Nonprofit Launches Campaign to Protect and Interpret Three Revolutionary War Battlefields
Colleen Cheslak-Poulton, (202) 367-1861 x7234
(Princeton, N.J.) — The American Battlefield Trust has launched a campaign to save 261 acres of Revolutionary War battlefield land in New York and South Carolina, plus launch a project to uplift the underutilized Princeton Battlefield State Park (N.J.) through landscape rehabilitation and expanded interpretive experiences. As the scene of the climactic victory in General George Washington’s Ten Crucial Days Campaign in January 1777, Princeton carries a special significance when studying America’s path to independence. The nonprofit’s current campaign calls on donors to pay homage to the Revolutionary era and aid in raising $171,750, with every dollar donated matched tenfold thanks to public and private grants.
“On the eve of the 250th anniversary of the nation’s founding, understanding our history is more important than ever before,” said Trust President David Duncan. “This latest Revolutionary era endeavor will push us toward our goal to preserve 2,500 acres of battlefield land from that conflict during the anniversary period. It will also provide a springboard to unite recently preserved parcels with existing park lands in the last great growth the Princeton Battlefield will ever experience.”
After saving 15 acres of the Princeton Battlefield at Maxwell’s Field, where George Washington rallied his troops and led a game-changing counterattack, the Trust began contemplating how that land could best be incorporated into the existing state park. Thus, a collaborative plan — deemed “Washington's Legacy” — was created to reinvigorate the interpretive and educational experience at the National Historic Landmark site and integrate the newly protected areas into the existing parkland in time for the 250th anniversary of the 1777 battle.
Putting “Washington’s Legacy” into motion will transport future visitors to the 1777 wartime landscape. The Trust is working alongside New Jersey State Historic Sites and Parks and the Princeton Battlefield Society toward impactful enhancements, including the installation of a walking path, replanting of an orchard near where the William Clarke House once stood, the restoration of historic tree lines, the removal of 20th-century intrusions, and more. Additionally, a new suite of interpretive methods consisting of digital tools and fresh signage will complement restored acreage. Donations to the new campaign will augment grants from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, State-sponsored funding, as well as other state and private grants.
“Visitors will get to walk the same pathways that Washington and his men took 250 years ago,” said Will Krakower, resource interpretive specialist at Princeton Battlefield State Park. “They'll get to survey the grounds and see in their mind’s eye what it would have been like to witness hundreds of British troops on the hill opposite them. They'll march over the same ground, stand on battle lines, charge through the recreated apple orchard — it's going to be an amazing experience.”
The preservation opportunities attached to the Revolutionary era fundraising campaign consist of a roughly 260-acre property at the Newtown Battlefield in Elmira, N.Y., and two small parcels totaling just over one acre at the Hobkirk Hill Battlefield in Camden, S.C. While the hallowed ground in New York provides insight into Iroquois involvement in the Revolutionary War, the southern parcels speak to the unrelenting Patriot spirit that started to turn the tide of the conflict in the south. Both efforts are being supported by federal and state assistance.
Moving the Trust closer to its goal of preserving 2,500 acres of Revolutionary War battlefield land by the end of the 250th commemoration of the Revolutionary War, the Trust’s recent Revolutionary undertaking is expanded upon at www.battlefields.org/261RevWarAcres.
The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 57,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War across 155 sites in 25 states. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.