(Washington, D.C.) - In a year when Americans commemorated the 150th anniversary of some of the most momentous battles of the Civil War, the Civil War Trust continued its crusade to preserve the nation's most significant hallowed ground. Thanks to the generosity of its nearly 200,000 members and supporters, coupled with its strategic partnerships with government officials and nonprofit groups throughout the nation, the Trust protected more than 2,700 acres of battlefield land in 2013. This brings the total acreage saved by the organization to 38,500 acres at 122 historic sites in 20 states.
"Without a doubt, 2013 will long be remembered as one of the most exciting years in the history of battlefield preservation," Trust president James Lighthizer said. "Thanks to the steadfast dedication of our members, friends and partners, we have protected 2,700 acres of the most hallowed ground in America. It is a proud legacy of the Civil War sesquicentennial commemoration that will be enjoyed for many generations to come."
Working closely in cooperation with willing landowners and preservation partners, the Trust completed 47 transactions at 30 individual battlefields in 10 states. The battlefields where land was preserved in 2013: Antietam, Md.; Ball's Bluff, Va.; Bentonville, N.C.; Brandy Station, Va.; Brice's Crossroads, Miss.; Cedar Mountain, Va.; Chancellorsville, Va.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Chickamauga, Ga.; Cold Harbor, Va.; Cool Spring, Va.; Deep Bottom, Va.; Fort Donelson, Tenn.; Gettysburg, Pa.; Glendale, Va.; Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; High Bridge, Va.; Kelly's Ford, Va.; Malvern Hill, Va.; Peeble's Farm, Va.; Perryville, Ky.; Rappahannock Station, Va.; Sailor's Creek, Va.; Second Manassas, Va.; Shepherdstown, W.Va.; South Mountain, Md.; Totopotomoy Creek, Va.; Vicksburg, Miss.; White Oak Road, Va.; Wilson's Creek, Mo.
Particularly exciting was the acquisition of two properties targeted for decades by the battlefield preservation community. In February, the Trust and Franklin's Charge announced the preservation of the Dominos strip center in Franklin, Tenn., the centerpiece of a three-year campaign that included multiple parcels and fundraising totaling more than $3.2 million. A few months later, in August, the Trust announced it had successfully completed a $3.6 million national fundraising campaign to preserve 56 acres atop historic Fleetwood Hill on the Brandy Station Battlefield in Virginia. These two campaigns were among the most ambitious in the organization's history.
Throughout the year, the Trust strove to coordinate preservation initiatives with the ongoing 150th anniversary commemoration of the Civil War. Most notably, the Trust protected 109 acres at Reed's Bridge, the site of the opening clash of the Battle of Chickamauga, in a campaign that coincided with the battle's sesquicentennial. This success at Chickamauga was announced during the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission's October 2013 signature event.
These 2,700 acres of hallowed ground preserved in 2013 would not have been saved without the dedication of Trust partners: American Battlefield Protection Program, National Park Service, Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site, Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site, Tennessee Historical Commission, Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Tennessee Department of Transportation, 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 Brandy Station Foundation, Brice's Crossroads National Battlefield Commission, Cedar Mountain Stone, CFC Farm Center, Culpeper Wood Preservers , Franklin's Charge, Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield, Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign, Georgia Battlefields Association, Georgia Piedmont Land Trust, Historic Polegreen Church Foundation, Journey Through Hallowed Ground , Kipps Nursery, Land Conservancy of Adams County, Land Trust for Tennessee, Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle, Lyndhurst Foundation of Chattanooga, Maryland Environmental Trust, Maryland Historical Trust, Mill Springs Battlefield Association, National Parks Conservation Association, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, Piedmont Environmental Council, Richmond Battlefields Association, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association, Shenandoah University, Williams Family Foundation of Georgia and Wilson's Creek National Battlefield Foundation.
"These are selfless individuals and organizations who continue to stand by the Trust and our members - year in and year out - to save America's hallowed ground," Lighthizer said. "Our job would be a whole lot harder without the tireless efforts of these leaders, along with many of our elected officials who fight - tooth and nail - for programs essential to our efforts."
In addition to its land acquisition successes, the Trust continues promoting greater appreciation and understanding of the Civil War through its innovative educational programs and digital offerings. In 2013, the group's flagship website, www.civilwar.org, received more than 4.5 million unique visits - an increase of 83 percent from 2012. Moreover, fans of the Trust's Facebook page increased by 30 percent to more than 181,000 users.
Building on the momentum of the ongoing commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, the Trust introduced several interactive offerings highlighting battles and events commemorating 150th anniversaries in 2013. Over the course of the year, the Trust debuted 360 degree panoramic tours of the Gettysburg and Chattanooga battlefields, which are available via www.civilwar.org/360. The organization also released three additions to its Battle App® series that provide GPS-enabled, multimedia smartphone tours of Vicksburg, Gettysburg and Appomattox. More than 200,000 users downloaded one of these products in 2013. In addition, the Trust unveiled the Civil War In4 web series and launched a new website that provides a fresh perspective on America's most famous speech: "Behind the Scenes: Lincoln's Gettysburg Address."
During 2013, the Trust received a variety of awards and recognitions for its work. In July, its membership magazine, Hallowed Ground, again earned top honors for outstanding quality through the APEX Awards for Publication Excellence - its fifth-consecutive Grand Award. The organization also continued to earn accolades for its sound fiscal management and commitment to top-notch donor relations, receiving a prestigious 2013 Top-Rated Award by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofit organizations. In addition, Charity Navigator, America's leading charity evaluator, awarded the Trust its fifth-consecutive 4-star rating, an honor bestowed on only four percent of charities assessed by the organization.
"This was a truly remarkable year for the Trust, but I would be remiss if I did not remark on the tremendous loss of our friend, former chairman and a beacon in the battlefield preservation movement, Henry Simpson," Lighthizer said. "First and foremost, Henry was my friend. He was a born leader who motivated and inspired a new generation of battlefield preservationists. Henry will be sorely missed, but with the guidance of our new chairman, Michael Grainger, we will honor his service and his memory by preserving even more of America's hallowed ground in the coming year."