Protect Priority Petersburg Campaign Battlefields
Please encourage Congress to support S. 718 by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), legislation expanding the boundary of Petersburg National Battlefield to include key battlefield properties critical to telling the story of the siege that decided the Civil War in Virginia. This legislation will enable private groups like the Civil War Trust to work with the National Park Service to include more than 7,000 acres of hallowed ground at 12 battlefields associated with the Petersburg Campaign.
On Wednesday, May 18, the House of Representatives took a critical first step to approving this legislation when it passed HR 4909, the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which included an amendment introduced by Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA) to expand the boundary at Petersburg. The boundary expansion legislation now moves to the Senate.
Among the battlefields that will benefit from this legislation are some of the most important of the Civil War, including Boydton Plank Road, the Crater, Five Forks, Fort Stedman, Globe Tavern, Hatcher’s Run, Peebles’ Farm, Petersburg-Breakthrough, Reams’ Station and White Oak Road. These battlefields were recognized as nationally significant historic resources in a landmark 1993 study on the status of the nation’s Civil War battlefields authorized by Congress and conducted by the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission. This study was updated by the National Park Service in 2010.
Petersburg and Dinwiddie County are located in a corridor of intensive growth, and in some cases, significant battlefield lands have already been lost. Development in the region continues to threaten these hallowed grounds and hinders the visitor experience. This legislation will allow for the preservation and interpretation of these vulnerable battlefields.
The battles of the Petersburg Campaign were fought over a 10-month period and are among the most extensive and complex struggles of the entire war. Hallowed by the blood of more than 70,000 casualties, these battlefields are living monuments – not just to the men in blue and gray who fought there – but to all of America’s veterans who have honorably served in the military. Additionally, they serve as outdoor classrooms, teaching young and old alike about the sacrifices made to forge the nation we are today. Preserved battlefield parks are also visitor attractions, generating valuable tourism revenue and bolstering the economy – especially Petersburg, where a 2012 report by the Petersburg Progress-Index cited more than 175,000 visitors to Petersburg National Battlefield spent nearly $8.7 million in 2010.
Expand the Petersburg National Battlefield boundary to include more than 7,000 acres of critical hallowed ground associated with the Petersburg Campaign before crucial pieces of America’s past are lost forever in this rapidly developing region.