Save 1,180 Acres at Ten Battlefields

A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President

Dear Fellow Student of History,

Jim LIghthizer Will you help me make history today?

I ask this obvious question, because here at the Civil War Trust, with the end of the year rapidly approaching, we are working to save several absolutely critical parcels of hallowed ground, and I ask you to be a part of one of the most wide-ranging preservation efforts we have ever attempted.

But even more than that . . . I want to give you the opportunity to make an enormous impact on this great cause by saving 1,180 acres of hallowed groundat ten different battlefields – with a dollar-match opportunity that will turn every $1 you give today into $10.10!

Today I am presenting for your approval one of the most wide-ranging opportunities to save hallowed ground for future generations in the history of the battlefield preservation movement!

First things first. Here for your inspection is a list of the projects for which we need to complete the fundraising by December 31:

Name   # of Acres  Year  Casualties
Brandy Station, Virginia   10 acres  1863  1,100
Cedar Creek, Virginia  17 acres  1864  8,575
Glendale, Virginia  2 acres  1862  6,500
Bentonville, North Carolina  10 acres  1865  4,740
Fort Donelson, Tennessee   4 acres  1862  17,400
Prairie Grove, Arkansas  40 acres  1862  2,600
Elkins Ferry, Arkansas  448 acres  1864  100
Falling Waters, Maryland  4 acres  1863  1750
Honey Springs, Oklahoma  5 acres  1863  700
Sand Creek, Colorado  640 acres  1864  200
TOTAL  1,180 acres    43,665

As you can see, this represents four Eastern Theatre battlefields, two Western Theatre Battlefields and four Trans-Mississippi battlefields, spread out across seven states, from the outskirts of Richmond to near the Rocky Mountains!

This ground witnessed combat that occurred from early 1862 to early 1865, saw more than 43,000 casualties where soldiers lost lives and limbs, and represents battlefields that we have almost completed, as well as some where we are preserving land for the first time.

How much will all this cost? Well, this is where it gets truly astonishing: Today, these 1,180 acres have a total value of $2,707,000, and if we had to pay full price, we just couldn’t do it. But, today, thanks to an array of matching fund sources, you and I can save all of this land for just . . . $268,000!

This means we have $2,439,000 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 generous personal donations – which give us fully 90.1% of the total funds needed to save all this land.

If you and I can raise the final 9.9% – $268,000 – we will be able to claim this matching money, and save 1,180 acres of hallowed American battlefield ground.

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 $10.10! That is powerful!

If you are like me, and love saving a lot of our country’s history – at ten different battlefields – this is your chance!

I know the holiday season is upon us, and you are already very busy. Rather than write out page after page of the history of each piece of ground, I hope you will forgive me for summarizing, in the interest of time, a quick explanation of why it is important for us to save each of these parcels, as you look at each tract on our maps. Here it goes:

Brandy Station
The 10 acres to save at the historic Fleetwood hill portion of Brandy Station are in yellow.

#1 - Brandy Station, Virginia

June 9, 1863; these 10 acres would add key land to the historic Fleetwood Hill portion of this battlefield, where you, your fellow Trust members, and local partners have already saved (and reclaimed) some of the most important land in America.

For two hours, Union and Confederate regiments fought, through charge and counter-charge, close-range pistol shots and saber blows, for control of Fleetwood Hill. Ultimately, roughly five thousand men were committed to the struggle for the historic hill. The property we are working to save today was at the center of this prolonged, intense engagement.

Cedar Creek
The 17 acres to save at Cedar Creek are shown in yellow.

# 2 - Cedar Creek, Virginia

October 19, 1864; these 17 crucial acres would add to the 622 we and other groups have already preserved at this key site, one of the most significant battles of the entire war. This particular land saw one of the most important episodes associated with the morning phase of the battle. The Union stand on Cemetery Hill occurred just to the northeast of this parcel.

As you may recall, Cedar Creek is also one of America’s most-threatened battlefields due to an on-going mining operation that has already destroyed key portions of this hallowed site, and will destroy much more, unless we can save it first. Plus, a recent National Park Service report noted that Cedar Creek is “considered within the Washington, DC commuting area,” and “conversion of land to commercial and residential uses is steadily increasing.” The time to save this battlefield is NOW!

The 2 acres to save at Glendale are shown in yellow.

#3 - Glendale, Virginia

June 30, 1862; this is another crucial part of this “Seven Days” battlefield, which – thanks to you – we are getting close to completing. Historian Robert E.L. Krick says, “During the early evening, when the Union perimeter west of the crossroads collapsed and disaster loomed, reinforcements swept through this property on their way into action. The farthest Confederate surge, from west to east, stalled in this vicinity just before darkness ended the fight.”

He also says of this land – and I heartily concur – that “its acquisition and preservation is the last piece in what would become an unbroken one-mile corridor on the south side of the Darbytown and Long Bridge roads, a strip of historic land that stretches from the crossroads all the way to the point where the Confederate attackers first collided with George McCall’s division at the start of the battle.” A one-mile corridor of preserved battlefield land is a major accomplishment, my friend.

The 10 acres to save at Bentonville are shown in yellow.

#4 - Bentonville, North Carolina

March 19-21, 1865; the last major battle fought by the Western Armies, and the biggest fought in North Carolina. The 10 acres of land we are targeting today was involved in both the 2nd and 3rd days of the battle, and adds yet another crucial piece to our previous tremendous success at Bentonville, now closing in on 1,800 acres YOU saved to create a premier state park.

Fort Donelson Map Portion
The 4 acres to save at Fort Donelson are shown in yellow.

#5 - Ft. Donelson, Tennessee

February 15, 1862; the place where “Ulysses Simpson” Grant became “Unconditional Surrender” Grant, thanks to the message that he sent to the fort’s Confederate defenders. Many years ago, the National Park Service did a wonderful job preserving the fort. In the last 15 years, you and I have done an even better job saving where the actual battle of Fort Donelson was fought, and these four acres add significantly to that success story.

Prairie Grove
The 30 acres to be protected are shown in yellow.

#6 - Prairie Grove, Arkansas

December 7, 1862; fought just seventy-nine years before Pearl Harbor, this battle established Union control of northwest Arkansas early in the war. Protecting these 40 acres will add tremendously to the existing state park (much of which you and your fellow members have helped to save) – including the “jumping off point” of the Union line that decided the outcome.

Elkins Ferry and Falling Waters
Left: The 448 acres to save at Elkins Ferry are shown in yellow on the map to the left; Right: The 4 acres to save at Falling Waters are shown in the map to the right.

#7 - Elkins Ferry, Arkansas

April 3-4, 1864; you and I have the chance to save an astounding 448 acres of this sprawling trans-Mississippi battlefield (also known as “Okolona”) where Union and Confederate cavalry clashed. A partnership of state and local entities has joined with us to save this essential part of Arkansas Civil War history, the first land we have ever saved at Elkin’s Ferry.

#8 - Falling Waters (or Williamsport), Maryland

July 6-16, 1863; in the aftermath of Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee’s battered army retreated toward Hagerstown and Williamsport. Reaching the rain-swollen Potomac River, Lee could not cross, and he entrenched to await General George Meade’s advance. Saving these four acres today will help tell the story of the final chapter of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Sand Creek and Honey Springs
Left: The 5 acres to save at Honey Springs are shown in yellow on the map to the left; Right: The 640 acres to save at Sand Creek are shown in yellow on the map to the right.

#9 - Honey Springs, Oklahoma

July 17, 1863; at almost the same moment that Lee and Meade were fighting at Falling Waters, half a continent away, a battle raged for control of what was then called “Indian Territory,” with Indians and U.S. Colored Troops under Union command fighting more Indian troops under Confederate command! Historian Ed Bearss has called this land one of the most important unprotected USCT sites in the nation, and it will add vital presently unpreserved acres to the site of Oklahoma’s largest battle.

#10 - Sand Creek, Colorado

November 29-30, 1864; Colorado’s only Civil War battlefield, it was not a fight between Yankees and Confederates. In this dark chapter of our history, also known as the “Chivington Massacre,” Union troops under the command of Col. John Chivington attacked a settlement of Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians, killing mostly women and children. Chivington thought this action would propel him into Congress; instead, it ruined him, and helped solidify decades of conflict between western expansionists and Native Americans. And as our mission is to save our nation’s Civil War history – including one of its saddest chapters – this is a major acquisition.

Wow . . . so there you have it, my friend. Ten battlefields . . . seven states . . . ground where Union and Confederate soldiers, which included U.S. Colored Troops and Indians all fought, bled and died as part of this amazing continent-spanning story that is the American Civil War.

Do you think it is worth it for us to raise $268,000 before the end of this year to save $2.7 million worth of hallowed ground, turning every $1 you send today by $10.10?

With a $10.10-to-$1 match for these historic properties, you can save these 1,180 acres for just $226 per acre! (That may be one of the lowest costs-per-acre we’ve ever had.)

Please let me hear back from you as soon as possible with your urgent gift to help me raise the $268,000 we need to secure $2,707,000 in hallowed ground at ten battlefields forever. Thank you very much for being a hero to future generations, by saving this hallowed ground now, while we can.

Awaiting your reply,

Jim Lighthizer

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