the Sesquicentennial commemorations of the Civil War – may be the last real window of opportunity you and I will have to save large amounts of hallowed ground.
The battlefields will either be saved during this time of heightened interest and awareness, or these places we love so much will be developed and, therefore, destroyed.
You and I are part of “The Last Generation” that will have the chance to save the nation’s most significant Civil War battlefield land. This task has fallen to us, and how those hallowed, sanctified fields of valor will look to all future generations is now on our shoulders. This is our time.
One hundred fifty years from now, what do you want your descendants to see when they go to a Civil War battlefield like Bentonville? Do you want them to walk the fields – perhaps where a shared ancestor marched and fought and died – and have that place look and feel as it did in 1865?
Or are you content to have your great-grandchildren read a roadside sign, forcing them to imagine what happened on that storied ground, as they navigate through malls, over roads, around houses, across parking lots and other future forms of development that we can’t even imagine yet?
Please consider doubling the power of your donation and help save the first 240 acres of our larger 455-acre “North Carolina Legacy Campaign” today.
CWPT’s cost for these first 240 acres will be about $3,152 per acre. That works out to $1,576 per half acre, $788 for a quarter of an acre, $394 for 1/8 of an acre, or $250 for 1/12 of an acre.
Any amount you can give today will be an enormous boost. Please, I hope you will decide to join in this tremendous effort by making your most generous possible donation to the Civil War Preservation Trust, and help build on our unprecedented success at Bentonville.
Thank you so much for all you are doing for battlefield preservation.
Your obedient servant,
P.S. I will never live long enough to truly express my gratitude for all you have done for the cause. I am humbled by your dedication. Please let me hear back from you as soon as possible, and please accept my deepest thanks for your continued generosity. You are a true American hero, in my book! Also…please don’t forget that our website at civilwar.org is open 24 hours per day to serve you!