(Washington, D.C.) - Less than three years after announcing it amid the early days of the Civil War's sesquicentennial commemoration, the Civil War Trust has successfully completed the initially stated fundraising goal of Campaign 150: Our Time, Our Legacy. After reaching its $40 million target well more than a year early, the nation's largest battlefield preservation group has issued a new "stretch goal" for the effort, looking to raise an additional $10 million toward the permanent protection of the nation's endangered hallowed ground. The undertaking is the largest-ever fundraising project undertaken by an American heritage land preservation group.
"We are exceedingly grateful to every individual who has contributed to our efforts thus far. But we also know that there is much more work left to do and no better time to do it than during this sesquicentennial anniversary," said Trust president James Lighthizer. "That's why rather than simply declare victory and rest on our laurels, we are setting ours sights even higher - to an unprecedented $50 million."
In the summer of 2011, the Civil War Trust announced a truly ambitious goal: to raise $40 million during the Civil War sesquicentennial, enabling the organization to maximize the amount of land preserved as a permanent legacy of the commemoration and to use technology to revolutionize the realm of battlefield interpretation.
"Thanks to the active support of 200,000 Americans, we have been able to translate increased public awareness of the Civil War during this anniversary period into tangible achievements that will stand the test of time," said Campaign 150 chairman and Trust board member Jeffery Rodek. "Our emphasis on education has laid the groundwork for a new generation of historians and preservationists who, as adults during the Civil War bicentennial, will take their own children to visit the landscapes we are now working to safeguard."
Since its inception, the campaign has proven transformative for the organization, allowing it to take on many of the most ambitious and important preservation projects in its history. The group quadrupled the amount of land protected at Gaines' Mill, the largest of the Seven Days' Battles around Richmond in the summer of 1862, and saved virtually the entire battlefield at Fallen Timbers, the final act of fighting at Shiloh, Tenn. Additionally, the increased capacity allowed the Trust to seize the opportunity to capture its first preservation victories at Chickamauga and Vicksburg, and to save the heights Fleetwood Hill at Brandy Station, among many other key battlefield locations. Continuing Campaign 150 will provide the opportunity for the Trust to pursue more landmark acquisition projects and propel the organization toward an all-time mark of 40,000 acres saved.
Simultaneously, the Trust made significant progress in its efforts to educate the public about the history of the Civil War and its relevance in shaping the American consciousness, in the classroom, in print and online. With more than 200,000 people experiencing its state-of-the-art digital interpretive products, like Battle App guides, 360° panoramas and animated maps, the Trust is well on its way to marrying 21st-century technology with 19th-century history like never before. Extending the campaign will further enable these types of innovative educational offerings to be made available to the public absolutely free of charge.
"We know that reaching this new milestone will be a tremendous challenge," said Lighthizer. "But we believe we owe it to the brave men and women who have answered this nation's call to service to push forward. After all, a preserved battlefield is a living monument - not just to those who fell at that specific site, but all our fallen heroes - where future generations will learn the values that have always shaped our nation."
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 38,500 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Learn more at www.civilwar.org, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.