Williamsburg, Va. (March 24, 2015) - At a news conference today, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe joined Anheuser-Busch and the Civil War Trust to announce the protection of 65 acres of core battlefield land associated with the Civil War Battle of Williamsburg. The property, which is being donated to the Civil War Trust by the Anheuser-Busch Foundation, is the largest part of the Williamsburg Battlefield ever set aside for preservation.
"It's another great example of how the Commonwealth of Virginia, working with private groups like Anheuser-Busch and the Civil War Trust, is leading the way in preserving its Civil War battlefields as living reminders of the tragedy of that war and the bravery on both sides," McAuliffe said.
"A well-preserved battlefield not only adds to our historic legacy, it's an economic engine for heritage tourism," the governor said. "And it benefits the environment, saving valuable open space and preserving diverse habitats. The generous donation of this property by Anheuser-Busch is a welcome new chapter in this ongoing preservation success story."
The Governor was introduced by Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. Ward noted the importance of preserved battlefields as heritage tourist destinations. According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation, heritage tourists visiting the Old Dominion spend more money and stay longer on average than typical tourists to the Commonwealth - $671 vs. $421, and 4.2 nights vs. 3.8 nights, per trip.
The 65-acre parcel, located northeast of Interstate I-64, was originally part of Anheuser-Busch's former Busch Gardens property. The site played a pivotal role in fighting on May 5, 1862, and is the only part of the afternoon phase of the battlefield currently protected from development. The Civil War Trust foresees the property become the anchor for a future Williamsburg Battlefield Park. In the meantime, it will be stewarded by the Williamsburg Land Conservancy, a local land trust.
"The hallowed grounds in Williamsburg echo this country's history and should be protected. As a long-time member of the Williamsburg community and supporter of our country's military, Anheuser-Busch is honored that this partnership resulted in the opportunity to preserve sacred lands for future generations," said Rick Shippey, Senior General Manager of Anheuser-Buschâ€™s Williamsburg Brewery.
In his remarks, Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer thanked Anheuser-Busch for its generosity in making the property available for battlefield preservation. "In making this donation, Anheuser-Busch continues its longstanding tradition of supporting America's history and military heritage," Lighthizer noted. "It is, by far, the biggest save yet at Williamsburg."
Anheuser-Busch has operated a brewery in Williamsburg since 1972, producing its flagship Budweiser and Bud Light, as well as other brands including Michelob ULTRA, Busch and Shock Top. The company's founders, Adolphus Busch and his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser, served in the Union Army during the Civil War as members of the Missouri Volunteers.
The Battle of Williamsburg
The Battle of Williamsburg, fought on May 5, 1862, was the first pitched battle of the Peninsula Campaign as more than 40,000 troops of the Union Army of the Potomac under the command of Gen. George B. McClellan engaged almost 32,000 Confederates commanded by Gen. James Longstreet.
As the Confederates retreated from Yorktown following the month-long siege there by the Union Army, a federal division under Gen. Joseph Hooker pursued, colliding with the Confederate rearguard near Williamsburg. Hooker's troops attacked the Confederates holding Fort Magruder, an earthen fortification along the Williamsburg Road, but were driven back.
Longstreet then countered with attacks of his own that threatened the Union left flank. After Union Gen. Philip Kearny arrived with his division to reinforce the position, another Union brigade attacked the Confederate left flank and occupied two abandoned redoubts. The Confederates counterattacked, but could not dislodge the Union troops. The battle ended indecisively and the Confederates resumed their withdrawal during the night.
The battle inflicted an estimated 2,283 Union casualties and 1,560 Confederate casualties.
About the Civil War Trust
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, including 21,900 in the Old Dominion. Learn more at www.civilwar.org.
For more than 160 years, Anheuser-Busch and its world-class brewmasters have carried on a legacy of brewing America's most popular beers. Starting with the finest ingredients sourced from Anheuser-Busch's family of growers, every batch is crafted using the same exacting standards and time-honored traditions passed down through generations of proud Anheuser-Busch brewmasters and employees. Best known for its fine American-style lagers, Budweiser and Bud Light, the company's beers lead numerous beer segments and combined hold 46.4 percent share of the U.S. beer market. Anheuser-Busch is the U.S. arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev and operates 15 breweries, 17 distributorships and 23 agricultural and packaging facilities across the United States. Its flagship brewery remains in St. Louis and is among the global company's largest and most technologically capable breweries. This year the Anheuser-Busch Foundation celebrates 40 years of contributing to communities across the country. For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com.
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.