Help Save Nearly 300 Acres at Shiloh — Make It Part of Your Preservation Legacy
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
Dear Friend and Fellow Member,
The Battle of Shiloh, April 6 and 7, 1862… nearly 24,000 casualties were inflicted in 36 hours of some of the fiercest fighting of the war… it was the bloodiest battle on American soil up to that point in our history.
Over those two days, men on both sides at places like the Peach Orchard, the Hornet’s Nest and the Bloody Pond sent out desperate calls for help.
Today, I am the one calling out for your help.
Thanks to your support and generosity, the Civil War Trust has been able to save more than 41,000 acres of hallowed Civil War battlefield land all across America.
Even after all that we have already accomplished, today I write to tell you that you and I have the chance to save another 295 acres of battlefield land at Shiloh...
… putting us one giant step closer to completing the preservation of this crucial Civil War battlefield!
My friend, I am 69 years old, and I just signed a three-year extension to my employment contract here at the Civil War Trust.
I don’t mind telling you that it is the thought that we have the very real chance to complete many of the most important battlefields in America, well, that is what keeps me going.
Even better, thanks to the unique funding sources we have negotiated, you and I can save these 295 acres at Shiloh at a tremendous $2.74-to-$1 match.
This 295-acre area of land (contained in several parcels) is one of the last and largest areas of major combat action that remains to be saved on the western side of this incredibly historic battlefield.
This land will be a crucial addition to the national park, ensuring that residential development can never encroach up the battlefield from this direction.
This land saw crucial fighting in the opening hours of the Battle of Shiloh, on April 6, 1862, as Confederates from Louisiana, attempting to move around the Union right flank, slammed into troops of the 6th Iowa, 46th Ohio and 40th Illinois regiments, part of a division under the command of a then-relatively-unknown brigadier general named William T. Sherman.
One of those Louisianans was Private Samuel B. Todd, half-brother of Mary Todd Lincoln. Private Todd would be mortally wounded on April 7.
The purchase price to save this wonderful, absolutely crucial piece of our country's history? $488,000.
Fortunately, government and state grants, along with other donations totaling $309,595, are available to put into the transaction, leaving you and me — the members of the Civil War Trust — to raise the final $178,405.
Again, that turns every $1 you donate for this effort today into $2.74 — a 274 percent return on your preservation dollar! If you can find ANY investment that will give you an instantaneous 274 percent return, well, I'm no financial advisor, but I'd suggest you take it!
As you can see on the official Civil War Trust battle map, these 295 acres add significantly to the battlefield's western edge, saving privately owned and wholly unprotected ground that saw combat during both days of the battle, as well as adding absolutely crucial buffer land to protect Shiloh against future development.
Can you imagine if a private developer were to swoop in, buy this land, and begin subdividing it for new houses, with one of those grotesquely ironic development names like "Shiloh View Estates," with the streets named after the generals who fought there?
And speaking of generals, in his official report on the battle, William T. Sherman described the battle as he saw it personally on this part of the battlefield:
“Shortly after 7 a.m., with my entire staff, I rode along a portion of our front, when in the open field before Appler’s regiments the enemy’s pickets opened a brisk fire on my party, killing my orderly… About 8 a.m., I saw the glistening bayonets of heavy masses of infantry to our left front in the woods… and became satisfied for the first time that the enemy designed a determined attack on our whole camp.”
Captain John Williams of the Sixth Iowa Infantry reported, “The battle at this time was raging fiercely in the center and extending gradually to the right. The line was slowly yielding to a vastly superior force, and it now became evident that we must change our position or be entirely cut off from the rest of the army.” Even after a new line was formed, “the regiment withstood a shower of leaden hail and bullets which now was pouring in upon it with deadly effect.”
Of course, as we all know, after that first day at Shiloh, the Union army was driven back to its beachhead at Pittsburg Landing where, at dusk, a concerned Union officer asked Maj. General U.S Grant if preparations should be made for a retreat.
“Retreat?” replied Grant. “No! I propose to attack at daylight and whip them.” And with the Confederate Army (now under command of General P.G.T. Beauregard, following the death of General Albert Sidney Johnston) scattered and unorganized, that is just what Grant did.
By mid-afternoon of the second day of fighting, the left flank of the Confederate line had fallen back fighting across the land we are saving to establish a last line of defense astride to the Hamburg-Purdy Road. These troops, a jumbled mass under the command of Major General Braxton Bragg, contested the advance of Major General Lew Wallace’s division over the bodies of the dead and wounded from the day before, until forced to retreat.
Today, this land is the most significant unprotected point of contact on the western edge of the Shiloh Battlefield. Wouldn't you like to make saving this supremely historic land part of your personal preservation legacy?
I sure hope so. But even as important as your help is to saving nearly 300 acres of key battlefield land at a $2.74-to-$1 match today, I ask you to please sign this petition to Congress to show your support for the Federal program which makes millions of dollars available in matching funds each year.
We all know that these are tough times, and budgets are tight. That's why Congress needs to see that thousands of Americans support their decision to keep making matching funds available to save America's Civil War endangered battlefields, especially now that the Sesquicentennial is over.
I don't just ask you and our other members for help in saving Civil War battlefields; I also go directly to decision makers in the U.S. Congress — as well as those in state and local governments — and make the case that saving our history is important, and it is a great investment in communities lucky enough to have a battlefield, bringing jobs and tourism dollars.
And Heaven forbid that someone might actually go to a battlefield and learn something about the greatest nation on earth, and how we got to be that way, right?
So today, while you are thinking about it, will you please help ensure that we have access to federal battlefield matching funds next year by signing the online petition to Congress?
Congress is debating the next budget right now, so I need to show them that you and thousands of other Americans support battlefield preservation as soon as possible. Thank you.
And while you are doing that, I hope that you will also consider a special gift to help me raise the $178,405 we need in about 90 days to complete the preservation of these crucial 295 acres at Shiloh.
And because you have so generously supported our battlefield preservation mission, I am honored to offer you a special gift today. For your gift of $50 or more to this effort, I will send you a Civil War Trust-commissioned documentary DVD that has been produced by Wide Awake Films, presenting our animated maps of five major battles of the Civil War (including Shiloh) as well as the 1864 Overland Campaign. Plus, as a special bonus, I have included the 8-minute video that I recently showed at the Civil War Trust’s annual conference in Richmond, Virginia, highlighting your success in helping to achieve the Trust’s Capital Campaign major preservation goal of saving 10,000 acres during the Sesquicentennial.
These films have never before been assembled onto one DVD. I wish I could afford to send this special gift to every Civil War Trust member, but I know I need to be a good steward of the funds entrusted to the Civil War Trust. Still, I know you will enjoy it, and I do look forward to sending it to you for your gift on $50 or more.
If you decide you’d like to make the preservation of one of the last and largest possible areas of hallowed ground on the western side of the Shiloh battlefield part of your personal preservation legacy, donate securely online with your credit card via the website (many folks do this to help earn airline miles or bonus points).
Please also remember to sign your petition to Congress — it could potentially help to secure millions of dollars in additional funding for battlefield preservation!
I thank you very much for your tremendous on-going support of this important cause, and I look forward to declaring victory at Shiloh with you!
Very sincerely yours,
P.S. Isn’t it exciting to look at a map like this one of Shiloh and see just how remarkably close we are getting to preserving every important acre of hallowed ground at that battlefield? I sure think so, and hope you do, too! As always, I also urge you to browse online to get much more information on this historic Shiloh preservation campaign. Please let me hear back from you right away.