Save 57 Battlefield Acres At Glendale
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
“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.”
Brigadier General Edward Porter Alexander, CSA
Dear Friend and Fellow Battlefield Defender,
May I quote to you a news article that – if it does not outrage you – will at least make your blood run cold?
Headline: In Eastern Henrico, Major Development a “Question of When.”
In this case, we are talking about Henrico (pronounced hen-RYE-co) County, Virginia, home to some of the most important Civil War battlefields in America, including the June 1862 Glendale / Frayser’s Farm battlefield.
The article interviews a major land developer, who casts a shameless eye at the “sprawling area east of Richmond. Comprising about half the county’s land, much of the district is farmland and forest.”
It goes on ominously to say that “having exhausted tracts for major projects to the west, developers are turning east.”
Then comes the quote from the developer that sounds like a direct challenge to me: “It’s no longer a question of whether it [development] is going to go in that direction, it’s a question of when.”
Rarely in this life does an adversary so clearly announce his battle strategy. You and I have been warned.
That’s why, today, as a residential and commercial development avalanche thunders outward from Richmond toward the sacred Civil War battlefields east of that historic city…
… I ask you to stand with me today and help save another absolutely crucial 57 acres of the Glendale Battlefield, where you, I and every other member of the Civil War Trust have already saved 619 acres.
With the historic battlefield preservation fight I am announcing today, I humbly submit to you that:
-- By saving these 57 acres of historically and strategically significant hallowed ground at one of America’s most important Civil War battlefields…
-- By quickly taking advantage of the last chance to save that storied place before it is obliterated forever by rapidly encroaching development…
-- And by accepting the extraordinary challenge of saving this much land with a $4.25-to-$1 match of your donation dollar – you and I can save an irreplaceable piece of our nation’s heroic past that, but for us, will soon be just another blot of ugly suburban sprawl.
As you look at the map of the property I have linked for you, you will see, highlighted in yellow, the 57 acres you and I have the chance to save at Glendale right now. You can clearly see this sacred soil is located at the most strategic part of this battlefield, just as it was on the day of the battle.
The historic road network at Glendale has changed since the War, but the fact remains that Robert E. Lee, new to the job as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, was trying to reach the critical crossroad junction there, to cut the retreating Union Army of the Potomac in half.
Today, these 57 acres represent a HUGE opportunity for you and me because, as you can see, they are some of the biggest tracts of land we have had the chance to save NORTH of the Darbytown Road.
You and I have done a remarkable job saving this battlefield south of this key artery. Now, we need to go on the offensive against the developers who are pressing right up against the boundaries of this map.
And make no mistake about it: If you and I do not save this land now, I have no doubt – NO DOUBT! – that in less than 10 years’ time, there will be multiple houses on this land, and likely even a gas station / convenience-store-type development, which is what this land is already zoned for!
Here are the combined numbers for these three tracts:
1. 57 acres
2. Total purchase price: $484,950 (a very fair price for land in that area!)
3. Total matching funds already in place: $370,975
4. Total remaining to be raised: $113,975.
As you can see, my friend, fully 77% of the money we need to save this land is already on the table, waiting for us to raise the final 23% to make it happen.
Put another way, every $1.00 you give today is already worth $4.25! Do you have any other investment that promises to give you an immediate 425% return on your dollar? I know I sure don’t!
As you consider this, I ask you to reflect on one point:
Together, you and I have saved literally thousands of acres of central, vital Civil War battlefield land at dozens of historic places, each of tremendous significance… places like Gettysburg, Antietam, Brandy Station, Fort Donelson, Chickamauga, Chancellorsville, Shiloh, Petersburg, Harpers Ferry, Franklin and scores more.
Every one of those blood-soaked acres – which, much like Glendale, were spared from rapacious developers who would pave over our heroic past – has been worth our highest and best efforts to save them.
But the battlefield at Glendale is not only arguably some of the most historically significant hallowed ground the Trust has ever saved, it is also one of the greatest historic preservation triumphs in American history!
First, the Civil War history…in the spring of 1862, Union General George B. McClellan was inching ever closer to the Confederate capital at Richmond… General Robert E. Lee, elevated from his desk job, had been in command of the Confederate army opposing “Little Mac” for a grand total of 30 days.
Beginning on June 25 with Oak Grove, the two armies clashed at a succession of places that are now enshrined in our nation’s history and memory…Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines’s Mill, Savage’s Station. Then, of course, came the Battle of Glendale.
On the night of June 29-30, General Lee put his forces in motion, seeking to cut off and smash McClellan’s army (which was “changing its base”) before it reached the sanctuary of the James River. Key to Lee’s plan was the critical crossroads at Glendale.
The Union brigades positioned around that intersection were not expecting a Confederate attack. And, as so often happened in that campaign, Lee’s orders miscarried, meaning that he could only bring a portion of his army to bear against the Federals. Confusion reigned supreme that day. The result, however, was a furious battle that none of the combatants ever forgot.
Let Confederate Major (later General) E. Porter Alexander briefly describe that afternoon for you:
“No more desperate encounter took place in the war; and nowhere else, to my knowledge, so much actual personal fighting with bayonet and butt of gun. Randol’s battery, over which it began, was taken and retaken several times. Once, when in possession of the 11th Alabama Regiment of Wilcox’s brigade, it was charged by McCall’s Pennsylvania Reserves, and after a desperate bayonet fight each side fell back to the adjacent woods.”
Union General George G. Meade, leading his men in those above-mentioned 4th and 7th Pennsylvania Reserves throughout this frenzied battle, and who was almost certainly on the property we are seeking to save, was severely wounded during the fight. Just imagine how different our history might be if one of those wounds had been mortal, and Meade never even made it to Gettysburg!
All of the eyewitness accounts tell of desperate, brutal, savage combat. But they don’t tell the whole story of Glendale…they don’t tell us why this land is so important to us today. To do that, let us once again consult some of the commanders who were on that field that day.
After the battle, Robert E. Lee reported, perhaps with a touch of regret, “Could the other commands have cooperated in this action, the result would have proved most disastrous to the enemy.”
Confederate General Daniel Harvey Hill was even more direct, saying, “Had all our troops been at Frayser’s Farm, there would have been no Malvern Hill.”
And lest you think this is just a lot of “Monday-morning quarterbacking” from the Confederates, let’s hear from Union Major General William B. Franklin: “Had a general engagement taken place, and had we been defeated, the army would have reached the James River, it is true, but instead of getting there as it did, with its morale unharmed, and with slight damage to its men and material, it would have been a disorganized mob, and as an army would have perished miserably.”
In short, had this day gone differently, the entire history of the War and our nation could have played out another way. In my book, that makes this ground not only truly hallowed, but also worthy of our best efforts to protect the memory of what was done there, and it is essential to our shared American story.
But please, don’t simply take my word on how significant all of this hallowed ground is. Historian Robert E. L. Krick says this about our efforts to save Glendale:
“These properties are highly significant areas associated with this battle. They include scenes of intense and important combat. The preservation of these tracts would add to the existing three-mile corridor of protected ground from the northern end of McCall’s line all the way south to the bottom tip of the Malvern Hill battlefield.”
He further tells us: “The recent preservation success at Frayser’s Farm / Glendale defies comparison. There has been nothing like it before in Virginia. Not all that long ago the battlefield occupied a well-deserved spot on the Civil War Trust’s list of the nation’s most imperiled Civil War sites. Only a handful of acres on the battlefield’s fringes enjoyed protection. Every single acre of the battlefield’s heart remained vulnerable, in an area booming with development.
“Never before in modern times has anyone preserved a major battlefield virtually from scratch. Once, one could not even find a safe roadside pull-off at which to pause for basic orientation; now, incredibly, almost all of the battlefield will be accessible. Few people have had the opportunity to visit the ground where George Meade was wounded, or where hand-to-hand fighting raged around Union cannon, or to follow in the footsteps of soldiers North and South at this crucial moment in our nation’s history. All of those sites are available to the public for the first time, and then forever more.”
Step back a second and let those inspiring words sink in, my friend. The recent preservation success at Frayser’s Farm / Glendale defies comparison… There has been nothing like it before in Virginia… Never before in modern times has anyone preserved a major battlefield virtually from scratch.
My friend, I have said many times that if you and I are lucky, at least once while we are on this earth, we I will have the chance to do something so significant that it will add great meaning to our entire lives.
This is one of those chances, something you and I can be proud to tell our grandchildren about… someplace we can take our grandchildren to… something that will live on forever. This is very special.
I realize this letter has been yet another lengthy Lighthizer epistle, but I did not want you to have any questions about any detail of this extraordinary effort. Thank you for reading this far.
Now, I place the future of Glendale in your hands. Look at the map. Tell me that you would like to be a part of this heroic effort that has saved a MAJOR Civil War battlefield from scratch …
…but even more than all of this, decide today what you want your battlefield preservation legacy to be.
I hope that you just chose to join in this historic, important and absolutely necessary effort to save the rest of the Glendale Battlefield. Please let me hear back from you today. Thank you.
With continued gratitude, appreciation and awe,
P.S. As always, there is much more information about this urgent transaction on our website at www.civilwar.org/glendale14. Please check it out now, and please be as generous as you can. Thank you again.