Matthew Minion

Save Key Land At 4 Virginia Battlefields

We need your help to build on past success and start the new year on a high note! Today, we have the chance to save critical acres at four Virginia battlefields: Cedar Creek, Cedar Mountain, Sailor’s Creek and Ware Bottom Church.

At stake are 602 acres of historic land, where men in blue and gray fought and died for what they held most dear. Thanks to federal, state, local and individual matching funds, we can complete these transactions – worth more than $3,344,000 – all for just $84,000. But first, we need your help! Please read on to learn the history of each of these critical battlefields.

Cedar Creek

At Cedar Creek, we have the chance to save two key tracts amounting to 30 acres of extraordinarily significant battlefield land. In doing so, we can tell the story of one of the riskiest approach marches attempted during the Civil War and that of a surprise Confederate attack that broke the Union line. More dramatic still, this action unfolded in the weeks leading up to the 1864 presidential election, in many eyes a referendum on the Union war effort.

Early on the morning of October 19, 1864, Confederate General John B. Gordon’s troops launched a devastating strike against the Union left flank, advancing through the fog over the very land we are working diligently to save. By mid-morning, the Federal troops had been driven back five miles, resulting in what appeared to be a stunning Confederate victory, even though the Union would be declared the official victors. Union General Philip Sheridan, who had been attending a council of war in Washington the previous day, rode 13 miles from Winchester Va., after the sounds of war reached him. His famed efforts to rally and reform his broken army became known as “Sheridan’s Ride.”

As the Washington, D.C., commuting area continues to expand, the land around Cedar Creek is becoming increasingly appealing to residential developers. As one of the nation’s eleven, congressionally designated “Priority I.1 Class A” battlefields, we must preserve any and all core acres at Cedar Creek whenever we can.

Cedar Mountain

At Cedar Mountain, you and I can significantly increase amount of the preserved land connected to one of the war’s most storied generals – Stonewall Jackson.

On August 9, 1862, in the midst of a blistering Virginia piedmont summer, Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson decided to seize an opportunity to attack a portion of Union Maj. Gen. John Pope’s army near Culpeper, Va. As Confederate troops faced off against those under the command of Union Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks, Jackson attempted to rally his men by drawing his sword but found that it had rusted to its scabbard. He then lifted sword and scabbard together, inspiring his troops and miraculously escaping injury or death in the thickest of combat. Today, we are targeting land associated with the opening and closing hours of the fighting that took place here.

Thanks to your support, the Trust and other preservation organizations have saved a great deal of the Cedar Mountain Battlefield, but we have even more to go. Another “bedroom community” for Washington, D.C., Culpeper County faces similar threats from developers, which means that we must act now to take advantage of a preservation opportunity that’s almost as miraculous as Stonewall Jackson’s survival on these key acres!

Sailor’s Creek

At Sailor’s Creek, we have the chance to save another 433 acres, preserving an enormous part of the battlefield, and adding to the important work that’s been done to protect the land associated with the Appomattox Campaign.

By April 1865, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had been forced to abandon Richmond and the supply lines and trenches around Petersburg. As Lee moved his army and wagon trains west, Union cavalry sought to wreak havoc at every opportunity, particularly around natural obstacles like fords, pressing them to form defensive lines around the all-important supplies.

On April 6, the Union Second Corps attacked the Confederate wagon train near the farm of James Lockett, at the Sailor’s Creek crossing. Gordon’s troops sought to defend their critical supplies, and fighting continued around the house, resulting in heavy losses for what was a brief battle. The Confederates suffered 1,700 men killed, captured, or wounded, in addition to 13 battle flags, three cannons, 200 wagons and 70 ambulances captured, while Federal forces saw 536 men killed, wounded or captured.

Now, we have the chance to add more than 430 acres of land to this battlefield, ensuring that this important part of one of the final campaigns of the Civil War is not forgotten.

Ware Bottom Church

At Ware Bottom Church, near Petersburg, we are saving a 53-acre tract of battlefield that saw important action during the 1864 Bermuda Hundred Campaign.

On May 20, 1864, the 97th Pennsylvania Infantry advanced over a rise on the property we are working to save and were met by a Confederate battery of 24 guns. At the same time, the Confederates succeeded in pushing the Federal picket line back. Part of “The Howlett Line,” this area was continuously occupied by both Union and Confederate troops from June 1864 until April 1865, when Confederate forces abandoned their lines around Petersburg.

As a bonus, the land we are saving at Ware Bottom Church contains some of the most pristine, well-preserved gun emplacements of any battlefield, anywhere, adding to the educational value of this particular property.

Saving this land now will add crucial acres to an existing Civil War park and interpretive trail, forever preserving the largest remaining portion of that battlefield that is still left to be saved! Bounded on three sides by houses, industrial warehouses, and Interstate 95, we simply must do everything in our power to protect what land remains.

Your generosity has already allowed us to save crucial historic land at all four of these battlefields. Now, with your help, we will have the chance to do even more at each of these sites, taking critical action to combat the threats that can harm some of our nation’s greatest outdoor classrooms. Will you start the year on a high note and help me take advantage of this opportunity to save American history and heritage by turning every one of your dollars into $40?

So, if you are looking for the biggest bang for your charitable buck (we can turn every $1 into nearly $40 if we act fast), if you want to save absolutely key parts of your country’s history, and if you want to build on our past successes and set the stage for future victories, then I humbly suggest this is the project for you!
Jim Lighthizer, American Battlefield Trust president

Save These Key Virginia Acres

Civil War  |  Battle Map

Cedar Mountain - August 9, 1862

BATTLE MAP | American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia on August 9, 1862