Save 327 Acres at the Perryville Battlefield
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, CWPT President
Today, you and I are embarking on our own “2010 Kentucky Campaign” to save a whopping 327 acres at one of the Western Theater’s most important battlefields, multiplying every dollar you can donate by $4.00!
Dear Fellow Preservationist,
I apologize in advance for writing to you so soon after my last letter . . . but I know you – as a veteran of so many preservation efforts – will understand that opportunities like the one I’m about to describe to you do not come along every day.
You know that the Civil War Preservation Trust – on your behalf – has utilized and multiplied extraordinary sums of our members’ donations in recent years to save key parts of battlefields in Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina and many other states.
However, with the exception of a few acres here and there over the past few years, you and I just haven’t had as many opportunities to save crucial hallowed ground in the key border state of Kentucky as I would like.
Today, we can fix that problem.
The immediate opportunity is before us to protect 327 acres of vital unprotected land at the Perryville battlefield – land which could be developed at any time – and it is my opinion that you and I must “pitch into the battle” to save it. (You can see it for yourself on the enclosed map.)
The Civil War Preservation Trust has negotiated the purchase of an easement (the “development rights”) on a massive portion of the northeastern part of the battlefield, where the right wing of Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s army formed up and jumped off on their attack.
Tapping into a special federal grant program that we’ve never utilized in Kentucky, and making the most of a generous donation from the landowners themselves, we have put together a project that will preserve these 327 acres at Perryville . . .
. . . where over 750 acres have already been saved (and 385 of those acres were saved by CWPT), building on our previous success and increasing the size of that protected battlefield by another 44 percent!
But that’s only part of the story. Let me tell you the rest, and best, part . . .
As part of this 327-acre deal, any support you and other CWPT members provide today is matched and will be multiplied by a factor of 4! Every $50 becomes $200 instantly, $100 is worth $400, $250 buys $1,000 worth of land and so on.
In short, for an investment of $169,059 from CWPT, you and I will be able to protect $676,236 worth of Perryville hallowed ground! That works out to just $517 per acre!
Now, it is a mark of how successful CWPT has become (with your help) at saving battlefields over the years that an investment of $169,059 would not overly concern me very much. Under normal circumstances, that would be a significant but still-reachable goal for us, if we all worked together.
But right now, we all know that we are not living under normal circumstances. Even though the stock market has clawed its way back up lately, many of us are still feeling like we’ve lost a lot of our assets, as well as a lot of time.
And even though we here at CWPT continue to budget and plan to the fullest extent that is humanly possible, we are also lining up additional purchases for the rest of this year (I will send you the details once I can publicly announce them) that will, no doubt, put an almost-daily strain on our finances. (There may even be another project or two here at Perryville I’ll soon be able to report on. I don’t want to say anymore for fear of jinxing it!)
So, to sum up, I will need your help today to make this happen. Here for your review are the nuts and bolts of this landmark campaign:
This project (which I am calling our “2010 Kentucky Campaign”) will utilize approximately $338,118 of a federal matching fund called the “Farm and Ranchland Protection Program,” which seeks to save open farm land . . .
. . . plus a donation of value from the landowners of another $169,059.
You can do the math. We’ve already got $507,177 of the $676,236 (75 percent of the money) on the table. All that remains is for CWPT to raise the final $169,059 to make sure we get the federal matching money, and the deal is done.
Now I don’t think for a second that raising $169,059 will be a walk in the park. It will still be a challenge, given how generous you and your fellow CWPT members have already been during the last year, and given that we hope to close the transaction in the next 90 days.
When you consider that we will be saving 327 acres of Kentucky battlefield and viewshed land at about $517 acre, well, I believe you and I are up to that challenge.
In fact, many CWPT members will be able to see this property in just a few weeks, as we tour the Perryville battlefield at our Annual Conference, June 3 – 6. Wouldn’t it be great if we had raised our portion of the match by then, and could announce victory?
Let me quickly remind you why this ground is hallowed:
The Perryville Battlefield: October 8, 1862. Just five weeks after the battle at Richmond, Kentucky, the armies clashed again at Perryville, the culminating, decisive battle of this “Confederate Heartland Campaign.”
The right wing of Bragg’s Confederate Army – specifically, General B.F. Cheatham’s Division – formed on the property we are working to save. There they skirmished with the 33rd Ohio.
At 2:00 p.m., the battle’s opening attacks jumped off from this land, and for a time, it appeared the Confederates might be successful. Due to the rolling nature of the terrain, Cheatham’s men were completely hidden as they advanced to the Federal line just a few hundred yards away on Open Knob.
But this time, it was General Don Carlos Buell’s Federals who successfully counterattacked, convincing Braxton Bragg to fall back all the way to Tennessee, ending the campaign, and keeping Kentucky in the Union.
As you can see from your battle map, the acquisition of this key parcel will make this a nearly preserved battlefield, linking widely separated sections of the preserved park, while saving crucial viewshed that will preserve the wartime landscape and views forever, and opening up wonderful new opportunities for trails and interpretation of the battle.
Park officials have worried for many years that a developer would buy this land and begin building houses on the high ground, forever marring the view of the battlefield from the Union position. This is our opportunity to prevent that . . . for all time.
And one final note on the historical significance of this battle: the 1993 Congressional report on America’s Civil War battlefields that I often mention ranks Perryville a “Priority I:1, Class A” site, making it one of only 11 sites in the nation to be given this high a rating. With this easement purchase, you and I will be one step closer to declaring this hallowed ground protected forever.
And please don’t forget that you can go to our website at www.civilwar.org/perryville, anytime of the day or night, and learn more about this preservation effort and the Battle of Perryville. I know electronic resources on a website don’t actually weigh anything, but trust me when I say that there is a ton of information at civilwar.org! If I was forced to print out all the photos, maps, articles and other material, and mail them to you, the postage costs would be obscene.
There you have it, my friend . . . 327 acres of crucial Western Theater Perryville Battlefield land
. . . at a cost of $676,236, of which more than half-a-million dollars is already committed.
The rest is up to us. I hope you’ll agree that this is an opportunity that is just too important to let pass. Will you help CWPT secure this crucial land with your generous support today? As I mentioned earlier, our portion of this deal works out to an astounding $517 per acre.
Right now, to go to closing on these properties, I must raise our share as soon as possible, at least within the next 90 days.
If possible, can you consider making your commitment of $51.70 (1/10 of an acre), $129.25 (1/4 of an acre), or $258.50 (for a half-acre)? Perhaps you can help cover a full acre at $517, or possibly two acres at $1,034, or even four acres at $2,068. Whatever the amount, please know that you have my deepest thanks for your on-going commitment.
I want you to come along with me on this CWPT “2010 Kentucky Campaign.” You are the reason why we have been able to save nearly 30,000 acres, my friend; there is no adequate way for me to express how much I appreciate everything you have done to save our nation’s heritage.
Please join me in taking advantage of this historic $4-to-$1 match, and help save another 327 acres of the most important Civil War hallowed ground anywhere. Please let me hear back from you as soon as possible, and please accept my deepest thanks for your generosity.
With sword held high,
P.S. Believe me, I realize how much you have done to help preserve our nation’s battlefields already. I am humbled by your dedication to the cause of historic preservation. I do not want to be a bother to you, but I see it as my duty to keep you informed of the projects we’re working on, and to urge you to continue to support our efforts. Please know that I appreciate any amount that you can send today.
P.P.S. In the most recent edition of Hallowed Ground, the membership magazine of the CWPT, Joni House, Program Coordinator of the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site, wrote:
“Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site is one of Kentucky’s most pristine historic treasures. The largest Civil War battle fought within the Commonwealth occurred here on October 8, 1862, resulting in nearly 7,500 casualties. This battle impacted Kentucky so thoroughly that its effect is still felt today. The Perryville Battlefield’s uniquely rural setting has enabled the land to remain unchanged for nearly 150 years, and the descendents of many of those who tended the land in 1862 still work their family farms in 2010. We are always very proud to say that if a Civil War soldier who fought at Perryville were to walk the battlefield today he would say, “I know this place — this is Perryville.”
My friend, in this world where superhighways are connected to mini-malls, where subdivisions are linked to superstores, where lanes of slow-crawling traffic fight each other to reach fast-food drive-thru lanes . . . isn’t it simply wonderful to be able preserve quiet, scenic, historic, open, rolling, pristine, unspoiled battlefield land, so that future generations may go there to learn . . . reflect . . . and remember? Who knows . . . perhaps some of those Civil War soldiers do walk the battlefield today. Don’t we owe it to them to honor that ground? I sure think so..