DHR Administers Easement Over Land Linked to Four Civil War Battles

Published March 6, 2024
Little Malvern Hill

Little Malvern Hill

Virginia Department of Historic Resources
Capital Region Land Conservancy
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
For Immediate Release
March 6, 2024

Contact:
Ivy Tan
Department of Historic Resources
Marketing & Communications Manager
ivy.tan@dhr.virginia.gov
804-482-6445

Parker C. Agelasto
Capital Region Land Conservancy
Executive Director
parker@capitalregionland.org
202-302-0153

—The easement protects property in Henrico County associated with the Peninsula Campaign and other battles of the American Civil War (1861-1865)—

RICHMOND – The Department of Historic Resources (DHR) has executed and recorded a perpetual historic preservation easement over property in Henrico County that comprises the sites of four different battles in the American Civil War. The easement protects more than 41 acres of historic open-space land from subdivision and commercial development.

Known as Little Malvern Hill, the property was part of a larger historically significant property called Malvern Hill Farm until about 1877. Located at 5270 New Market Road, Little Malvern Hill (the Property) encompasses areas where the Civil War Battles of Glendale (1862), Malvern Hill (1862), Deep Bottom I (1864), and Deep Bottom II (1864) took place. The entire Property falls within the historic cores of the Glendale and Malvern Hill Battlefields as identified in the Report on the Nations’ Civil War Battlefields (published 1993). The Battles of Glendale and Malvern Hill were part of the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, a major operation launched by the Union to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond. The Peninsula Campaign culminated in the Seven Days’ Battles, a series of decisive battles that thwarted the Union Army’s attempt to take Richmond in 1862. Of note, Confederate Maj. Gen. Theophilus Holmes’s troops advanced and retreated across and near the Property as part of his actions during both battles.

“I’m glad to see this distinction awarded to historic sites in Henrico Country,” U.S. Senator Mark Warner said, “America’s rich, and at times troubling, history is woven into the fabric of the Commonwealth, and preserving these sites is crucial to telling the whole story of our country.”

“This easement will preserve more than 41 acres of land that saw historic battles in the Civil War, while protecting the area’s natural environment, wildlife, and scenery,” the senator added.

CRLC Land Holdings, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC), acquired Little Malvern Hill in 2023 through, in part, a Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program and a Virginia Land Conservation Foundation grant administered by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). As a requirement of the grants, CRLC donated the easement to the Virginia Board of Historic Resources (VBHR). CRLC intends to interpret the Property for its historic battlefield significance and provide the public with access to the Property’s history.

“We are proud to continue protecting the natural and historic resources in Henrico County through this acquisition of 41 acres adjacent the larger 871-acre Malvern Hill Farm tract that CRLC purchased five years ago,” said Parker C. Agelasto, Executive Director of Capital Region Land Conservancy. “Acre by acre, we are connecting to a larger landscape of more than 6,000 acres that yields a sizeable benefit for wildlife, agriculture, outdoor recreation, and historic preservation.”

The landscape of Little Malvern Hill is mostly level, with a mix of open land and forested terrain. A historic earthen road runs along the eastern boundary of the property. The easement protects more than 26 acres of forested cover, more than 34 acres of soils identified as prime farmland, and approximately 50 feet of frontage on Crewes Channel. The Property fronts New Market Road (Virginia Route 5) for approximately a quarter of a mile and is visible from the Virginia Capital Trail. Additionally, the Property supports numerous ecosystems and wetland and wildlife habitats.

“Protecting this historically significant site, adjacent to Richmond National Battlefield Park, increases the connectivity of protected lands around Malvern Hill,” said Matthew S. Wells, Director of the Virginia DCR and Executive Secretary of the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation. “With significant road frontage along Route 5, a designated Virginia Byway, this acquisition also helps to protect scenic views that are important to Virginians,” Wells said.

The sixth of the Seven Days’ Battles, the Battle of Glendale occurred on June 30, 1862. The Union Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan was retreating south toward the James River after a tactical defeat at Gaines Mill on June 27. The village of Glendale, located north of the Property, was situated at a vital crossroads, and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee moved his troops in that direction to trap the Union army and prevent their movement south. On June 30, Confederate divisions under Maj. Gen. James Longstreet and Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill attacked Union troops at Glendale. These assaults initially overpowered the Union’s defensive line, but counterattacks led by Brig. Gen. Joseph Hooker and Brig. Gen. Philip Kearney ultimately pushed the Confederates back and protected the Union troops’ route of retreat along Willis Church Road.

During the battle, Confederate Maj. Gen. Holmes advanced east along New Market Road with more than 5,100 infantrymen, four artillery batteries, and 130 improvised cavalries. His orders were to bombard retreating Union forces near Malvern Hill. However, Union artillery fire from Malvern Hill and gun boats along the James River repulsed Holmes’ brigade. Holmes retreated to the general vicinity of the Property. He led an offensive against Malvern Hill again that afternoon but was driven back. Holmes then sought his own position, believing there would be a march on Richmond.

The Battle of Malvern Hill was the final of the Seven Days’ Battles. In late June 1862, Union Maj. Gen. McClellan ordered Malvern Hill to be fortified for a defensive stand after being alerted to the strategic importance of the hill’s 130-foot cliff, located just northeast of the Property. On July 1, 1862, Confederate Gen. Lee launched a series of attacks against the Union defensive position on Malvern Hill. Lee unleashed an unsuccessful artillery counterattack in the early afternoon and suffered heavy losses. The Union Army successfully defended their retreat toward Harrison’s Landing.

After failing to advance during the Battle of Glendale the day before, troops and artillery under Confederate Maj. Gen. Holmes established a position at the intersection of the modern New Market Road and Willis Church Road. From this area, Holmes ordered his troops to stand down and wrote in his official report that he could not attack the Union position at Malvern Hill due to his “inadequate force.” In the aftermath of the battle, Holmes was relieved of his field command in the Eastern Theater of the war. The Battle of Malvern Hill, which ended the Peninsula Campaign, resulted in a Union victory and approximately 8,500 casualties combined from both sides.

Little Malvern Hill is also situated within the boundaries of the Deep Bottom I and Deep Bottom II Battlefields. The Battles of First Deep Bottom and Second Deep Bottom are significant due to their association with African American military heritage and the contributions made by the United States Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.) during the Civil War.

As of 2023, DHR has placed under easement more than 45,000 acres of land. DHR easements are held by the VBHR, and DHR staff monitor the eased lands. The VBHR currently holds easements on approximately 15,900 acres of battlefields in Virginia.

About Our Partners:

Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC)
Incorporated in March 2005 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, CRLC seeks to conserve and protect the natural and historic land and water resources of Virginia’s Capital Region for the benefit of current and future generations. Visit www.capitalregionland.org to learn more about CRLC’s land conservation programs.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR)
DCR is the state's lead natural resource conservation agency. DCR’s programs are designed to protect natural habitats, parks, clean water, dams, and open space across the Commonwealth, providing Virginians access to the outdoors. To learn more, visit www.dcr.virginia.gov.

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