Save 14 Acres at Chancellorsville
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
Chancellorsville, Virginia, 1863: Confederate General Robert E. Lee boldly splits his forces in the face of the enemy, and achieves his greatest victory.
Chancellorsville, Virginia, 2012: By combining forces with a local battlefield preservation organization, the Civil War Trust can achieve another tremendous victory, saving 14 crucial acres of Stonewall Jackson’s famous flank attack, and turning every $1 you donate into $5.00!
Dear Fellow Preservationist,
This is one opportunity you and I have been waiting for.
Jackson’s Flank Attack at Chancellorsville.
Say those words to just about any Civil War buff, and you and I get similar mental images, don’t we?
I am sure you can imagine the long column of 26,000 men silently, urgently pressing forward through the wilderness on a 14-mile forced march around the Union right flank, Jackson himself intently insisting, “Close up, close up”...
... you can almost feel their anticipation building as they realize that “Old Jack” has done it again, has gotten them into a position on the enemy’s flank, seemingly unnoticed...
... you can envision what it would have looked like as they were quietly deploying in their battle lines, stretching for miles astride the old Orange Turnpike, waiting to step off on the attack, as all the while the sun drops closer and closer to the horizon, precious minutes of daylight slipping away.
And then, with the simple words, “You can go forward, then,” Stonewall Jackson unleashes one of the most successful and famous maneuvers in all of military history.
Today, I need your help to save 14 crucial acres of this hallowed ground, historically irreplaceable land that is right in the heart of Jackson’s legendary attack!
And by acting quickly, The Civil War Trust can turn every $1 you donate today into $5.00 to help save this land.
For your review, here is how this transaction is structured:
As you can see on your map, the 14 acres pictured in yellow on the south side of the Orange Turnpike (modern-day Route 3) may not be the biggest piece of hallowed ground we have ever helped to preserve, but it is without question one of the most significant.
Purchase price: $475,000. If you’ve ever been to Chancellorsville, you may recall seeing an awful brick “castle” building that, for many years, was a relic and souvenir shop.
That building has been shuttered and abandoned for some time, creating a major eyesore on critically important battlefield land...
... and today, you and I have the opportunity to reclaim and redeem that hallowed ground!
The best news of all: We don’t have to come up with the full $475,000. Here’s how we are applying our expertise with matching funds to this transaction:
First, we’re partnering with our good friends at the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust (CVBT), one of the best regional preservation groups in America. (They are actually purchasing the property.)
But the lion’s share of the funds to save this land will come from the federal and state matching grant programs that we have worked so hard to create – $237,500 from the federal program, plus another wonderful $100,000 from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
With the CVBT putting in about $42,500, that leaves the final $95,000 for us to cover – as members of the Civil War Trust – to seal the deal and save this Jackson’s Flank attack property.
I want you to notice a few other points as you look at your map. First, please take note of how many other key parts of this battlefield we are saving in this area.
Parcel by parcel, acre by acre, you and I (and our friends at CVBT!) are saving one of the “Top Ten” most important Civil War battlefields in just about anybody’s book.
And because of its position and shape, this particular 14-acre part of the battlefield is doubly important, because it contains 450 feet of road frontage on the Orange Turnpike (Route 3) plus another 680 feet of road frontage on the Orange Plank Road.
So for just $95,000 (which we do need to raise within the next 90 days, so our friends at CVBT are not left holding the bag), we can help save $475,000 worth of immeasurably valuable battlefield – that’s a leveraging factor of $5 to $1!
Your $25 donation suddenly has the power of a $125 gift; $50 will pack a $250 wallop; $100 will buy $500 worth of this land, and so on.
You don’t need me to give you the historic significance of this battle; the guys who were there can do a better job than I could anyway!
Lieutenant James P. Smith, an officer on Jackson’s staff wrote that “the woods rang with the bugle call . . . for a moment all the troops seemed buried in the depths of the gloomy forest, and then suddenly the echoes waked and swept the country for miles, never failing until heard at the headquarters of [Union commander Joseph] Hooker at Chancellorsville – the wild ‘rebel yell’ of the long Confederate lines.”
On the other side of the surprised and scattered lines, after firing a few shots, it seemed to Sergeant Luther Mesnard, 55th Ohio Infantry, that “the whole army had gone to pieces in a panic. All was lost – Oh my country, can this be? There was no one near me whom I knew. I look back on this as the darkest day of my experience.”
Chancellorsville is not only one of the most important Civil War battlefields – that goes without saying.
But even more than that, leaders from the U.S. military as well as from armies all around the world still come to Chancellorsville every year to learn about what happened there.
So for anyone who cares about American history, the Chancellorsville battlefield is one of the most important places in our nation.
It is also one of the most threatened.
Spotsylvania County, Virginia, where the battlefield is situated, is still one of the fastest growing counties in America.
Even in the economic downturn, the all-consuming sprawl that has engulfed Fredericksburg to the east is still relentlessly pushing its way westward, to the very boundaries of the protected battlefield.
State Route 3, a major transportation artery, already slices through the heart of the existing protected battlefield, clogging with roaring traffic the very same road down which the Confederates charged.
This is “must-have” ground, my friend, for three crucial reasons:
First, of course, is that it is hallowed ground. American soldiers fought and died there, and it would be a desecration, in my eyes, to see this land chopped up for more houses or another gas station.
Second, we need to use the $237,500 in federal grant money and the $100,000 in state grant money; you have heard me say many times the worst thing you can do is ever tell a governmental body that you didn’t spend the funds they stuck their necks out to get for you – good luck ever getting another nickel in the future!
Third, if we can raise our share of the match – $95,000 – within the next 90 days, everybody wins... the Civil War Trust, the local preservation group, the landowner, and every human being who ever wants to visit Chancellorsville in the future and learn what happened there.
At whatever amount you feel you can participate in this historic acquisition, you can feel justifiably proud about saving something that will last forever.
Historian and CVBT Board Member Robert K. Krick has called this effort, “a spectacular preservation achievement... Permanent protection of impressive stretches of frontage on both historic roads, right in the midst of Jackson’s flank attack, does much to guarantee the survival of the historic setting. Future generations will find the scene much as it looked in 1863, rather than covered with asphalt, nacho stands and petroleum pumps.”
I hope you will consider joining me in taking advantage of the $5-to-$1 matching opportunity, and help the Civil War Trust reclaim 14 acres of some of the most historic hallowed ground anywhere in America.
Please let me hear back from you as soon as possible. Thank you for your continuing, tremendous support.
On to victory,
P.S. You can save this land because you’re an admirer of Stonewall Jackson... you can help save this land because you’re a fan of Robert E. Lee, or even if you had an ancestor in either the Army of Northern Virginia or the Army of the Potomac... you can help save this land because you think it’s wrong to build houses or shopping centers on hallowed ground... you can help save this land because you agree that it’s better to preserve open space and parkland.
My point is that each of these reasons is just as important as the others. Whatever your personal reasons, please get involved and join me today in saving this crucial battlefield, and the thousands of additional acres that are threatened at this very moment.
Visit our website at www.civilwar.org/chancellorsville2012 to learn more about this crucial piece of ground, and about how you can get our FREE Chancellorsville battle app for your iPhone or Android smartphone, so that you can take a tour of the battlefield no matter where you are!
I can’t save one square inch of dirt without you. Thank you again, ten thousand times over. 2012