Help Save 479 Acres of Jackson's Flank Attack at Chancellorsville
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
**Update: Preservation Victory! This land has been preserved**
Dear Dedicated Friend,
Fifteen years ago, when I became the president of the Civil War Trust, one of the first things I did was ask the staff to prepare a “Top Ten” list of the most important and significant parcels of battlefield land that needed to be saved.
Over the years – and thanks primarily to you! – we have been able to save many of those crucial parts of our nation’s heritage and history. Other pieces of battlefield land on that list have been stubbornly unattainable.
Now, however, after years of diligent work and negotiations behind the scenes, you and I have the chance to preserve one of those places that I have dreamed about saving for fifteen years…
… an enormous (and enormously significant) number of crucial acres that help complete the story of one of America’s most important battlefields.
Today, it is my duty and honor to tell you that we now have the chance to save 479 acres of Stonewall Jackson’s Flank Attack at Chancellorsville – nearly $4.6 million worth of hallowed ground – for just $495,000!
I promise that’s no typo, my friend: If you act quickly, I can turn every $1.00 you give before the end of this year into $9.29 to save 479 acres at Chancellorsville.
It is the key moment of this important battle, often considered Robert E. Lee’s “masterpiece” and his greatest victory…
As shown on the battle map, Jackson has already led his 26,000 men on a punishing 12-mile march, and spent precious minutes on the afternoon of May 2, 1863, forming them into line of battle, three enormous ranks of battle-hardened veterans stretching for a mile on either side of the Orange Turnpike.
Union troops in this sector of the field have been sending urgent messages to headquarters all day about unusual activity to the west, warnings that are summarily dismissed by General Joseph Hooker and his staff.
Then, like the crash of a sudden summer thunderstorm, the Confederates smash upon the Eleventh Corps flank and rear, sending thousands of soldiers reeling eastward toward the Chancellorsville crossroads, a blow from which the Union army cannot recover.
To this day, Jackson’s Flank Attack at Chancellorsville remains one of the most studied – and most successful – military actions in the history of the world.
And today, you and I can save 479 acres of this irreplaceable hallowed ground – a tract so vast that it encompasses the land both farthest west and farthest east of any acres previously saved at the Flank Attack, as well as nearly DOUBLING the amount of land saved at this part of the battlefield!
With the historic 70-day campaign that I am announcing today, I humbly submit to you that:
- By saving 479 acres at the most historically significant unprotected hallowed ground at Chancellorsville, land that has been in the bull’s eye of development for many years…
- By quickly taking advantage of perhaps the last chance to work with a cooperative developer to create a win-win situation where we get to save nearly 500 acres of hallowed ground while they get to build homes on nearby-but-not-historic land…
- And by accepting the challenge of raising the funds needed now, even though we are still trying to close major efforts like Lee’s Headquarters, you and I can save an irreplaceable piece of our nation’s heroic past that, if we do not act, could become just another mass of ugly suburban sprawl.
I realize that I have been relentless in writing to you this year about opportunities to save hallowed ground, and I understand that many folks are still financially stretched, and must be mindful of the charitable contributions they make.
All I can say in my defense is that the Civil War Trust has never had a better opportunity to save this much supremely significant battlefield land at Chancellorsville. Period.
And to the extent you can budget your giving for the rest of this year, I hope you will agree the Civil War Trust is making great strides in achieving the mission dear to your heart: Saving America’s most important and threatened hallowed ground, by greatly multiplying your generosity with outside matching fund sources.
Over the past fifteen years, I have written many letters to many friends like you asking for your help, commitment and generosity to save hallowed ground.
Some of those efforts have had a higher “multiplier” of your donation dollar; some have been for battlefields that might be considered “more important”; a handful have even been for more acres.
But few – if any – have had the combination of 479 acres (worth nearly $4.6 million) at a battlefield as important as Chancellorsville that we can save for $495,000, a nearly $10-to-$1 return on your donation dollar. Through a combination of landowner donation and federal matching funds, you and I can save this land for pennies on the dollar.
And in the interest of full transparency, it is also possible that the National Park Service may – and I want to stress may – be able to purchase part of this land from us (once we preserve it) in the near future, which means that we could potentially recoup some of the $495,000 we are raising today.
(If that happens, my friend, I will make every effort to see that this money goes into buying even more land around the park, as I know that is what you would want me to do!)
That said, I believe the prudent thing to do right now is to proceed as if we will not receive even a penny from any other sources, and raise the full amount we need. That way, we can be sure the land will be saved, and that we will not be caught short.
I’m sure you can picture thousands of Confederates surging across this land, in furious pursuit of the surprised Union Eleventh Corps… the Federals quickly trying to form what would later be known as the “Buschbeck Line,” in a brave attempt to hold back the Confederate tide…
…Shelby Foote described one-armed General O.O. Howard at the Wilderness Church “clamping a stand of abandoned colors under the stump of his amputated arm,” while holding the reins of his horse with his other hand, tears in his eyes, as he tried to get his men to stand and form…
…Stonewall Jackson himself passing along the road adjacent to this property, stopping to pray over mortally wounded men, pressing forward where, a mile east and a few hours later, he himself would be mortally wounded.
This is our chance to do something that you and I can be proud to tell our grandchildren about… something that will live on forever.
I know you have already done so much for the cause of Civil War battlefield preservation. You have already been so generous, and you have saved so much hallowed ground for future generations.
I am so proud to be engaged in this noble work with you, and of all we achieved together, for the good of our nation. I can only hope that you, too, are proud to be a member of the Civil War Trust, because this organization would be nothing… could do nothing… without you.
Today, I ask you plainly and sincerely, if it is within your power to do so, to fulfill an “old friend’s” dream by helping the Civil War Trust save these crucial acres of priceless hallowed ground at Chancellorsville.
For a gift of $1,034 today, you could help save one full acre. A gift of $517 will help save ½ of an acre, $258 saves a quarter-acre, and $129 saves 1/8 of an acre. Even a gift of $100 or $50 sent today will help ensure our success.
As my special “Thank You!” for helping to preserve this land, for ANY gift of $18.63 or more today (in honor of this 1863 battle), I will send you a complimentary copy of our exclusive 2015 Civil War Trust wall calendar featuring the stunning battlefield images taken by members just like you.
These digital photos were among the more than 2,000 entered into the Civil War Trust’s Annual Photography Contest, to help advance the cause of battlefield preservation. I guarantee that you will be proud to hang this beautiful calendar in your home or office, and it is filled with great Civil War facts on each day of the year!
We design it so there is plenty of space to keep track of your appointments, and it will serve as a daily inspiration of your leading role in saving America’s Civil War heritage. It’s yours for a gift of just $18.63 or more today.
For your gift of $50 or more, it will be my honor to send you a copy of a new book entitled “That Furious Struggle: Chancellorsville and the High Tide of the Confederacy.”
Richly illustrated, including scores of maps and photographs, this book is part battle history and part guidebook, so you can experience the Chancellorsville battlefield – including the Jackson’s Flank Attack land you are helping to save – from the comfort of your own home.
This “Special Civil War Trust Preservation Edition” has been printed by the publisher exclusively for donors to this effort, and quantities are limited so claim yours today by rushing your gift of $50 or more.
Please return your generous gift today, and join in this historic, unprecedented and absolutely necessary effort to save this key part of the Chancellorsville battlefield. I look forward to hearing back from you as soon as possible. Thank you.
With gratitude, appreciation and awe,
P.S. I started off this letter by telling you that this land at Chancellorsville has been on my personal “Top Ten” list almost since the first day I sat down at my desk. I have no right to ask you to help save this land as a personal favor to me. But I pray you will help anyway, as a personal favor to yourself, to your grandchildren, and to their grandchildren. You see, you and I are in the “forever” business: Your generosity today saves something important for all time. And so, again, I thank you.