American Battlefield Trust Honors Battlefield Preservation Champions At Annual Conference

National nonprofit recognizes outstanding leaders dedicated to preserving hallowed ground in Kentucky and Tennessee

(Lexington, Ky.) — During the annual gathering of its members in Lexington this week, American Battlefield Trust president James Lighthizer recognized four outstanding battlefield preservation advocates with the organization’s preservation awards.

“The fight to protect our nation’s hallowed grounds requires dedication, passion and hard work from individuals throughout the United States,” Lighthizer said. “The individuals and organizations that we honor in Lexington are an unwavering force in the struggle to save these vulnerable links to our past.  Their work today leaves a preservation legacy that will benefit generations to come.”

Since the inception of its battlefield preservation awards in 2001, the Trust has honored a wide variety of individuals and groups for their achievements in protecting endangered battlefields.  Previous winners include historians, scholars, National Park Service personnel, lawmakers and local preservation partners. Despite such disparate backgrounds, all have given unique and lasting contributions to historic battlefield preservation.  The 2019 preservation awards to be presented in Kentucky are:

Edwin C. Bearss Lifetime Achievement Award: The Trust is honoring Robert Hicks of Franklin, Tenn., with the Edwin C. Bearss Lifetime Achievement Award. As a New York Times bestselling author, Hicks’ novels have brought national attention to the Franklin community and the cause of battlefield preservation. With the future of the Franklin battlefield in the balance, Hicks re-enlivened the community’s spirit of preservation in 2005 through co-founding Franklin’s Charge — a broad-based coalition dedicated to recapturing Franklin’s Civil War legacy — and has helped the Trust reclaim and restore nearly 200 acres of hallowed ground to date. The Trust is privileged to work side-by-side with Hicks and others in Franklin inspired by his passion on what the National Park Service has called “the largest battlefield reclamation in North American history.” The award is named after renowned historian and preservationist Edwin C. Bearss, who was its first recipient in 2001 and again received the award in 2018 for his dedication to battlefield preservation and Civil War history.

Shelby Foote Preservation Legacy Award: The Trust presented the Shelby Foote Preservation Legacy Award to Joni House, manager of Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site. House has been instrumental in preservation efforts at Perryville that have enabled the Trust to save 1,027 acres of that battlefield — and recently worked with the American Battlefield Protection Program to complete an economic impact study of Kentucky’s battlefields. House also serves as president of the Kentucky Military Heritage Sites Alliance. The award is named after late historian and author Shelby Foote, who dedicated his life to educating Americans on the Civil War.

State Leadership Awards: The Trust awarded its State Leadership Award to two state entities that have made lasting contributions to the cause of battlefield preservation in Kentucky — the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund (KHLCF) and Kentucky State Parks. KHLCF is the primary source of state funding for the purchase and management of natural areas and has funded Kentucky’s acquisition of more than 130 acres at the Perryville battlefield. Kentucky State Parks is responsible for operating and stewarding more than 40 resorts, recreation parks and historic sites across the state and has played a significant role in the preservation of the Perryville battlefield since 1936. Kentucky State Parks has also done important work to protect and steward other battlefield sites across the state, including Blue Licks, Fort Boonesborough and Old Fort Harrod.  

The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today.  The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 50,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War, including 2,856 acres in Kentucky and 3,516 acres in Tennessee. Learn more at