Save 429 Acres at Port Republic
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
Port Republic, in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia… 152 years ago Next month…
the site of the final, decisive battle of “Stonewall” Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign.
Today, will you help save 429 acres of the absolutely essential unprotected core of this battlefield,
while multiplying your generosity by $5-to-$1?
With your help and generous support, I have been working for more than 14 years to save America’s threatened Civil War battlefields.
In all of that time, I have not seen more than a handful of opportunities like the one I am about to tell you about today.
The battlefield: Port Republic, the final, furious, and decisive clash of Stonewall Jackson’s acclaimed 1862 Valley Campaign in Virginia.
Working closely with our friends at the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF), you and I have the chance to help preserve a massive 429-acre swath of this battlefield, saving nearly one-fifth or 20 percent of the entire “core battlefield area” as defined by the National Park Service. This more than doubles the amount of preserved and protected hallowed ground at this important site.
What’s more, this crucial land is just a few yards from “The Coaling,” the central defining high ground of this battlefield, which the Trust saved many years ago.
Even better, I can turn every $1 you give today into $5.00 worth of preserved Port Republic hallowed ground.
This pristine farmland – with more than a mile of frontage along the South Fork of the famed Shenandoah River – still looks very much as it did when Stonewall Jackson looked upon it from under the brim of his battered forage cap on the day of the battle, nearly 152 years ago.
Our friends at the SVBF were able to negotiate a historic preservation easement, on this crucial hallowed ground. What this means is that the landowner gets to keep possession of and continue to live on their land, but that they sell off and completely relinquish the “development rights” to the property forever.
To you and me this means that the sacred hallowed ground will be preserved forever just as it is now. It’s like locking the landscape into a time capsule.
It will always and forever be open space where you and I and future generations can go to learn about the importance of the Battle of Port Republic, reflect on the valor and sacrifices made there, and remember the heroes who fought there – without modern development ruining it.
And believe me, with the development that has been pushing toward the edges of this battlefield for several years, now is the time to save this land.
Because you are such a valued investor in this business of saving hallowed ground, I want to make sure you have all the facts of this transaction. Then, I hope you will agree that this is an opportunity that is too good to pass up.
The easement purchase price on these 429 historic acres is $1,350,000. That’s a big number, I know, but just to compare, if we had to buy this land outright ourselves, the price (based on a recent appraisal) could be as much as $2.8 million! As you can see, protecting hallowed ground by purchasing the development rights always stretches our funds even further.
Here's the breakdown:
|Federal Farm and Ranchland Grant||($ 500,000)|
|Virginia Civil War Sites Grant||($ 230,000)|
|Federal Transportation Enhancement Grant||($ 250,000)|
|Civil War Trust||($ 370,000)|
= 429 saved acres at Port Republic
But the news gets even better, my friend. You can see that the Civil War Trust is putting in $370,000 to secure all of those federal and state matching grants (nearly $1 million of matching money). However, due to the generosity of some wonderful Civil War Trust members – who have already given a combined $100,000 for this effort – the Trust’s portion is now reduced to just $270,000.
Feel free to double-check my math, but when I divide $1.35 million by $270,000, I get the number “5,” meaning that I can now turn every $1 you give today for this effort in to $5.00 worth of preserved-forever Port Republic hallowed ground.
As knowledgeable as you are about The War, I will assume you already have a good grasp of what happened at Port Republic on June 9, 1862. But if you’re like me, a little review never hurts!
After the Battle of Cross Keys the day before, Stonewall Jackson sought to concentrate his forces at Port Republic, so that he could assault Union forces east of the river.
When the main Confederate battle line advanced about 5 a.m., it came under heavy fire from Union artillery and was soon pinned down. Confederate batteries were rolled forward onto the plain but were outgunned. Seeing the strength of the Union position at the Coaling, Jackson sent the famed Louisiana Tigers into the woods to support a flanking column that was attempting to advance through the thick underbrush.
Confederate brigades renewed their assaults on the Union right and center, taking heavy casualties. Attacks and counterattacks swirled over the wide plain east of the river, as well as the Coaling – the key to the entire battlefield.
In his book Conquering the Valley, historian Robert K. Krick reports that the regimental historian for the 7th Ohio described how “five color bearers [were] shot down, while advancing as many rods.”
Finding resistance fiercer than anticipated, Jackson ordered reinforcements into the fight, stopping the Union counterattack. Hand-to-hand fighting raged over the Coaling. Eventually, the Confederates captured five guns and turned them against the rest of the Union line. With the loss of the high ground at the Coaling, the Union position along Lewiston Lane became untenable, and the boys in blue were forced to withdraw. In a little more than five hours of fighting, a thousand Union soldiers lay dead, wounded or were captured, and the Confederates suffered more than 800 casualties.
The Confederate victory at Port Republic marked the end of Jackson's 1862 Valley Campaign, and the strategic consequences were immense. “By the bold use of his small force, Jackson diverted Union troops and resources away from Richmond, saving that city from almost certain capture and the nation it represented from almost certain ruin,” says historian Donald Pfanz. Strategically the 1862 Valley Campaign ranks as one of the great masterpieces in military history.
Even as important as it is to preserve this ground, to prevent its future destruction and to save its historical integrity forever, I must admit something to you: I also have a very personal reason for wanting to save it.
You may recall, from reading our Hallowed Ground magazine or seeing it on our website, last year on July 8, our former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Henry Simpson, passed away very suddenly.
Henry was a close personal friend as well as a valued colleague. Not only had he served as a volunteer Trustee to this organization for 15 years, he was – for many of those years – Chairman of the Battlefield Preservation Committee of the Board. This is the group of men and women who ultimately decide which opportunities we will pursue each year, and which ones, unfortunately, we have to walk away from.
So you see, Henry played an enormous role in every acre of hallowed ground you and I have saved over the last 15 years or so.
And because the very first piece of hallowed ground he helped to save many years ago was “The Coaling,” Port Republic was his favorite battlefield.
So working with his family, the current members of the Board and I have – at our own expense – decided to place a small boulder with an inlaid bronze plaque honoring Henry Simpson, a champion to battlefield preservation, at the Port Republic battlefield.
We will be dedicating this recognition in a ceremony at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, the one-year anniversary of his passing, and I’d like to invite you to attend. I realize that it might be a long way for you to come on a Tuesday, but I just wanted you to know that you are welcome. (Please use this online RSVP to let me know if you are attending, as that will help me tremendously in our logistical planning for this event.)
I believe this is a very important thing to do, my friend, because these battlefields that you and I are saving stand not only as monuments to the people who fought on them 150 years ago…
… they also stand as monuments to you, the person who fights to protect them today.
When I step back from the day-to-day crush of events, meetings, phone calls, and e-mails, I am in awe when I think about all you and I have accomplished. And it energizes me when I think about how future generations will be able to go to a place like Port Republic and learn from it – even love it – because of the work we are doing today.
But we’re not there yet; the job at hand today is to raise the final $270,000 we need to save this land. Ideally, it would be best to raise that amount by the July 8th dedication ceremony. I realize that is a lot of money to raise in a short time, but if we work together, I know we can do it. And as Old Stonewall said, “Never take counsel of your fears.”
In fact, I have figured out a way we can save this land if just 5,000 Civil War Trust members step forward to help today. That’s why I am issuing a “5,000-Patriot Challenge” and
Below, I have outlined a “chart of gifts” showing how 5,000 patriots (which is only about 10% of the total membership of the Civil War Trust), can generate the $270,000 we need to preserve this land. Take a look, and see where you visualize yourself fitting into this plan:
Goal: $270,000 to Save 492 Acres at Port Republic
|# of Gifts Needed||Gift Amount||Total|
$5-to-$1 Match: Remember, EVERY $1 donated helps save $5 worth
of hallowed ground at Port Republic.
To thank you for your gift of $50 or more today, it will be my honor to send you a special “Battlefields of the Civil War” map, originally produced in 1961 by the National Geographic Society for the centennial of the War. This full color, double-sided map measures a full 28”x22” and shows every battle, campaign and major event of the Civil War. It is a great resource that I know you will refer to time and time again.
Imagining what Old Stonewall himself might think of this opportunity, I think he might just fall back on those famous maxims he began keeping back in his West Point days:
“Frugality – make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e., waste nothing.” Well, by donating to this effort to save 429 key acres at Port Republic, you are certainly “doing good” to future generations of Americans who will have the benefit of seeing this historic place preserved.
“Resolution – Resolve to perform what you ought: perform without fail what you resolve.” You know that saving this hallowed ground, on which 1,800 men fell as casualties, is something we “ought” to do, and I’m absolutely “resolved” to do it!
With 80 percent of the funding for this hallowed ground already lined up, please be as generous as you can today to help me raise the Civil War Trust’s final share of $270,000.
Please join me in this crucial effort today. Thank you, and as Jackson might have said, “Let God grant our arms with victory at Port Republic.”
Still fighting to save our history,
P.S. You can always visit our website at www.civilwar.org/portrepublic14 for even more information on this historic effort. The website never sleeps! Thank you again, and please let me know if you will be one of the 5,000 patriots I am counting on to step forward by July 8.