Save 104 Acres at Glendale and First Deep Bottom

A Message from Jim Lighthizer, CWPT President

Dear Fellow Battlefield Preservationist,

Jim LIghthizerIt is not often that you and I have the chance to save hallowed Civil War battlefield land that:

1. Saw significant action, important maneuvering and desperate fighting in two separate major Civil War battles; and

2. Is also highly threatened and at continual risk for destruction by residential development; and

3. Also comes with a highly attractive $5.62-to-$1 match, and includes a landowner generously donating nearly $475,000 in the value of their property; and

4. Essentially completes the preservation of an entire Civil War battlefield!

Sometimes, we’ll get lucky, and be able to have one or two of these elements in a single transaction.

But as this tumultuous 2010 draws to a close, I cannot ever recall a time when we have had all four.

Learn More about Glendale

Learn More about First Deep Bottom

As you can see on the official battle map that I have sent to you, these 104 acres represent key staging and artillery positions for Confederate General James Longstreet’s troops during the June 30, 1862 Battle of Glendale / Frayser’s Farm, one of the key battles of the epic Seven Days Campaign…

…and this same ground is also the unprotected half of the First Deep Bottom battlefield (with your help, CWPT saved the other half of this battlefield in 2008) from the 1864 Petersburg Campaign!

And as you can further see from the other document (PDF) I’ve sent, this land was already slated for a residential subdivision and was on the verge of being lost forever!

I understand that “First Deep Bottom” is not a battle that most people – even many Civil War buffs – will have on their list of “Top Ten” conflicts they know much about.

But as Harry Truman once said, “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.

This is exactly why it is important for us to save America’s endangered Civil War battlefields like First Deep Bottom: so that we can all continue to learn about the history we do not know.

At the battle of First Deep Bottom, in conjunction with the explosion of the mine at what later became known as “The Crater,” Ulysses Grant attempted to get Robert E. Lee to shift troops from the Petersburg lines to the outskirts of Richmond. As Grant wrote in his memoirs:

“The mine was constructed and ready to be exploded, and I wanted to take that occasion to carry Petersburg if I could. It was the object, therefore, to get as many of Lee’s troops away from the south side of the James River as possible.

“Accordingly, on the 26th, we commenced a movement with Hancock’s corps and Sheridan’s cavalry to the north side by the way of Deep Bottom, where Butler had a pontoon bridge laid. The plan was to let the cavalry cut loose, get by Lee’s lines and destroy as much as they could of the Virginia Central Railroad…”

If all the stars had aligned for the Union forces, Grant had hoped to take Petersburg and Richmond at nearly the same time.

But as you know, the explosion at the Crater was, in Grant’s own estimation, “a stupendous failure,” and the Confederate counterattack at Deep Bottom was just strong enough to allow Lee to secure his position.

Two years ago, not one acre of this crucial Civil War story was saved. Today, we have the chance to save nearly the entire battlefield.

Two years ago, this battlefield – and the sacrifice of about 750 casualties made on this hallowed ground – was about to be erased forever under yet another new, non-descript housing subdivision.  Today, we are on the verge of saving this land and opening it up to the public forever.  

Two years ago, this land was priced far too high for us to afford. Today, I can multiply every $1 you send and turn it into $5.62 to save this land!

But as you can clearly see, our preservation of these 104 acres not only nearly completes the First Deep Bottom battlefield, it also adds tremendously to the Glendale / Frayser’s Farm battlefield, and gets us one major step closer to finishing up THAT key site as well!

On June 30, 1862, the six brigades of General James Longstreet’s division formed up on, and began their decisive assault from, the 104 acres we are saving today, as well as the 125 acres we saved in 2008.  Most of Longstreet’s artillery supported the attack from the land we are saving, as well.

And while we’re talking about artillery, remember what artillerist and Confederate Brigadier General E.P. Alexander had to say about the significance of the fighting at Glendale:

“Never, before or after, did the fates put such a prize within our reach.  It is my individual belief that on two occasions in the four years, we were within reach of military successes so great that we might have hoped to end the war with our independence… the first was at Bull Run [in] July ’61…this [second] chance of June 30th ’62 [at Glendale] impresses me as the best of all.”

Don’t forget:  Even if developers are not able to build as many houses as they used to, they are still in a frenzy to buy open land right now, for when the economy does rebound.  The pressure is still on us to save this hallowed ground while we can!

The last piece of the puzzle that I can fill in for you is how CWPT is going to pay for it.

The purchase price for these 104 acres is $1,475,000 – about $14,200 per acre… expensive, yes, but that is less than what we paid per acre for the 125 acres we bought in 2008!

The good news is that we can apply for a federal matching grant of $737,500 to help fund this transaction, plus the landowner is making a tremendous donation of value of $475,000…

 … meaning that if we can raise $262,500 – or just 17.8 percent of the total cost – we can leverage matching grants for the remaining $1,212,500!  That is a $5.62-to-$1 multiplier of your donation dollar!

Every $1 you give turns into $5.62, and (I believe this point is extremely essential) we are saving all that we can save of First Deep Bottom, an important Grant vs. Lee battlefield – if successful, we get to take this one out of the “Endangered” column and put it into the “Saved!” column.

And at the same time, we are adding even more to the important story of Glendale, so that all future generations can go there to learn and enjoy that special ground.

While I am busy quoting historical figures to you, let me give you one, in closing, from Teddy Roosevelt.  TR said this of The Grand Canyon, but I believe it is absolutely appropriate for our cause of saving American heritage battlefield land, as well:

“Leave it as it is.  You cannot improve upon it… man can only mar it – keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you.”

Will you please send the most generous contribution you can make at this time to help CWPT raise our portion of the match, $262,500?  I know this is a lot of money, and the economy is still tough on most folks right now, but please remember that every $1 you give to this effort is multiplied into $5.62 – a fantastic return on your charitable “investment.”

Any amount will help, and will be greatly, humbly appreciated.  I can never thank you enough for your stalwart support.

I remain, very truly yours,

Jim Lighthizer

P.S. A final, wonderful quote: Before his death in 1870, Robert E. Lee penned a letter to Col. Charles Marshall in which he said that we must cast our eyes backward in times of turmoil and change, concluding that "it is history that teaches us to hope." In these difficult days for battlefield preservation, it is with hope in my heart that I send this appeal to you today… to help save our history. Thank you again!

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