(Fredericksburg, Va.) – The Civil War Trust today declared victory on a 25-acre property associated with the historic 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg, the first preservation opportunity the Trust has had in Fredericksburg in nearly eight years. With the addition of these 25 acres, the Trust has helped save almost 250 acres at Fredericksburg, one of the defining conflicts of the Civil War.
Lee Garrison, a builder with approvals to construct 98 townhomes on the property, agreed to sell the land to the Trust for well below the appraised value of $2.59 million. In addition to this donation from Garrison, the site was acquired from funding sources including a $100,000 Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund grant secured by the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program, and a major gift from a husband and wife who are among the Trust’s most dedicated and generous supporters. The remaining funds, totaling a little over $100,000, were raised from donations by Trust members during a campaign announced in January 2016.
“With our success today, this crucial land is protected forever from the development creeping up all around the Fredericksburg battlefield,” said Trust President James Lighthizer. “This project is a sterling example of what we can accomplish when a preservation-minded landowner, local partners and Trust supporters work together to save hallowed ground.”
The property runs adjacent to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, and will create a clear path along the Union attack line at the southern end of the battlefield — from Pelham’s Corner, to the stone Meade Pyramid Monument in the park, to the Slaughter Pen Farm site also owned by the Trust. On the site, Union Gen. George Gordon Meade briefly broke through Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s lines; had Federal reinforcements entered the battle at this critical moment, the outcome at Fredericksburg may have been different.
On November 14, 1862, Union Gen. Ambrose Burnside sent a corps to occupy the vicinity of Falmouth near Fredericksburg. The rest of the army soon followed. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee reacted by entrenching his army on the heights behind the town. On December 11, Union engineers laid five pontoon bridges across the Rappahannock River while under fire. Their army crossed the river the following day, and on December 13, Burnside mounted a series of futile frontal assaults on Prospect Hill and Marye’s Heights that resulted in staggering casualties. Meade’s division, on the Union left flank, briefly penetrated Jackson’s line on the property acquired by the Trust but was driven back by a counterattack. On December 15, Burnside called off the offensive and recrossed the river, ending the campaign.
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 43,000 acres of battlefield land in 23 states.
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.