(Washington, D.C.) – As the final year of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial came to a close, the Civil War Trust, America’s premier battlefield preservation organization, announced the successful conclusion of another year of historic land conservation. Through the generosity of individual donors, coupled with strategic partnerships with government officials and nonprofit groups across the country, the Trust protected nearly 1,700 acres of land in 13 states during 2015. In addition, the conclusion of the Trust’s four-year capital campaign raised an unprecedented $52.5 million — more than 30 percent above the original goal — resulting in more than 10,000 acres of preserved hallowed ground.
“Our achievements this year highlight more than ever the incredible contributions of devoted Americans nationwide,” noted Trust President James Lighthizer. “The private citizens who band together in support of preservation have saved more American history, educated more Americans, and created a more lasting legacy than ever before in this country.”
Working closely in cooperation with willing landowners and preservation partners, the Trust completed 40 transactions at 29 battlefield sites: Elkin’s Ferry, Ark.; Sand Creek, Colo.; Chickamauga, Ga.; Mill Springs and Perryville, Ky.; Antietam and Monocacy, Md.; Lexington and Concord, Mass.; Brice’s Cross Roads, Champion Hill and Corinth, Miss.; Princeton, N.J.; Wyse Fork, N.C.; Gettysburg, Pa.; Chattanooga, Shiloh and Stones River, Tenn.; Cedar Creek, Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor, Gaines’ Mill, Glendale, Kernstown, Second Deep Bottom, Third Winchester, Trevilian Station, White Oak Road and Williamsburg, Va.; and Shepherdstown, W.Va.
The Trust was able to celebrate several landmark successes in 2015 in conjunction with nationally renowned preservation advocates. Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael Connor joined the Trust to announce the protection of 44 acres at the epicenter of Antietam National Battlefield. U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers participated in a ceremony trumpeting the conservation of 118 acres at Mill Springs battlefield in Kentucky. And Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell commemorated the 150th anniversary of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, praising preservation achievements at that site.
“Our Civil War and other battlefields are hallowed places where we honor the fallen and come to better understand the forces and events that shaped the course of our nation,” Secretary Jewell noted in her April remarks. “Partnerships with states, nonprofit organizations like the Civil War Trust, and stakeholders at the federal level have made it possible to permanently protect and interpret these places for generations of American people.”
The Trust also announced the completed restoration of 56 acres at Brandy Station battlefield’s Fleetwood Hill and the transfer of 11 acres to Vicksburg National Military Park. In January, the Trust made its second largest acquisition in its history, permanently protecting the site of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s headquarters during the Battle of Gettysburg. These transactions helped bring the Trust’s total preservation achievements to more than 42,000 acres saved in 22 states.
The Trust’s Campaign 1776 project, the first-ever national initiative to preserve and interpret the battlefields of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, celebrated its one-year anniversary in November 2015. In June, Campaign 1776 launched a fundraising campaign for one critical acre of land adjacent to Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, Mass. and contributed to a grant for archaeological study of the land that revealed crucial new information about the Battles of Lexington and Concord. A ribbon cutting ceremony also applauded the transfer of 4.6 acres of land to Princeton Battlefield State Park.
“Many of our Revolutionary War battlefields were lost long ago — buried beneath the concrete and asphalt of Brooklyn and Trenton and consumed by the sprawl of Boston, New York and Philadelphia,” said Jack Warren, executive director of the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati. “Those unspoiled landscapes that remain are precious reminders of the struggle to achieve independence and create a republic dedicated to the liberty of ordinary people. No organization is better equipped to lead us in this work than the Civil War Trust.”
In addition to its land acquisition successes, the Trust promoted greater appreciation and understanding of America’s defining conflicts through its innovative educational programs and digital offerings. In 2015, the Trust website received almost 8 million unique visitors, a 36 percent increase over 2014. The Trust’s 360 battlefield panoramas allowed viewers to digitally tour historic sites from anywhere, and a new animated map video depicts the entire Civil War with vivid and engaging details. The Trust’s Teacher Institute, an annual gathering to enrich the Civil War for educators across the country, celebrated its most-attended program to date. Additionally, the Trust launched its Generations Program in June, a new series of events and online resources designed to provide parents, grandparents and other adults with the tools to share history with young people in their personal lives.
“The online and mobile technology the Trust produces creates a richer experience for battlefield visitors, and also helps bring the education and interpretation tools of the Trust into the home and classroom,” said Lighthizer. “Our videos, apps, and particularly the new Generations program all help ensure today’s youth understand the importance of preserving battlefields for tomorrow.”
The Trust also earned accolades for its sound fiscal management and commitment to top-notch donor relations, renewing its Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance accreditation and receiving a prestigious Top-Rated Award by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofit organizations. In addition, the Trust maintained its 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s leading charity evaluator, for a sixth straight year — an honor attained by only 3 percent of charities assessed by that organization. Further, the Trust’s membership magazine, Hallowed Ground, again earned top honors for outstanding quality through the APEX Awards for Publication Excellence — its seventh-consecutive Grand Award.
The Trust’s preservation success in 2015 would not have been possible without the dedication of Trust partners, including: American Battlefield Protection Program, National Park Service, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council, Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site (N.C.), Boyle County Fiscal Court (Ky.), City of Chattanooga (Tenn.), City of Franklin (Tenn.), County of Chesterfield Parks and Recreation (Va.), Department of Agriculture Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, Georgia Battlefields Association, Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission (W.Va.), Kentucky Heritage Council, Madison County Fiscal Court (Ky.), Louisiana Office of State Parks, Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Municipality of Princeton (N.J.), New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs-Historic Preservation Division, North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission-Bureau for Historic Preservation, Pulaski County Fiscal Court (Ky.), State of Colorado, Tennessee Historical Commission, Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Tennessee Department of Transportation, Town of Lincoln (Mass.), Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and Virginia Department of Transportation.
Numerous organizations also contributed to these preservation successes, including: Averasboro Battlefield Commission, Brandy Station Foundation, Brice’s Cross Roads National Battlefield Commission, Busch Properties, Inc., Franklin’s Charge, Central Maryland Heritage League, Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, The Colorado Trust, The Conservation Fund, Department of Arkansas Heritage, Friends of Minute Man National Park, Friends of Shiloh National Military Park, Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, Georgia Piedmont Land Trust, Gettysburg Foundation, Glorieta Battlefield Preservation Society, HTR Foundation, Historic Virginia Land Conservancy, History Colorado, The Joseph Henry Edmondson Foundation, The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, Kernstown Battlefield Association, Land Conservancy of Adams County, Land Trust for Tennessee, Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle, Lyndhurst Foundation, Manassas Battlefield Trust, Maryland Environmental Trust, Maryland Historical Trust, Mill Springs Battlefield Association, National Parks Conservation Association, New Mexico Land Conservancy, Nevada County Depot and Museum, North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, Petersburg National Battlefield Foundation, Piedmont Environmental Council, Princeton Battlefield Society, Richmond Battlefields Association, Riverview Foundation, Save Historic Antietam Foundation, Silver Companies, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association, Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association, Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation Trust for Public Land and Wallace Foundation.
The Civil War Trust is the largest and most effective nonprofit organization devoted to the preservation of America’s hallowed battlegrounds. Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, through its Campaign 1776 initiative, the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 42,000 acres of battlefield land in 23 states. Learn more at www.civilwar.org.
The Civil War Preservation Trust became the Civil War Trust in January 2011; the Civil War Trust became a division of the American Battlefield Trust in May 2018. Campaign 1776 was created in 2014 as an initiative of the Civil War Trust; in May 2018 it became the Revolutionary War Trust, a division of the American Battlefield Trust.