Matthew Huntley
Civil War  |  News

American Battlefield Trust Secures 128 Acres of Historic Land Around Richmond, Va.

Protected lands include portions of the overlapping battlefields at Gaines’ Mill ad Cold Harbor

(Richmond, Va.) – The American Battlefield Trust is declaring victory in its most recent efforts to protect historic battlefield land around Richmond, Va., having completed the protection of 128 acres associated with the Battles of Gaines’ Mill and Cold Harbor. Fought in 1862 and 1864, respectively, those engagements were two of the most critical, fought in subsequent campaigns against the Confederate capital. The Trust has now protected more than 26,800 acres across Virginia.

“Associated with both the Peninsula Campaign, which brought the Army of the Potomac to the gates of Richmond, and the culmination of the Overland Campaign, which saw legendary generals Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee locked in six weeks of near-constant combat as they sought to outmaneuver each other, this is land integral to the story of America’s defining conflicts,” said Trust President Jim Lighthizer

This preservation effort represents the acquisition of six individual properties with a total transaction value of approximately $3.3 million, a figure driven by the region’s strong real estate market and the presence of modern homes that will be removed as part of their long term preservation. But, thanks to matching grants from the federal American Battlefield Protection Program and the Commonwealth of Virginia, plus contributions from several major donors, the Trust’s fundraising goal from private donors was reduced to $1.7 million.

Included in the effort is the acquisition of a 50-acre parcel from Hanover County that had once been planned to become a massive sportsplex with multiple ballfields, parking and towering lights that would have allowed for night games. If built, it would have destroyed critical battlefield land and acted like a magnet to draw additional development to the area, widening roads, and threatening further loss. This parcel played a key part in both battles: in Lighthizer’s words, this is a place where “In all probability — Stonewall Jackson and JEB Stuart stood in 1862, and U.S. Grant and Phil Sheridan stood in 1864.”

The June 27, 1862, Battle of Gaines’s Mill was Lee’s first major victory in command of the Army of Northern Virginia, beginning a surge of momentum that carried the Confederates into Maryland and the Battle of Antietam that September. Two years later, Grant’s disastrous assaults at the Battle of Cold Harbor, fought May 31–June 12, 1864, on the same Virginia soil, would mark Lee’s final decisive battlefield victory of the war.  

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 52,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. Learn more at