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The sun setting over the Chattanooga Battlefield.  Trees silhouetted in the foreground.

Chattanooga Battlefield, Tenn.

Buddy Secor

Help Protect 407 Acres Across Four Sacred Battlefields

The Opportunity

Over the course of a little more than two years, five battles across three states in the Western Theater of the Civil War were fought that changed the course, and ultimately, the outcome of the American Civil War. Union and Confederate forces fought fiercely on these tracts of land to control the means of transportation in the south — both on the river and by railroad. We have an opportunity to save these lands so that the history that unfolded on these hallowed grounds is never lost or forgotten.

A map showing the Western battles
American Battlefield Trust
These four individual battles across three states in the Western Theater of the Civil War changed the course, and ultimately, the outcome of the American Civil War. American Battlefield Trust

The Battle of Corinth

The first small parcel of ground in Corinth, Mississippi we have an opportunity to save— just six-tenths of an acre — played a big role in the fighting, eventually giving the Union Army control of the railroads that converged there and an opportunity to strike towards the garrison city nicknamed the “Gibraltar of the South”— Vicksburg. This small parcel has been listed for sale in the local real estate market and is literally across the street from the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, making it an incredibly valuable addition to the National Park Service site. With your generous support, we can buy the land outright, stewarding it until we can transfer it to the Park Service.

The Battle of Champion Hill

Recently, thanks to your generous support, we were able to meet our fundraising goal to secure a 144-acre tract at the heart of the Battle of Champion Hill. Now, the Champion family who have faithfully protected their ancestral lands since the fighting took place, have agreed to let us acquire an even larger parcel of land at the northern portion of the battlefield — 393.7 acres to be exact. Saving the Champions’ land from commercial development or new housing projects is what is best for this tract so this important chapter of our nation’s history can be available to future generations.

The Siege & Battle at Port Hudson

When Confederate forces surrendered at Port Hudson, the Union Army secured a vital port on the Mississippi River. You and I have the chance to purchase — and save forever — this incredibly historic 2.6-acre tract that lies well within the Confederates’ defenses that were impacted heavily by an almost nonstop bombardment of Union artillery. The property also contains a portion of the post-siege earthworks that were constructed by the Union’s Corps d’Afrique, a unit that later became part of the United States Colored Troops — adding to its historic nature. Also listed for sale in the local real estate market, this tract will be a lost opportunity unless we buy it outright and care for the land until we can transfer it to the state of Louisiana for inclusion in the Port Hudson State Historic Site.

The Battle of Chattanooga

Finally, there are two preservation opportunities that figured prominently in the Battle of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga. The first tract, a 7.6-acre parcel includes the area near Lookout Creek at Light’s Mill, where Federal troops struck the main Confederate picket line before climbing the western slope of Lookout Mountain to launch a flank attack against Confederate forces positioned above them. 

The second is a 2.2-acre tract across the street from the first tract. Both are either listed for sale or are about to be and are the envy of developers because they have easy access to Lookout Creek or can be subdivided into multiple lots for new homes.

Given the history of all these tracts, and given the threats they face, we want to purchase them as quickly as possible.  

Please make your most generous gift today to help us raise $307,450 and save 407 critical acres of land in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee, where four decisive battles won by Union forces eventually led to the end of the war itself. 

 

The Background

Historic turning points — four individual battles across three states in the Western Theater of the Civil War that changed the course, and ultimately, the outcome of the American Civil War. 

The best way to understand the impact and importance of each battle and the effect it had on the next, and to make the case why theses 407 acres are so valuable, we need to look at them in chronological order.

The dominoes started falling in May 1862 in Corinth, Mississippi, where the Mobile & Ohio and the Memphis & Charleston railroads converged in this small town. Control of the rail lines provided access to the Confederate heartland and served as a way to reach the South’s key coastal ports. That month, Union forces captured the town in the First Battle of Corinth. Months later, in October 1862, Confederate forces led by General Earl Van Dorn returned to Corinth, hoping to recapture this strategic location. But with heavy casualties, the Confederates were once again defeated, giving the Union Army important control over the rail lines and a pathway to strike Vicksburg. 

A year later, in May 1863, General Grant’s army was marching unchecked through Mississippi. Confederate General John C. Pemberton left the Vicksburg defenses, hoping to prevent the Federals from severing the railroads that fed the fortress city. The two armies met that day in a ferocious firefight that raged primarily over high ground owned by Sid and Matilda Champion. After a fierce struggle, Grant’s army drove the Confederates off Champion Hill and back to the relative safety of their fortifications in Vicksburg, setting the stage for the siege that ended with the city’s capitulation on July 4, 1863. 

While Grant’s army was engaged in Mississippi, Union General Nathaniel Banks was advancing upon Shreveport, Louisiana, and the Mississippi River, the South’s vital lifeline for goods and supplies. His goal was to capture Port Hudson, 150 miles south of Vicksburg, and control the river. While General Banks believed he would have an easy victory over General Franklin Gardner’s Confederate forces, Gardner’s men kept them at bay and managed to fight off Union forces for 48 long, miserable days. It was only when Gardner received word that Vicksburg had fallen that he realized the situation was hopeless. He surrendered Port Hudson to General Banks, ceding control of the Mississippi River to the Union forces. 

In October 1863, General Ulysses S. Grant was given command of all Union forces in the west where he established the vital “Cracker Line” to feed his starving army and defeated the Confederate counterattack at Wauhatchie. Grant then turned his focus to a Union breakout and to Chattanooga. 

The three-day Battles of Chattanooga, with the Union’s victory on Lookout Mountain, resulted in one of the most dramatic turnabouts in American military history. When the fighting stopped on November 25, 1863, Union forces had driven Confederate troops away from Chattanooga, Tennessee, into Georgia, clearing the way for Union General William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea a year later. Sherman wreaked havoc as his troops blazed a path of destruction, burning towns between Atlanta and Savannah in an effort to cripple the South. 

All told, these four decisive battles, with victory after victory for Union forces, and the capture and control of strategic locations where railroad lines were and the Mississippi River flowed, contributed to the eventual conclusion of the American Civil War. 

Make a gift today

You and I have the incredible opportunity to save forever five tracts of land totaling over 400 acres where four pivotal battles took place—the Battle of Corinth, the Battle of Champion Hill, the Siege and Battle at Port Hudson, and the Battle of Chattanooga. At each battle, Union forces carried the day, and the cumulative weight of these victories — like dominoes slowly falling — eventually led to the end of the American Civil War itself.
David N. Duncan, American Battlefield Trust President

Help Protect Five Sacred Battlefield Tracts

407
Acres Targeted
Civil War  |  Battle Map

Corinth - October 4, 1862

BATTLE MAP | American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi on October 4, 1862
Civil War  |  Battle Map

Champion Hill - May 16, 1863

BATTLE MAP | American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Battle of Champion Hill, Mississippi on May 16, 1863
Civil War  |  Battle Map

Port Hudson - May 27, 1863

BATTLE MAP | The American Battlefield Trust's map of the Siege of Port Hudson on May 27, 1863