--STATE GRANTS WILL HELP PROTECT NEARLY 1,339 ACRES ON 4 BATTLEFIELDS--
—Battlefield tracts protected are in the counties of Charles City, Henrico, Shenandoah, and Spotsylvania—
[See the end of this release for a list of the battles, their significance, and the specific tracts of acreage preserved.]
RICHMOND – Nearly 1,339 acres associated with Civil War battles will be protected through grants from this year’s Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund awarded by the Department of Historic Resources (DHR) to three organizations that aim to preserve the lands.
The grant recipients are the Capital Region Land Conservancy, the Civil War Trust, and the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. The acreage targeted for preservation is associated with the battles of Chancellorsville, Fisher’s Hill, Malvern Hill, and the Wilderness.
The three organizations will match state funding awards to purchase the battlefield acreage. The state grants require that an easement on the lands acquired be donated to DHR’s Virginia Board of Historic Resources for perpetual preservation and stewardship in partnership with the respective organizations.
The Capital Region Land Conservancy will receive $400,000 toward preservation of 923 acres situated mostly in eastern Henrico County, as well as 27 acres in western Charles City County, associated with the Battle of Malvern Hill, fought on July 1, 1862. It was the last of the Seven Days Battles of the Union army’s Peninsula Campaign and ended in a defeat for the Confederates, although it prompted Union Gen. George B. McClellan to terminate the campaign.
The Civil War Trust will receive $200,000 toward preserving more than 353 acres in Spotsylvania County that encompass core and study areas affiliated with two battles, Chancellorsville and the Wilderness.
Military historians consider the Battle Chancellorsville, fought April 30 to May 6, 1863, to be Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s greatest victory. It is also where Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was mortally wounded by friendly fire.
The Battle of the Wilderness, waged May 5-7, 1864, was the first battle fought between Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Gen. Lee, and opened Grant's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign against Lee and his Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. It essentially ended in a bloody stalemate for the two sides.
DHR also will award $192,000 to the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation to assist in the purchase of a little more than 62 acres constituting the core and study areas of the Fisher’s Hill battlefield in Shenandoah County. Waged between September 21 and 22, 1864, the Battle of Fisher’s Hill resulted in a Union victory that effectively drove Confederate forces out of the Shenandoah Valley, giving control of the region to the Union.
The three awards are the result of a rigorous evaluation process conducted by DHR, which received 16 applications from seven organizations seeking funds to save Virginia battlefield lands. In all, the funds requested totaled more than $2.9 million, far more than the $792,000 DHR had available to award and distribute from this year’s battlefield preservation fund.
“The award of these funds demonstrates the Commonwealth’s continued commitment to the preservation of significant historic battlefield properties as well as the perpetual protection of open space for the benefit of future generations of residents and visitors,” explained Julie Langan, Director of DHR.
In 2010, in advance of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War (2011--2015), the General Assembly established a permanent Civil War Historic Sites Preservation Fund to assist in the preservation of battlefield lands increasingly prone to development. The fund was expanded—and renamed—by the General Assembly in 2013 to cover battlefields also associated with the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
Civil War heritage tourism plays a large role in Virginia’s economy. A 2015 economic impact study requested by the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission showed that the 150th anniversary of the Civil War brought more than 3.7 million people and $290 million to Virginia, where roughly a third of all war’s major battles were fought.
In addition to supporting heritage tourism, the preservation of battlefield lands also serves many conservation and recreational goals. Preserved battlefield acreage protects wetlands, timberlands, wildlife habitats, and farm lands still in use. Many of the open-space sites offer places for recreation near to growing urban areas.
In awarding the grants, DHR based its evaluations in part on each battlefield's significance as determined by the Congressionally-commissioned “Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields” originally issued in 1993 and subsequently updated. Other factors considered by the department included the proximity of each parcel to other protected lands; the threat of loss due to encroaching development, and the potential for education, recreation, research, or heritage tourism, among other factors.
Civil War Battlefield Grant Awards 2016
Summaries of Battles
Malvern Hill Battlefield, Henrico County
Preserved Property: Malvern Hill Farm (923 acres)
Sponsor: Capital Region Land Conservancy
The Battle of Malvern Hill, fought July 1, 1862, was the sixth and last battle of the Seven Days Battles of the Union’s Peninsula Campaign. During the battle Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac successfully repelled a series of attacks by Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia against a nearly impregnable Union position atop Malvern Hill. The Confederate’s objective was to dislodge the Union army and cut it off from Harrison's Landing on the James River. Due to confusing orders and a lack of coordination, Lee’s forces mounted disjointed assaults throughout the afternoon. The Union artillery—posted in an extraordinarily strong position atop Malvern Hill—shredded the advancing Confederates. When night fell, Lee’s forces had suffered around 5,300 casualties, while McClellan lost about 3,200 men. Despite his victory, Gen. McClellan withdrew to entrench at Harrison’s Landing, ending the Peninsula Campaign. The Malvern Hill Farm property, which covers core and study areas of the battlefield, contains some of the best-preserved Civil War battlefield lands in central or southern Virginia, much of it similar to its appearance in 1862.
Chancellorsville Battlefield and Wilderness Battlefield, Spotsylvania County
Preserved Property: Chancellorsville Memorial Garden Tract at the Wilderness and Chancellorsville Battlefields (353.56 acres)
Sponsor: Civil War Trust
The Battle of Chancellorsville was fought near the village of Spotsylvania Courthouse from April 30 to May 6, 1863. The battle, pitting Union Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's forces against Gen. Robert E. Lee's, "is arguably the most important Civil War battlefield in Virginia," according to historian John S. Salmon. "It is the site of Lee's greatest victory and of [Gen. "Stonewall"] Jackson's mortal wounding, and it had greater consequences for the Confederacy than any other battle fought on Virginia soil," writes Salmon in The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide. The battle is notable for Lee's counter-intuitive decision to divide his smaller army (of roughly 60,000) prior to attacking Hooker's larger force (of more than 133,000). Lee's daring plan and Hooker's timid response led to a Confederate victory. During the battle in May, troops under Gen. Jackson “Stonewall” Jackson advanced across the Memorial Garden Tract during Jackson’s historic “flank attack,” which changed the course of the battle. Jackson’s movement is still studied today by professional military leaders all around the world.
The Battle of the Wilderness was the opening contest during the 1864 Overland Campaign of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, a two-month pursuit of Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, during which Grant attempted to cut Lee off from Richmond. The Battle of the Wilderness took place May 5-7, 1864 when Lee surprised Grant by aggressively attacking the Union army's larger force. The battle represented the first instance during the Civil War in which Grant and Lee clashed. The Memorial Garden Tract consists of acreage that is in the core and study areas of the battle. Much of it lay in the rear of Union Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock’s battle line during the chaotic battle. Incurring nearly 30,000 combined Union and Confederate casualties, the battle ended inconclusively for either side.
Fishers Hill Battlefield, Shenandoah County
Preserved Property: Lyon Farm (62.398 acres)
Sponsor: Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation
During Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign in 1864, Confederate fortifications across the width of the valley at Fishers Hill prevented the Union army’s use of the Valley Turnpike (U.S. 11 today). A Union attack on September 21, 1864 at Fisher’s Hill and a surprise Union flanking maneuver on September 22 resulted in a Confederate retreat, opening the Shenandoah Valley to Union Gen. Phil Sheridan’s destruction of mills, barns, crops and livestock later that year. The Lyon Farm lies astride one of the tallest hills on the Fisher’s Hill battlefield. The farm, situated near the center of Confederate earthworks that spanned the battlefield, was held by Confederates forces including artillery at the crest of the hill. Under the attack of Union forces, the Confederate defense collapsed. The battle resulted in about 1,235 Confederate and 528 Union dead or wounded.
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