Save Five More Battlefields as 2012 Comes to an End
A Message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
As this very tumultuous year draws to a close, will you help me preserve land at five crucial Civil War battlefields, including the preservation of one entire battlefield in one fell swoop?
As we complete a record year of saving acres of battlefield land, will you join me in this last-minute push to save nearly $7.7 million worth of highly “developable” and endangered hallowed ground – over 1,400 acres – for only $69,932?
And as the final days of 2012 approach, will you please support the Civil War Trust with one more gift – one where I can turn every $1 you donate into $109 worth of hallowed ground?
We are racing to complete most of these transactions this year, to comply with landowner wishes, so it goes without saying that – if you can possibly make one more year-end gift – we can and will certainly put it to excellent use.
I know it’s a busy time of year, so let me get right to the point and give you the crucial information about each of these five amazing transactions – so you can see precisely how much your timely support will make a difference:
|Battlefield||# Acres||$ Value of Land||Trust Share (Projected)|
|1. Wilderness / Chancellorsville, Va.||81||$575,000||$10,000|
|2. Wilson's Creek, Mo.||10||$67,000||$16,750|
|3. South Mountain, Md.||14||$230,000||$10,000|
|4. Bentonville, N.C.||169||$853,000||$25,440|
|5. Cool Spring, Va.||1,150||$5,937,742||$7,742|
THE WILDERNESS/CHANCELLORSVILLE – 81 acres: Working in conjunction with our good friends at the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, we have been asked to contribute just $10,000 to help save land that is not only part of both the Wilderness and Chancellorsville battlefields, but has also has been identified as the “Jackson Amputation Site,” where Stonewall Jackson was treated by surgeons after his wounding during the 1863 battle. The same land was a Union hospital in the 1864 fight!
To me, it is always a bonus when we can save land associated with two or more Civil War battles, not to mention when we can do it for $10,000, and especially when the preserved land protects the existing battlefield from further development and encroachment, as these acres do so perfectly.
WILSON’S CREEK – 10 acres: We are looking to save key acreage at Wilson's Creek that protects one of the battlefield’s main landmarks, the historic John Ray House. The house served as a field hospital during and after the battle. The body of General Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union General killed in combat during the Civil War, was brought to the Ray House and cared for by the doctors there, and the Ray family provided food, shelter, and aid for the wounded during the battle.
The land behind (to the east of) the house provides protection to the Ray House as well as being important to the battle itself. The house is one of only two standing structures that date to the battle, and the National Park Service is committed to preserving it in perpetuity.
SOUTH MOUNTAIN – 14 acres: Union General William B. Franklin described the terrain of the land we are saving and the nature of the fight at South Mountain in great detail in his official after-action report, noting:
“The enemy was strongly posted on both sides of the road, which made a steep ascent through a narrow defile, wooded on both sides, and offering great advantages of cover and position. Their advance was posted near the base of the mountain, in the rear of a stone wall, stretching to the right of the road at a point where the ascent was gradual, and for the most part over open fields.”
With precious few troops, Confederate forces held only for a short time against the withering fire of Franklin’s veterans before they beat a hasty retreat down the mountain. Colonel Thomas T. Munford recalled that, “General Cobb attempted to rally the men, but without the least effect, and it would have been as useless to attempt to rally a flock of frightened sheep.”
BENTONVILLE – 169 acres: At Bentonville we are saving two tracts, one associated with the First Day of the battle, the second one associated with Day Three.
The addition of these 169 acres will push our total saved there to nearly 1,600 acres, an astonishing accomplishment when you consider that for 140 years following the battle, relatively little was preserved there – you and I (with considerable help from state and federal government matching grants) have done pretty much all of the rest!
LATE BREAKING NEWS: As I am preparing to get this letter in the mail, our good friends with the North Carolina Civil War Roundtable and R.E. Lee Society are vowing to step up in a big way. I originally told you that we needed $25,440 to close these two transactions – well, these “Old North State” stalwarts must have passed a pretty big hat around, because they have generated about $9,500 in commitments already, so we are well on the way to checking this one off the list. A hearty huzzah to the Tar Heels!
Finally, COOL SPRING, Virginia – 1,150 acres: I realize this July 17-18, 1864 battle may not “spring” to mind on your “top ten” list of Civil War battles, but it was a significant battle associated with Jubal Early’s withdrawal after his 1864 “Raid on Washington,” and it possesses the added benefit of us being able to save essentially the entire battlefield right now.
Assembling a rare combination of state, federal and private funds, we have the chance to save 1,150 acres at this battle – where Union pursuers clashed with Early’s forces on the Shenandoah River – and basically, check this site off the list as “Preserved Forever.”
Even if you’re not too familiar with the Battle of Cool Spring, remember that Harry Truman said that, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.” By saving this entire battlefield today, you and I are giving future generations a chance to learn about this important chapter of the War in ’64. Plus, it is $5.9 million worth of land that we can save for just $7,742! We’d be crazy not to do this, right?
So there you have it, my friend. Five battlefields . . . 1,424 acres . . . nearly $7.7 million in land value . . . and we can save it all for $69,932, a $109-to-$1 match of your donation dollar.
And while you are making your decision on whether or not you want to participate in this historic year-end effort, I ask you to also please give your urgent input on a matter of great importance to the history of the battlefield preservation movement in America: The future of the Civil War Trust’s capital campaign, called Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy.
I hope that you have followed the campaign’s progress in our Hallowed Ground magazine, or on our website, Civilwar.org/campaign150.
I trust that you support the audacious goals of this historic campaign, which are to raise $40 million to complete the preservation of as many of the key battlefields of the Civil War as possible, and to dramatically expand knowledge of and appreciation for that period in our history through education and technology.
The good news is that we have already raised approximately $28.5 million in gifts and commitments toward our goal, and this has already resulted in key battlefield land being saved at Shiloh, Manassas, Chancellorsville, Perryville and many, many other sites.
The bad news is that we are falling behind schedule. According to our own internal estimates, we should be at $30 million in gifts and pledges by the end of this year to stay on track for success.
Whatever the reasons, be it the amount of private donations that went into political campaigns this past year, or continuing concerns about the overall economy, right now, as I examine the Trust’s balance sheet, it looks like our overall revenue will be less this year than it was last year.
Even though I believe we have a solid business plan for this $40 million campaign, access to the best Civil War scholars and, in my opinion, some unmatched technical and professional expertise on our side, I know we don’t have all the answers. That’s why today, on the enclosed bright yellow sheet, I ask you to give me your best advice on how we can get back on track to our $40 million goal.
You and I can hope that the revenue gap this year is just temporary, and that all will be back to normal in 2013. But “hope” is not a strategy, and it is my job to put plans in place for every contingency. As the CEO of the Civil War Trust, I need the input of everyone like you who is as passionate about this cause and this organization as I am.
There is no escaping the fact that the remaining “inventory” of battlefield land will either be saved forever or lost for good sometime within the next generation, and in some cases, by the end of this campaign!
If our generation – yours and mine – does not save this sacred ground now, in the short time we have left, it will all be gone by the time you and I leave this earth.
That is why the Civil War Trust has committed to pushing our efforts up to a much higher level once again with Campaign 150, which is set to run through 2015, the end of the Sesquicentennial. At the end of this campaign, you and I will have essentially completed at least 25 to 30 of the most significant Civil War battlefields, plus we will save thousands of additional acres of hallowed ground at scores of other sites!
That, my friend, is a legacy. You will be able to visit these places and say, “I saved this!”
I ask you to thoughtfully consider to what extent you might like to get involved financially in this historic effort. Believe me; I am well aware of how generously you support this cause already through your membership dues and your contributions to specific battlefield campaigns. I also appreciate that, like me, you have many other important financial commitments.
All I ask is that, if you possibly can, please consider making your commitment to “Campaign 150” today. Your support is instrumental to helping the Trust achieve its goals by 2015.
Your multi-year commitment is especially important, because it will help us quickly close the $1.5 million gap and get us back on track. This is absolutely crucial, because I anticipate that there could be in excess of $5 million in matching funds available from state and local sources in 2013 – just next year!
The worst possible thing that could happen would be for us to come up short in matching those funds – in this economy, we must match every dollar or we risk losing it forever, PLUS, our friends in Congress and in states like Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland and North Carolina will be less likely to fight for more matching funds in the future.
So you see, much depends on what happens in the next 20 days.
If you could be one of 500 supporters who would commit to an additional $3,000 ($1,000 per year in 2013, 2014 and 2015), or 1,000 members who would commit to an additional capital campaign gift of $1,500 ($500 per year in those years), or even more today, we will be back on schedule and ready to match next year’s millions of dollars in matching grants.
Perhaps you could be one of 2,000 members who commit to $750 ($250 per year for three years), or one of 10,000 generous folks who commit to an extra $50 for each of those three years ($150 total). The potential is huge, and I do need your help to get there.
I thank you for stepping up to this challenge with any level of financial support.
Whew . . . I feel like I have written a book to you today! Thank you for your time in staying with me this far, and I hope you will take just a few more steps with me . . .
. . . a few steps across the rolling hills and quiet fields – the tens of thousands of acres of hallowed ground – that you and I will save together in “Campaign 150.”
Yours, for as long as you'll have me,
P.S. My personal invitation to you: If you care about America’s history . . . if you believe that the sanctity of our nation’s Civil War battlefields must be respected and protected forever . . . and if you would be gratified to make the preservation of hallowed ground part of your personal legacy, I eagerly invite you to join me in making your commitment to Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy.
On behalf of the members of the Board of Trustees (who have given or pledged over $11 million of our campaign total so far), the staff and, if I may humbly evoke their sacred memory, the 621,000 Americans who gave their lives in the Civil War, I thank you for your help, and I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!