(Washington, D.C) - The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), the nation's largest nonprofit battlefield preservation group, announced today its land preservation accomplishments for 2006. The organization permanently protected 1,329 acres of hallowed ground at 16 different Civil War battlefields in nine states. Overall, CWPT has protected 23,652 acres of core battlefield at 96 sites in 18 states.
"Looking at the list of land that our generous members have helped us save in the past year, I can't help but swell with pride," remarked CWPT president Jim Lighthizer. "What we accomplished in 2006 is a perfect illustration of why we are in business — saving the most historically important ground at the Civil War's most crucial battlefields. Last year we did just that, and in unprecedented fashion."
Topping the list of 2006 accomplishments for CWPT is the 208-acre Slaughter Pen Farm in Spotsylvania County, Va. With a $12 million price tag, the property associated with the December 13, 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg is the single most expensive private battlefield preservation effort in American history. But according to Lighthizer, the nearly unspoiled land was worth every penny.
"Experts consider the Slaughter Pen Farm to be the spot where the Battle of Fredericksburg was won and lost. Five Medals of Honor were awarded for valor shown on this property; the veterans themselves dubbed it the ?Slaughter Pen' for the blood that was shed here. We simply could not sit by and allow land this important to the American story be bulldozed into oblivion," he said.
Preservationists also celebrated the end of a four-year struggle to protect the First Day at Chancellorsville Battlefield. In 2002 a coalition of preservation groups announced its intention to defeat a major development proposed for the site of the May 1, 1863 fighting. In 2004, CWPT was able to acquire 140 acres of the First Day Battlefield east of historic Lick Run. A November vote by the county Board of Supervisors cleared the way for the sale of the remaining 74 acres of the battlefield to CWPT. The Trust will be asking its members to contribute toward the purchase of the property this spring. What had once been considered an impossible goal will soon be achieved.
Also at the top of CWPT's 2006 accomplishments is the defeat of the proposed 5,000-slots casino near East Cavalry Field at Gettysburg. CWPT, along with No Casino Gettysburg and national and regional preservation groups, opposed the slots parlor from the very beginning, believing America's most famous battlefield shrine to be the worst possible location for a gambling parlor. Moreover, a casino would have further exacerbated already intense development pressures in the Gettysburg region.
In addition, last year's accomplishments are remarkable for how they contributed toward achieving critical mass at several battlefields where CWPT has already done significant preservation work. For example, CWPT has now helped protect 1,454 acres at Trevilian Station, Va., 780 acres at Bentonville, N.C., 697 acres at Gettysburg, Pa., and 495 acres at Champion Hill, Miss.
"We know the time we have left to save these hallowed grounds is short," Lighthizer said. "In some places the time we have left can be measured in months; in other regions we are lucky if we have a few years. The development pressures facing many communities with Civil War battlefields are immense, but we will continue working with our many dedicated partners to protect these unique resources for future generations."
The full roster of sites protected in 2006 includes: 6.5 acres at Mine Creek in Kansas; 1 acre at Munfordville and 54 acres at Perryville in Kentucky; 58 acres at Champion Hill in Mississippi; 70 acres at Wilson's Creek in Missouri; 299 acres at Bentonville in North Carolina; 105 acres at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania; 8 acres at Fort Donelson in Tennessee; 8 acres at Brandy Station, 74 acres at Chancellorsville, 208 acres at Fredericksburg, 1 acre at the John Meigs death site in Rockingham County, 200 acres at Port Republic, 6 acres at Second Deep Bottom and 170 acres at Trevilian Station in Virginia; and 59 acres at Shepherdstown in West Virginia.
With a variety of preservation projects already on the table or under investigation, CWPT is looking forward to further success in 2007. The year also marks the organization's 20th anniversary in the battlefield protection business.
With 70,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our country's remaining Civil War battlefields. Since 1987, the organization has saved more than 23,500 acres of hallowed ground nationwide. CWPT's website is located at www.civilwar.org.