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Civil War Trust

Save 11 Additional Acres at Glendale Battlefield

A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President

December 28, 2009

Dear Friend and Fellow Battlefield Defender,

Jim LIghthizerBefore I tell you about our final push to match the last of the grant money from the Virginia Civil War Sites Preservation $1-for-$2 Fund, please allow me to say just two words to you: Thank you!

As you can see from our 2009 Accomplishments Report (PDF), this past year has – against all odds – been one of the most remarkable years this organization has ever had.

And as I write this year-end wrap up to you in the closing hours of 2009 (anticipating that you will probably be reading it in the opening hours of 2010), I hope you will take a few moments to reflect on all you and I have accomplished over the past 12 months.

Frankly, given the state of the economy, the numbers are staggering:

2,773 acres of hallowed ground saved – one of our best years ever!

- Those acres had a fair-market value of more than $38 million, but through our tireless efforts to secure matching grants from federal state and local sources, CWPT was able to save that $38 million worth of land for just $2.77 million of our members’ money!

- That’s a leverage factor of nearly $14-to-$1 – another record!

- We held our most successful annual conference ever, with nearly 500 members coming together in Gettysburg in June, despite the down economic times.

- We conducted our most successful Teacher Institute ever in Fredericksburg in July, giving nearly 150 educators the tools they need to spark the next generation’s passion for battlefields, history and preservation.

- We launched a complete redesign of our website. It is now world-class, and has even become the recipient of a generous financial grant from Google to help us grow our presence on the Internet even more. (Be sure to bookmark www.civilwar.org).

- CWPT’s magazine Hallowed Ground was recently recognized with a national Apex Grand Award for excellence.

- We have faced – and overcome – some of our greatest challenges ever during the past 12 months, but none was bigger than raising more than $2 million this year (again, in a terrible environment for charitable giving) to match the funds put up by the Commonwealth of Virginia to save absolutely crucial land at Malvern Hill, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness and Appomattox Station. Thank you for your help in all of these enormously important campaigns.

- Speaking of matching funds, driven by our past success, the U.S. Congress appropriated $9 million to the federal Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program for 2010, the largest amount ever for a single year!

- Plus, we continue to fiercely battle WalMart, and still have many months left to fight . . . that struggle is definitely not over (and there are rumblings that the casino issue in Gettysburg may once again rear its ugly head soon. Stay tuned!)

So for all of this and much more, please accept my deepest and most profound thanks for your dedication to the cause of battlefield preservation in 2009. None of this – none of it! – could have happened without your generosity and commitment. I can’t thank you enough.

But before we close the books on this remarkable year, I promised to tell you about our final push to match the last few dollars remaining in that Virginia matching grant fund.

As always, please look at the CWPT map of the Battle of Glendale, the “Seven Day’s Campaign” conflict that took place the day before the Battle of Malvern Hill. CWPT has already acquired 566 acres there, but we are about to add another 11 key acres!

These important acres, situated on both sides of the modern Darbytown Road, continue to fill in the puzzle pieces of the battlefield that CWPT has been assembling over the years.

Let me remind you what historian Robert E. L. Krick has said about our efforts at this crucial battlefield:

“The recent preservation success at Frayser’s Farm / Glendale defies comparison. There has been nothing like it before in Virginia. Less than four years ago the battlefield occupied a well-deserved spot on the CWPT’s list of the nation’s most imperiled Civil War sites. Only 100 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. Four years ago, one could not even find a safe roadside pull-off at which to pause for basic orientation; now, incredibly and suddenly, 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 Kemper’s and Pickett’s Virginians in their headlong charge against the Union gunline. All of those sites will be available to the public for the first time, and then forever more.”

Please also recall that Confederate General Edward Porter Alexander later wrote in his memoirs about the importance of the Glendale (also known as “Frayser’s Farm”) battle:

“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.”

The Battle of Glendale produced at least 6,000 casualties and saw some of the war’s most chilling close-quarters fighting. It determined that the Battle of Malvern Hill would be fought the next day when and where it was. And with these 11 additional acres, we are “stealing a march” on the housing subdivision developers who are temporarily winded by the poor economy.

How much did it cost CWPT to help bring this great victory about? Just $107,821 from CWPT will earn us a match of $53,910 from the Virginia matching fund, giving us enough to pay the $161,731 purchase price.

Think about that for a moment. Hallowed ground that, but for the poor economy, was likely to be developed into yet another massive, sprawling “community” has now been saved forever by CWPT paying $107,821.

You may have noticed that I have been referring to this historic transaction in the past tense. That’s because – as we needed to get this deal done before the end of the year, before the Virginia matching money expired – CWPT has already gone to closing on the deal, and the $107,821 went out of the CWPT bank account a few days ago.

But so has another $1.7 million we successfully raised (thanks to you and some very generous, heroic, last-minute benefactors) for the several key Virginia properties we have worked so hard to save this year at Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Malvern Hill and others . . .

. . . so has another $1.1 million that we have had to pay out of our reserves to cover the federal matching grants that we are bridging, money that will be reimbursed sometime in 2010 . . .

. . . and so has nearly $1 million MORE in state matching grants, for which CWPT will (God willing!) be reimbursed in January 2010.

Throw in a couple of “smaller” year-end transactions like this one at Glendale, and CWPT literally has had nearly $4 million go out the door in the past 30 days!

This is why I have been hoarding our pennies and beating the bushes for every donation I could find all year long . . . I could see this massive year-end cash crunch coming down the pike for a long time. But until those government matching-grant reimbursement checks arrive, our already tight budget is stretched to the limit.

I am breaking a long-established rule of fundraising by telling that we have already paid the $107,821 for the 11 acres at Glendale out of our stripped-down cash reserves (it’s just like dipping into your savings account for a major household purchase), but I want to be totally transparent with you.

Essentially I went out on a limb and committed CWPT to this $107,821 transaction under the assumption . . . hope . . . expectation . . . belief . . . Christmas “wish” . . . that you and your fellow members would be able to donate enough at a later date – now – to cover that expenditure.

So I ask you: Did I do the right thing? Will you justify my decision and help replace the $107,821 we had to pull from our limited reserves?

Every $1 you are able to give today turns into $1.50 to replace key, crucial and absolutely necessary funds we had to spend to make sure this deal was consummated.

In this economy, that’s a pretty good return on your investment. In fact, CWPT may even be THE BEST “return on investment” that you could make — Every dollar you give to CWPT is nearly always multiplied many times over to save American heritage battlefield land, PLUS you get a tax deduction, PLUS you are saving land that will enhance America forever!

Depending on when you are reading this letter, can I ask you to please consider making either one last gift in 2009, or perhaps your very first gift of 2010?

Remember also that our website is open 24 hours per day, seven days per week, ready to educate, inspire and serve you. You can make a secure gift online at anytime of the day or night. (U.S. News and World Report recently called the CWPT website “an excellent and engrossing multimedia encyclopedia of the Civil War.”)

Whatever amount you decide you can give, I hope you will do it after you have examined the 2009 Accomplishments Report (PDF) and see exactly how your generosity is being put to great use.

I know that future generations of Americans will cheer us for saving this land today. Your grandchildren will have the chance to appreciate places like Glendale, and they will be thankful for our foresight and action.

Teachers will bring their students to these outdoor classrooms and, thanks to you, they will not have to look past a juggernaut of houses or strip malls to understand what was done there. The ground will teach them.

And if nothing else . . . you and I have saved crucial open spaces that future generations will escape to, to get away from traffic, sprawl and suburbia.

Thank you, bless you for your help, and please accept my best wishes for you and your family.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year,

Jim Lighthizer
President

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