Save Second Manassas
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
Dear Trusted Friend,
I don't know if you prefer to call it Second Bull Run or Second Manassas...
...but I call a chance to save 44 absolutely crucial acres with an $11.25-to-$1 match an opportunity that is too good to pass up!
Right off the bat, I ask you to look at the official Civil War Trust map here on our website, so you can see at a glance that we have an opportunity to save one of the largest and most important parts at the very heart of this major battlefield.
The fighting was so bloody on this famed ground -- known as the "Deep Cut" -- that some men believed they were in the "vortex of hell."
It was one of the biggest battles of the war to date, and scores of letters and diaries attest to the severity of the fighting, like this one from a soldier in the 15th Alabama: "What a slaughter! What a slaughter of men that was."
Another from the 24th New York recalled, "We were transformed... from a lot of good-natured boys to the most bloodthirsty of demoniacs."
During the height of the battle, Confederate General James Longstreet looked out across the land we are working to save: "I could plainly see the Federals as they rushed in heavy masses against the obstinate ranks of the Confederate left. It was a grand display of an organized attack."
But due in part to massed artillery that Longstreet would bring to bear on this part of the field, that "grand display" soon degenerated into a horrifying death trap.
Union soldiers pinned against the slopes of the unfinished railroad could neither advance nor retreat, and badly needed reinforcements could not reach them. An officer of the 18th Massachusetts said that Confederate artillery shells so frequently ripped the earth that "the ground looked like a mill pond in a shower."
Today, you and I have a chance to save 44 acres -- one of the largest remaining expanses of land available anywhere at Manassas -- of supremely hallowed ground!
I hope you will agree that, due to its national importance, especially with the Sesquicentennial commemoration of the War already underway, if any battlefield land anywhere is worth preserving, Manassas has to be near the top of the list.
Much like the 49 acres of hallowed ground you and I saved at the Wilderness battlefield recently, this land is one of the largest unprotected parts of the Second Manassas battlefield that remains to be preserved!
That's why, when the opportunity arose to save 44 acres of absolutely essential and still-pristine land at the center of this battlefield, specifically associated with the famed "unfinished railroad," we decided that we had to save it.
First, let me tell you about this land. As I mentioned, this 44-acre property was at the absolute bull's eye of the fighting all during the multi-day Second Battle of Bull Run, as spirited attacks, stubborn retreats and grim counterattacks see-sawed across this hallowed ground.
(There is also a second map showing the earlier fight on August 28, 1862, at Brawner's Farm. Clearly, saving this land would help preserve that part of the battle as well.)
But you should also know that this property is another one of those "in-holdings" which we seem to be saving more of these days. You'll recall that an in-holding is a privately owned tract of land within the boundary of a National Park.
In this case, this land has for many years been owned by a locally-operated modern cemetery. And for years, my concern has been that the cemetery would seek to expand onto this now heavily-wooded-but-still-pristine land (which was a clear, open field at the time of the battle).
They could have also sold off all or part of these 44 acres to a developer who could come in, and build anything that local zoning would permit, such as homes, storage units, etc.
As you can see on your map, this is absolutely core battlefield land that the Park Service was never able to acquire before.
But by working collaboratively with the cemetery company, we have been able to hammer out a deal where, for an investment of $100,000 from the Civil War Trust, we can save this parcel of land worth approximately $1,125,000!
That means every $1 you give for this effort today will by multiplied into $11.25!
I know I have said this so many times that you are probably sick of hearing it, but where else in the world today are you going to get an immediate 1,125% return on your "investment"?
Believe me, I know that in this economy, when many people still can't give as much as they would like, $100,000 is still a lot of money.
But when you look at the map of the entire Manassas National Park, and when you see that this is one of the last and largest single parcels at that battlefield that can be saved...
...well, this fits in exactly with the theme of the Sesquicentennial campaign we recently announced.
Called Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy, the Board of Trustees and I recently announced a major effort to save an additional 20,000 of hallowed ground over the course of the Sesquicentennial.
And a huge focus for our land preservation work over the next five years will be to complete as many of the key Civil War battlefields as possible.
Saving these 44 priceless acres at Second Manassas clearly fits the bill. We are:
- saving land that is already contiguous to preserved national park land, creating what I call a "critical mass" of meaningful preserved land;
- saving land that adds significantly to the understanding of the battle, and
- helps to complete -- as nearly as possible -- a major Civil War battlefield, so that future generations can learn what happened there.
Bottom line: We've got to raise our $100,000 immediately to ensure we can take advantage of this historic opportunity which, by the way, includes a tremendous donation of land value from the cemetery company.
It is not often -- if ever -- that even you and I, who care so much about saving America's Civil War battlefields, get the opportunity to save something this important.
So please, if you possibly can, will you help me raise the needed $100,000 so that I can save these crucial 44 acres at Manassas, with your own generous urgent contribution today?
To thank you for your support, if you can send a gift of $50 or more, it will be my honor to send you a great new book as a small token of my appreciation.
This 260-page, richly illustrated book is entitled The Civil War 150: An Essential To-Do List for the 150th Anniversary. It is great reference for ideas of things that every Civil War buff can do during the Sesquicentennial.
It will make a great addition to your Civil War library, or it would make an even better gift for a student in your life who is just becoming as passionate about history as you are.
Plus, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you helped save 44 key acres of the Manassas battlefield to get it!
I want you to be a part of this historic effort, with a gift of any amount. You are the reason why the Civil War Trust has been able to save over 30,000 acres, my friend.
And you are the reason why I believe we will be able to save an additional 20,000 acres over the next five years. I appreciate everything you have done for our nation's battlefields.
Please join me in taking advantage of this tremendous $11.25-to-$1 match, and help save a critical 44 acres of the most important Civil War ground at any battlefield anywhere.
Please let me hear back from you as soon as possible, and please accept my deepest personal thanks for your generosity.
Awaiting your urgent reply,
P.S. As one Union survivor said of the artillery barrage that pounded this part of the battlefield, "The slope was swept by a hurricane of death, and each minute seemed twenty hours long." Until I hear back from you, each minute will seem like 20 hours to me, too.
P.P.S. If you would like to learn more about our Sesquicentennial Campaign to save an additional 20,000 over the next five years, we have a special web page set up. Please visit www.civilwar.org/campaign150. Thank you very much.