Help Save 6 Acres at Cold Harbor

A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President

** 2014 Update: Fundraising has been completed for this effort to save 6 acres at Cold Harbor **

Dear Friend,

Jim LIghthizerAs the clock ticks down to the end of the year, I really did not want to “press my luck” by sending any more pleas for your help in 2013.

But I have one, final, important opportunity for us to save a crucial piece of hallowed ground at the historic Cold Harbor battlefield in Virginia . . .

. . . and this is such a unique situation that I thought you would want to know about it. If you can help me quickly raise the funds we need to save this land before January 31, 2014 . . .

I believe that I can get every penny of your gift back next year, to re-invest on another tract of hallowed ground on the Richmond battlefields.

How can I make a claim like this? Why do I believe that we will get back every dollar that you donate today?

It’s actually pretty simple, my friend. You see, the National Park Service wants this part of the Cold Harbor battlefield very badly. They want it included – as it should be – as part of the National Park there.

But as is often the case, we (the Civil War Trust) can move so much faster than the federal government can; we can work directly with the landowner and buy the land in the next six weeks.

Learn More Cold Harbor

Then, in 2014, once all of the slower-moving-but-still-necessary paperwork makes its way through the government bureaucracy, the National Park Service actually has money available to buy this crucial 6-acre parcel from us . . .

. . . meaning that we should – based on the property’s final appraisal – get reimbursed for every dollar we spend! Then, you have my word that I will turn around and invest those funds on another piece of important hallowed ground.

Maybe another way to think of is like this: Your urgent gift today will help save land at two battlefields, Cold Harbor right now, and another opportunity that presents itself next year.

My friend, as you are deciding on your final year-end giving priorities, I hope you will take this unique opportunity into account.

Not to put down the good work being done by any other charity you support, certainly, but if you want your generosity to do “double-duty” and help save land at two battlefields, I hope you will consider sending a final 2013 gift today.

Especially for ground so important as this land at Cold Harbor, which actually abuts already-preserved National Park land.

I realize that the battle at Cold Harbor really is not what you might think about during the holidays, but I believe it is still worth remembering:

Cold Harbor, Virginia, June 1864:

. . . That evening, in a tapering drizzle, Grant’s aide Horace Porter picked his way through the troops . . . to deliver orders for the morning assault. He noticed that many soldiers, who usually wore their coats day and night, in sun and rain, now had them off, and seemed to be making repairs to them… Then he could see that they were not sewing up rips. They were being calmly realistic, writing their names and addresses on slips of paper and pinning these to the backs of their coats, “so that their dead bodies might be recognized upon the field, and their fate made known to their families at home.”

— Excerpt from "Not War But Murder: Cold Harbor 1864" by Ernest B. Furgurson

Those boys in blue sure knew exactly what lay ahead of them at Cold Harbor, didn’t they?

Can you imagine for even a moment being one of those soldiers, with the odds so stacked against you, knowing that you had so little chance for success that you were calmly preparing to die?

Yet, as you well know, when the call came, those fated, brave men went forward with every ounce of strength they had.

My friend that is exactly what the Civil War Trust is doing right now, ironically, on that same battlefield.

As I write this letter to you, in the final days of 2013, I must tell you that the Trust has the opportunity to save six acres of some of the most important unprotected land anywhere on the Cold Harbor battlefield.

Please find the 6-acre site on the battlefield map I have sent you today, and see if you don’t agree that this land needs to be preserved for future generations.

This truly is blood-soaked soil, and today, its fate hangs in the balance. With all of the development pressures now facing the battlefields around Richmond, you and I both know the clock is ticking on this hallowed ground.

If we don’t save it, you can bet a land developer will be salivating over it. And you can imagine how a new “McMansion” would destroy the historical integrity of one of America’s most iconic battlefields.

In fact, not long ago a Richmond-area developer was actually quoted in the newspaper saying (boasting, really) that it was only a matter of “when” not “if” he and his ilk began ramping up their land-hungry efforts again, putting all of the unprotected hallowed ground around Richmond in jeopardy.

It won’t be easy, but you and I have tackled much more difficult — and expensive — challenges before, and remember, I am confident that we will get back every dollar you donate for this effort. There have not been too many transactions in my 14 years as president of the Civil War Trust of which I can say that.

The purchase price is $275,000. It is so high because there is a house currently on the property, which will have to be removed. (We have done this at many battlefields all across America.)

Today, all I ask you to do, my friend, is to consider — given the enormous historical significance of this property — making just one more gift before the end of 2013 to help save this hallowed ground.

You have already supported this mission so generously all year long that I am reluctant to even suggest an amount for you to give. All I can say is that I need your help to get this last-minute effort done, and that I will be grateful for any gift you can make.

Let me leave you with a final thought, one more in line with the season. Recently, I had a somewhat obvious insight: To the extent that you and I are successful in this life, it is due primarily to the effort we put into our relationships.

I am sure that if you look at your own life, you will agree. Any success we have saving battlefields together is about the relationship you have with the Civil War Trust (and I hope it is a rewarding one for you. I certainly cannot adequately express how much I value your support.)

Learn More Cold Harbor

The reason I can secure those crucial matching funds that help make all our preservation victories possible is due to the relationships that the Board, staff and I have established with decision-makers at all levels of government.

And to the extent that we can maintain positive relationships with private landowners, well, that makes our future work to save America’s hallowed ground possible. Please help me fulfill our obligation to this landowner who wants to do the “right thing” by selling their land to us, and not to a developer.

Like those Union boys at Cold Harbor, I know that the task before us will not be easy. But if you’ll stay by my side, I know we will succeed.

Your donation of any amount made before December 31 will help more than you know. And please don’t forget; I expect to get 100% back to re-invest on another piece of Richmond hallowed ground (and I will be sure to let you know which one when it comes up!)

Please let me hear back from you as soon as possible. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Thank You Very Much for another tremendous year saving America’s history and heritage.

Yours, ‘til our battle is won,

Jim Lighthizer

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