(Washington, D.C.) - The cause of battlefield preservation took great strides forward in 2014, as the Civil War Trust, America's premier battlefield preservation organization, announced several landmark projects, and laid the groundwork for continued success beyond the conclusion of the national Civil War sesquicentennial commemoration. Through the generosity of individual donors, coupled with strategic partnerships with government officials and nonprofit groups across the country, the Trust protected more than 2,300 acres of battlefield land in 2014, eclipsing 40,000 total acres saved by the organization at 122 historic sites in 20 states.
"A generation from now, I believe that 2014 will be remembered as the year when the conceivable scope of battlefield preservation exploded," remarked Trust president James Lighthizer. "This was the year that we demonstrated, in multiple ways, the tremendous level of public support for protection of hallowed ground as outdoor classrooms and living memorials to the sacrifices of America's military."
Working closely in cooperation with willing landowners and preservation partners, the Trust completed 45 transactions at 26 individual battlefields in 10 states. The battlefields where land was preserved in 2014: Appomattox Court House, Va.; Bentonville, N.C.; Brandy Station, Va.; Cedar Creek, Va.; Cold Harbor, Va.; Davis Bridge, Tenn.; Franklin, Tenn.; Gettysburg, Pa.; Glendale, Va.; Glorieta Pass, N.M.; Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; Kelly's Ford, Va.; Mansfield, La.; Mill Springs, Ky.; North Anna, Va.; Petersburg, Va.; Port Republic, Va.; Rappahannock Station, Va.; Reams Station, Va.; Richmond, Ky.; Shepherdstown, W.Va.; Shiloh, Tenn.; South Mountain, Md.; Stones River, Tenn.; Trevilian Station, Va.; and Vicksburg, Miss.
With the October closing of the 654-acre historic Fontaine Farm at North Anna - a property encompassing nearly the entire scene of combat on May 23, 1864 - the Trust surpassed 40,000 acres saved in the organization's history. In November, the Trust embarked on a large preservation opportunity at Chancellorsville, seeking to raise nearly $500,000 to save 479 acres associated with Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's flank attack. Facilitating these types of landmark transactions was the Trust's ongoing sesquicentennial fundraising effort, Campaign 150, which, in April, met its original $40 million goal before being extended to an unprecedented $50 million target.
Proving that acreage is not the only measure of a preservation project's significance, in July, the Trust announced a $5.5 million national fundraising campaign to save 4.1 acres in Gettysburg, Pa. The property played a key role in combat on July 1, 1863, and includes several historic buildings - most notably the Mary Thompson House, used throughout the remainder of the battle as Gen. Robert E. Lee's headquarters.
The most significant developments in battlefield preservation during 2014 came near the year's close. On Veterans Day, the Trust announced the launch of Campaign 1776, www.campaign1776.org, the first-ever national initiative to preserve and interpret the battlefields of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The new effort's first project involves assisting the State of New Jersey in the protection of four acres on the Princeton Battlefield, scene of George Washington's first victory over British forces on January 3, 1777. Campaign 1776 received a major boost on December 12, when Congress passed legislation to extend federal matching grants for battlefield protection through 2021 and, for the first time, make sites from other conflicts eligible for what had previously been a Civil War-only program.
"The extension of this grant program mirrors our reasoning for the creation of Campaign 1776," said Trust president James Lighthizer. "All of these American battlefields are sacred places - living memorials to this nation's brave soldiers, past, present and future - and it is up to us to ensure their protection."
The Trust's preservation success in 2014 would not have been possible without the dedication of Trust partners, including: American Battlefield Protection Program, National Park Service, Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site, City of Franklin (TN), County of Chesterfield (VA) Parks and Recreation, Department of Agriculture Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission, Kentucky Heritage Council, Madison County (KY) Fiscal Court, Louisiana Office of State Parks, Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Municipality of Princeton (NJ), New Jersey State Parks, Forests and Historic Sites, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs-Historic Preservation Division, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission-Bureau for Historic Preservation, 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: Averasboro Battlefield Commission, Battle of Richmond Association, Brandy Station Foundation, Franklin's Charge, Central Maryland Heritage League, Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, Friends of Shiloh National Military Park, Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, Gettysburg Foundation, Glorieta Battlefield Preservation Society, Journey Through Hallowed Ground, Land Conservancy of Adams County, Land Trust for Tennessee, Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle, Manassas Battlefield Trust, Maryland Environmental Trust, Maryland Historical Trust, Mill Springs Battlefield Association, National Parks Conservation Association, New Mexico Land Conservancy, Piedmont Environmental Council, Princeton Battlefield Society, Richmond Battlefields Association, Save Historic Antietam Foundation, Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Silver Companies, Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association, Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation and Wallace Foundation.
"These are among the generous 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 2014, the group's flagship website, www.civilwar.org, received more than 5.8 million unique visits - an increase of 30 percent from 2013. A popular new online feature was the War Department video series, an ongoing effort designed to move past lists of names and dates, encouraging viewers to analyze the broader impact of historical events. Classroom educators benefited from two new Trust programs: the Teachers Regiment, a virtual community of classroom educators, museum professionals, librarians, tour guides and other public historians eager to raise the level of history instruction nationwide; and the Field Trip Fund, a scholarship fund to assist teachers in planning and paying for student trips to historic sites.
The Trust also continues to earn accolades for its sound fiscal management and commitment to top-notch donor relations, renewing its Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance accreditation and receiving a prestigious Top-Rated Award by GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews about nonprofit organizations. In addition, the Trust maintained its 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America's leading charity evaluator, for a fifth straight year - an honor bestowed on only four percent of charities assessed by that organization. Further, the Trust's membership magazine, Hallowed Ground, again earned top honors for outstanding quality through the APEX Awards for Publication Excellence - its sixth-consecutive Grand Award.
The Civil War Trust is the largest and most effective nonprofit organization devoted to the preservation of America's hallowed battlegrounds. Although primarily focused on the protection 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 40,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Learn more at www.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.