(Brandy Station, Va.) – The Civil War Trust, America’s largest nonprofit battlefield preservation group, today announced that it has successfully completed a $3.6 million national fundraising campaign to preserve 56 acres of historic Fleetwood Hill on the Brandy Station Battlefield in Culpeper County, Va., site of the largest cavalry battle ever fought on the North American continent. In celebrating the success of this project, one of five most ambitious in the organization’s history, Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer issued the following statement:
“This is a day that those of us in the preservation community have long dreamt of, the day we can finally say that Fleetwood Hill is protected forever. Prior to this, the Trust and its partners had protected some 1,800 acres at Brandy Station, but without those crowning heights set aside for future generations, no visitor could gain a full and definitive understanding of this critical action. Now that we have raised the full purchase price and closed on this property, the heart and soul of the Brandy Station Battlefield, we have turned a preservation success story into a triumph.
“This achievement simply would not have been possible without the cooperation of the entire battlefield preservation community — particularly the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground and the Brandy Station Foundation, whose assistance, both advisory and financial, has been indispensable. Moreover, the enthusiastic support of the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program and the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Civil War Sites Preservation Fund has meant the difference between dream and reality. Without the vital matching grants supplied by these two programs, an undertaking of this scale would have been all but insurmountable.
“I also offer my heartfelt thanks to each individual who contributed to this effort. The outpouring of support that the Trust received toward this project, illustrating the number of Americans who firmly believe in the respect and protection of our shared history, has been inspirational. Much work remains on this tract, as we lay the groundwork to remove modern structures and restore the land to its wartime appearance, but I know that all of our members and allies join me today in celebrating this tremendous achievement.”
The Battle of Brandy Station is considered by historians as the beginning of the momentous Gettysburg Campaign. Union cavalry, long considered inferior to their Confederate counter parts, launched a bold crossing of the Rappahannock River in the early hours of June 9, 1863. They initially surprised the Southern horsemen, with charge and countercharge raging across the landscape for much of the day before the Federals retired back across the river. All told, more than 20,000 cavalrymen fought at Brandy Station. The epicenter of the fighting was Fleetwood Hill, which overlooked much of the battlefield and served as headquarters for Confederate chieftain, General James Ewell Brown “J.E.B.” Stuart. Historian and preservation advocate Clark “Bud” Hall calls Fleetwood Hill “without question the most fought over, camped upon and marched over real estate in the entire United States. Cumulatively, the Civil War Trust has protected more than 1,850 acres at Brandy Station and maintains a public interpretive trail across the battlefield.
The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. To date, it has preserved more than 36,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states, including nearly 18,500 in Virginia. Learn more at www.civilwar.org, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.