(Chattanooga, Tenn.) – During an annual gathering of its members in Chattanooga last week, Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer recognized some of the outstanding leaders of battlefield preservation with the organization’s annual preservation awards. The Civil War Trust is a national nonprofit land preservation organization dedicated to the protection of Civil War, Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlegrounds.
“Saving our nation’s battlefields requires the passion and dedication of countless individuals across the United States,” remarked Lighthizer. “Though we cannot recognize all who have contributed to the cause of battlefield preservation, through our annual preservation awards we can acknowledge and celebrate a small few who have gone above and beyond.”
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 Civil War battlefields. Previous winners include historians, scholars, National Park Service personnel, celebrities and even residential developers. Despite such disparate backgrounds, all have given unique and lasting contributions to historic preservation. Seven awards were announced during the Chattanooga conference:
National Preservation Leadership Award: The Trust presented its National Preservation Leadership Award to two outstanding Tennessee lawmakers: U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn. During their tenures on Capitol Hill, Sen. Alexander and Rep. Blackburn have cultivated strong records of safeguarding Tennessee’s unique cultural resources and supporting federal battlefield preservation legislation. Both have been instrumental in working to pass the Shiloh National Military Park Boundary Adjustment Act, a measure that would protect more than 2,000 acres of hallowed ground at the Davis Bridge, Russell House and Fallen Timbers battlefield sites at Shiloh and Corinth. The bill passed in the House earlier this year.
Shelby Foote Preservation Legacy Award: The Trust presented the Shelby Foote Preservation Legacy Award to the HTR Foundation. With a total of $4.8 million in contributions to date, the Foundation is the Trust’s number one private sector partner. In 2015 and 2016 alone, support from the HTR Foundation resulted in the preservation of more than 550 acres at Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Appomattox Court House and Champion Hill. The foundation also provides funding for many of the Trust’s educational initiatives, including smartphone apps, videos and other digital resources. The award is named after late historian and author Shelby Foote, who dedicated his life to educating Americans on the Civil War.
State Preservation Leadership Award: The Trust presented the State Preservation Leadership Award to Mary Ann Peckham, Executive Director of the Tennessee Civil War Preservation Association. The TCWPA is a statewide organization that identifies and raises funds for Tennessee’s surviving battlefield sites, and has benefited tremendously from Peckham’s leadership. TCWPA also worked with the Trust in 2015 to preserve land associated with the Battle of Brown’s Ferry, a fight which opened up the “Cracker Line” for the Union and allowed supplies into Chattanooga in October 1863.
Carrington Williams Battlefield Champion Award: The Trust presented the Battlefield Champion Award to Mike Babb, who served as Chairman of the Whitfield County Commission in Georgia from 1997 to 2016. The Trust has worked with Babb and Whitfield County since 2002 to preserve battlefield land at Rocky Face Ridge – an important early conflict in the four-month campaign that determined the fate of Atlanta during the Civil War – as well as the February 1864 Battle of Dalton. More than 900 acres at Rocky Face Ridge have been acquired by the Whitfield County park system for permanent preservation and interpretation. Most recently, in 2016, the Trust and the county saved 301 acres which feature pristine earthworks and a continuous entrenchment running 2,000 feet. The award is named after Carrington Williams, the first chairman of the Civil War Trust.
Brian Pohanka Preservation Organization Award: The Trust presented the Preservation Organization Award to the Friends of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. The award was accepted by the organization’s president, Dr. Anthony Hodges. Founded in 1986, the Friends of Chickamauga and Chattanooga was one of the first groups formed to support a national military park. The Trust has saved 141 acres at the Chickamauga battlefield and 106 acres at Chattanooga, much of which could not have been accomplished without the continued dedication of a local friends group. The award is named for the late Brian Pohanka, an outstanding historian and one of the founders of the modern battlefield preservation movement.
National Park Service Preservation Advocate Award: The Trust presented the National Park Service Preservation Advocate Award to Jim Ogden. Jim has worked as the staff historian of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park since 1988, and is widely regarded as an expert in the Western Theater of the Civil War. Throughout his time as staff historian, Jim has conducted in-depth analyses of the park’s historical military events and worked to preserve the history of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga areas.
The Civil War Trust is a national nonprofit land preservation organization devoted to the protection of America’s hallowed battlegrounds. Although primarily focused on the acquisition 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 46,000 acres of battlefield land in 24 states. Learn more at 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.