Save the Glendale Battlefield
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, CWPT 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,
Almost exactly one year ago, I sat down to write every CWPT member like you about one of the most important projects this organization has ever tackled:
The purchase of 319 acres of hallowed ground at Frayser’s Farm / Glendale, just outside of Richmond, Virginia, at a total purchase price of $4.1 million.
But as I sit down to write to you today, I have rarely felt a greater sense of urgency and the awesome responsibility I must fulfill to you, to the Civil War Preservation Trust and, in truth, to our entire nation.
This is because I must tell you we are facing one of those classic “good-news, bad-news” situations:
The good news is that you and your fellow members have been so generous that we have been able to raise $3 million of the $4.1 million.
The bad news is that—with the economy as it is right now, and with the downturn in year-end giving I am already bracing for—I am concerned about what will happen if we cannot raise the remaining $1.1 million by June 2009, just eight months away.
That is when we must make our final payments to the landowners, who already generously gave us two years interest-free to give us time to raise funds to save this hallowed ground.
Please remember all we will be accomplishing if we are able to raise the final $1.1 million:
– You and I will save fully 75 percent of the most historically significant hallowed ground at one of America’s most important Civil War battlefields, Glendale (also known as Frayser’s Farm) . . .
– We will have taken advantage of the last chance to save that storied place before it is obliterated forever by rapidly encroaching development . . .
– And we will have overcome the extraordinary challenge of saving this much land all by ourselves—without any matching funds being available this time—saving an irreplaceable piece of our nation’s heroic past that, but for us, would be just another blot of ugly suburban sprawl.
As you look at the map of the property that I have enclosed, you will see highlighted in yellow, the 319 acres you and I are saving at Glendale.
As you can clearly see, this sacred soil is located at the critical heart of this battlefield.
But before I say another word, let me give you two very compelling reasons why it is in our best interest to finish paying off this effort as soon as possible:
First, while I cannot divulge any details just yet, I can tell you it is possible—even likely—that we will have an opportunity to save even more core hallowed ground at Glendale in 2009, pushing us even closer to completely saving this battlefield.
Second, the developers are in a frenzy to buy open land right now. I’ve enclosed for you a copy of yet another letter we recently received from a sneaky developer (posing as a local individual buyer, complete with computer-generated handwriting), offering to purchase part of the Glendale battlefield from us! You know if they are targeting us, they are targeting the other local landowners, too! The pressure is on!
And while we pride ourselves on being able to multiply your generosity through matching grants, Glendale presents its own challenges. Let me explain . . .
You see, the difficulty is that because of the way the official National Park Service boundary lines are drawn, these 319 acres are considered to be “inside the boundary” of the Richmond National Military Park (even land inside a park boundary can be owned by private landowners).
Unfortunately, in this case, that means we cannot apply for any federal matching funds. (The original intent of the federal Civil War Battlefield Protection Program only allows us to use these special funds to protect hallowed ground that is “outside of park boundaries.”)
Also, even though the Commonwealth of Virginia recently set up a $5-million matching grant program to save Civil War battlefield land, this particular transaction happened too far in the past to be eligible for those funds—it cannot be “grandfathered” in!
And of course, in the Richmond suburbs, land-hungry developers are still encroaching from every point on the compass, even given the downturn in the housing market. They are looking to “buy and hold.”
So where does that leave us? It means if the heart of the Glendale battlefield is going to be truly saved for future generations to learn from and enjoy, just as you and I enjoy Vicksburg or Antietam today . . . then you and I are going to have to save it on our own.
Believe me, I fully understand the scope of what I am asking of you.
I understand I am asking you to help once again to save the battlefield at Glendale, even while we continue to pay off our 20-year loan for the Slaughter Pen Farm in Fredericksburg and the many other smaller-but-still-significant projects we tackle each year.
I understand I am asking you to have faith in CWPT and the ability of the Board of Trustees and small-but-dedicated professional staff to budget and plan adequately for these types of mega-transactions.
And I fully understand that, at the end of the day, I am asking you to have faith in me, and my decision to take the calculated risks to lead us in this direction. But I believe you agree with me that, literally, for America’s Civil War battlefields like Glendale, it is now or never, and if we don’t take immediate action—and, frankly, assume some manageable level of risk and debt – we cannot fulfill our mission . . . we cannot save the crucial, highly threatened hallowed ground that needs to be saved.
Much like Slaughter Pen Farm at Fredericksburg, this effort to preserve Glendale has been one the most scrutinized transactions we have ever attempted.
On the positive side of the ledger, we have received $100,000 gifts from our good friends at the Richmond Battlefields Association, as well as a $100,000 grant from the Cabell Foundation in Richmond, which matched $100,000 in new giving from a select group of CWPT major donors. Huzzah!!
We have received significant gifts and pledges from members of our all-volunteer Board of Trustees, former Trustees, family foundations, re-enactors, school classes and donors giving at all levels—I am humbled by every gift.
Thanks to these early supporters, we reached approximately 75 percent of our goal very quickly. But then . . . well, we have all seen what has happened to the economy in the past 12 months.
Every charitable organization I know of is seeing a drop in support over last year. While that is certainly not a surprise, it does have an impact on how effective we can be.
And with less than a year to go to pay off Glendale, I think it is prudent to put the cards on the table for you and remind you this hallowed ground is not truly “saved” until it is completely paid for.
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 Champion Hill, Brandy Station, Fort Donelson, Bentonville, 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 this land at Glendale is arguably some of the most historically significant hallowed ground CWPT has ever saved, and we have just got to get it! This is the ultimate fulfillment of our mission!
But please, don’t simply take my word on how significant this hallowed ground is. Historian Robert E. L. Krick says this about our campaign to save Glendale:
“The recent preservation success at Frayser’s Farm / Glendale defies comparison. There has been nothing like it before in Virginia. Less than two 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.
“Now, by way of five separate transactions, 358 total acres of core battlefield area have been protected forever. These acres do not fill in gaps or simply improve an existing picture. They are the core of the battlefield, including the entire length of the front line of both armies at the penultimate battle of the Seven Days—a battle that produced at least 6,000 casualties and saw some of the war’s most chilling close-quarters fighting.
“Never before in modern times has anyone preserved a major battlefield virtually from scratch. Two 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.”
Step back a second and let those stirring 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.
This is why we have to finish the job.
My friend, I have said many times that, if we are lucky, at least once while we are on this earth, you and I will have the chance to do something so significant it will add great meaning to our entire lives. In the end, if we have professional success and raise good families, most of us will get a nice obituary and a tombstone.
This is one of those chances to do something you and I can be proud tell our grandchildren about . . . heck, someplace we can take our grandchildren to . . . something that will live on forever.
We are approaching the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. I believe battlefield visitors five years from now as well as those 150 years from now will validate our decision to take on this challenge.
And I also believe this: Future generations will forgive us if we try to save this hallowed ground, but fail; they will never forgive us—nor should they—if we fail to try.
I place the future of Glendale in your hands. Look at the map. Tell me you want to be a part of this heroic effort to save a battlefield from scratch . . .
. . . but even more than all of this, decide today what you want your battlefield preservation legacy to be.
I hope you just chose to join in CWPT’s historic, extraordinary and absolutely necessary effort to save the Glendale Battlefield forever. Please let me hear back from you today. Thank you.
With continued gratitude, appreciation and awe,
P.S. To control costs, we have been cutting down lately on the use of “premiums,” or gifts we send out in gratitude for a donation. However, for your gift of $35 or more today, I want to send you a special complimentary CWPT 2009 wall calendar. The 2009 calendar is unique because—for the first time—we are using all-digital images entered into the CWPT Annual Photography contest, and believe me, some of these photos are absolutely stunning!
We all need a calendar in our office or kitchen, and I guarantee this is one you will be happy to have grace your wall or refrigerator . . . filled with full-color photos taken by fellow CWPT supporters. Please reply today with $35 or more to help get us closer to the goal line with the Glendale preservation campaign, and I will get your calendar to you by the end of the year.
Thank you again for your dedication and personal generosity!