Save 49 Acres at Cedar Creek
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, CWPT President
NEAR CEDAR CREEK, VIRGINIA… OCTOBER, 1864
Confederate General Jubal Early knows his time is running out…
He must attack or he must pull back for lack of supplies.
Federal General Phil Sheridan believes that Early’s forces are no longer a threat,
and he leaves the army to attend a conference in Washington.
The result is the bloody, savage Battle of Cedar Creek, the only Civil War battle
where both sides won and lost in the same day…
Dear Valued Friend,
Right now, I believe I know exactly how General Early felt. Because for people such as you and me who care deeply about preserving America’s Civil War battlefields, time is quickly running out . . . especially for two crucial tracts of the Cedar Creek battlefield in Virginia, totaling 49 acres.
Today, as we launch into a new and uncertain year, I ask you to stand with the Civil War Preservation Trust (to the extent you are able) and dig in to defend this crucial ground.
To bring this historic transaction about, CWPT has put together one of our biggest multiplication factors ever – $30 to $1! – to stretch your generosity even farther in these tough times. Let me quickly explain…
As you can see, I have posted an online map of the entire Cedar Creek battlefield (PDF) for you, outlining what has been preserved, what a foreign-owned limestone mining company has already destroyed, and the two tracts that we are working closely to save right now.
While exploring this appeal online, I especially encourage you to:
Watch the exclusive animated map and presentation we have prepared for you,
View the many photos of the horrific damage the mining company has already done,
and send an online "Letter of Concern” directly to the mine owners.
You can do all of this with just a few clicks on your computer.
Make no mistake. Cedar Creek – ranked by Congress as far back as 1993 as one of the most important, endangered sites in America – is still one of the most imminently threatened battlefields in the nation right now.
Last year, after we named Cedar Creek as one of the most endangered battlefields in the nation, CWPT fought a long and protracted public struggle to stop the mining operation from expanding onto other sections of the battlefield, as it is literally ripping deep, irreparable gashes into the hallowed ground.
The local politicians, however, sided with the strip mining operation by one vote! We are now working with federal and state officials and a coalition of national and local preservation groups to find an alternative to this shortsighted mining expansion.
But we cannot just sit and wait while the fate of Cedar Creek is decided elsewhere. We are moving forward proactively to save as much of this highly endangered battlefield as possible while there is still time.
The tracts highlighted on your map are literally at the intersection of two major interstate highways in Northern Virginia. [if you haven't already, download map of Cedar Creek]
The strip mining operations daily churn away less than a mile away.
The area of the battlefield we are working to preserve is still a family farm, looking much as it did at the time of the battle, but mark my words – some developer already thinks it would be perfect for residential development, once the housing market rebounds.
That’s why it’s crucial for us to secure it now – bad economy or not – before it’s swallowed whole and lost to our nation forever.
The courage, valor and determination of the men who fought at Cedar Creek, and the memory of more than 8,500 casualties suffered by both armies, is in danger of being erased.
Steadily and relentlessly, the significance of Cedar Creek will be blotted out for future Americans. No longer would you be able to stand on that ground and imagine you are a slowly awakening Union soldier that crisp October morning, seemingly safely dug in near the meandering banks of a Virginia stream called Cedar Creek.
No longer could you stand there and imagine that you are one of Early’s soldiers, concealed as fog hangs low over the Blue Ridge, and knowing in your heart what your general knows in his: this may be your last chance to drive the Northerners out of the Valley.
Amid relentless truck traffic, choking clouds of limestone dust, new housing developments and their inevitable sprawl . . .
. . . no longer would you or anyone else ever again experience what it was really like to be on that ground when:
Early’s dawn surprise attack began, rolling up parts of three Union Army Corps, including troops commanded by Colonel (and future 19th president) Rutherford B. Hayes;
Near-starved Confederates lost their momentum when they stopped to eat the Union soldiers’ breakfasts and raid their camps;
“Little Phil” Sheridan rode onto the field, rallying his troops and ordering 21-year-old Captain (and future 25th president) William McKinley to reorganize stragglers for a counterattack, one that ended the Confederates’ hopes in the Valley.
One Vermont captain later said, “I never on any battlefield saw so much blood as on this of Cedar Creek. The firm limestone soil would not receive it, and there was no pitying summer grass to hide it.”
Here’s the question I must ask you to answer today:
Will you ride to the rescue and stand with the Civil War Preservation Trust today, helping us to hold our lines against the aggressive onslaught of threats facing this battlefield?
We are all still on pins and needles about the economy . . . I know many folks aren’t able to give as much as they have in years past . . . but I can tell you that without your immediate help, we will likely be forced back and unable to defend this hallowed ground that means so much to us.
As I mentioned, CWPT has put together a tremendous matching grant opportunity, so that your donation dollar goes farther than it does with any other organization you may support.
The purchase price for these two tracts totaling 49 acres is $1.5 million! At over $30,000 per acre (one of the tracts has a modern home on it), normally, we might have to walk away from this deal.
However, of that $1.5 million purchase price, there is $1.223 million in funds that were set aside long ago by former U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords for land acquisition here . . .
. . . PLUS we are applying for a matching grant of $227,000 from the Commonwealth of Virginia, which (you may remember) created a once-in-a-lifetime $5 million matching fund last year for Virginia battlefields.
What do all these numbers mean? The bottom line is that if CWPT can raise the final $50,000, we can save these 49 crucial Cedar Creek acres, saving a flabbergasting $1.5 million of battlefield land – a multiplication factor of $30-to-$1!
The Civil War Preservation Trust has won many important victories recently, despite the struggling economy . . .
. . . but like the Confederates at Cedar Creek, we can’t lose our momentum or else we will, in the words that Confederate General John B. Gordon used to describe the battle, convert “the brilliant victory of the morning into disastrous defeat in the evening.”
I cannot stress to you enough how important your support is – no matter the amount – to our ultimate success.
You, of course, know best what amount you feel most able to contribute to this effort. Let me simply restate that whatever the amount you decide to send – and I am grateful for every penny – it will be multiplied into thirty times its value! +
I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible. Thank you again for all you do.
P.S. People often ask me, “Jim, I’m already donating as often as I can. Is there anything else I can do to help beyond contributing money?” The answer is YES! We all know there is strength in numbers. So if you believe in CWPT’s effectiveness and efficiency, please help spread the word about our mission – to friends, family, fellow round table members, anyone with an interest in history. The best introduction to our work is our website – www.civilwar.org – it’s easy to remember and easy to forward in an e-mail. And in these tough economic times, it’s the best way to help recruit new members at almost no cost! Thank you!