(Richmond, Va.) —Today Richmond National Battlefield Park announced that it has acquired 251 acres at the heart of the Glendale Civil War battlefield from the Civil War Trust, the nation’s premier private Civil War battlefield preservation organization. The acquisition more than doubles the park’s holdings at Glendale, bringing the total park acreage at that battlefield to 394. Glendale is located in Henrico County, approximately 11 miles southeast of downtown Richmond.
In addition, other Glendale acquisition projects currently underway by the Trust would eventually add more than 150 additional acres to the preserved area.
“There is no stronger legacy of the Civil War sesquicentennial,” said park superintendent David Ruth. “Preserving the land where so many Americans fought and died is one of the most important outcomes of this commemoration. We are grateful to the Civil War Trust for their extraordinary work and we look forward to working with Henrico County and our neighbors to make this incomparable historic landscape accessible to visitors and a strong asset for the community.”
Although the Battle of Glendale was one the largest in Virginia, little of it had been preserved until recently, so the result of the acquisition is a virtually “brand new” Civil War battlefield. The new land gives the park a swath of preserved battlefield that extends for three contiguous miles, from the upper end of the Glendale battlefield to the lower end of the Malvern Hill battlefield. Those two battles, fought on consecutive days, were separated only by an overnight lull on June 30 – July 1, 1862. Glendale and Malvern Hill are now two of the best-preserved Civil War battlefields in all of Virginia, a significant legacy of the Sesquicentennial commemoration.
The 1862 Battle of Glendale
Known in the South as Frayser’s Farm and sometimes called the Battle of Nelson’s Farm or Charles City Crossroads, the June 30, 1862, Battle of Glendale was the penultimate of the series of battles known as the Seven Days. Union Gen. George B. McClellan’s army—numbering more than 100,000—was nearing the end of its retreat that week, which took it from the outskirts of Richmond to a new position on the James River. Robert E. Lee designed his pursuit to cut off the Union retreat, hoping to interdict the Union columns and win by dividing and conquering. The Confederates’ attempts were unsuccessful and some historians argue that the battle at Glendale was one of Lee’s best opportunities during the Civil War to win a comprehensive, war-changing victory.
With this new acquisition, Richmond National Battlefield Park now owns the spot where Union Gen. George G. Meade (later commander of the entire Union army in Virginia) was wounded. The park also owns the land where all 16 of the Union cannon were captured during the battle, where all of the hand-to-hand fighting took place, where Virginia’s future governor James L. Kemper led his Virginians in a costly charge, and where determined men from Michigan, Massachusetts and New York launched a desperate counterattack to blunt the Confederate breakthrough.
Preserving the Land
All of the Glendale battlefield remained private property until the 1990s. For the first 140 years after the war, it was impossible for anyone interested in the battle to set foot on the battlefield, and the permanent fate of the historic land was uncertain.
For the last 50 years, several generations of local families were responsible stewards of a large part of the battlefield. Their commitment to the integrity of the landscape made the land still worth saving. The work of interested historians and preservationists in the 1990s set preservation in motion, but it would have meant little without the willingness of land owners to work with Civil War groups to get the battlefield protected.
In the 1990s, the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites—now the Civil War Trust—preserved the southern tip of the battlefield. Then, in the early 2000s, the Trust purchased all of this land in separate installments, using innovative funding sources and with the enthusiastic support of its more than 50,000 members.
“The successful preservation of this battlefield has been possible thanks to the cooperation and partnership of numerous individuals and entities,” said Trust president James Lighthizer. “The remarkable integrity and pristine condition of this land is a testament both to the landowners of generations past, who safeguarded this historic landscape, and to the more recent residents who made the important decision to see this land become the property of the American people. The Civil War Trust is honored to have been a part of this process.”
Future Public Access
The Glendale battlefield has long been familiar to students of the conflict, but was a place heretofore inaccessible. With this acquisition, the prospects for an integrated visitor experience addressing the final two of the Seven Days battles are outstanding. While planning for the long-term preservation and restoration of the newly-acquired land, Richmond National Battlefield Park is developing short-term strategies for making the land publicly accessible, including special walking tours and other programs.
Note to editors: Tours or photos of the land are available to members of the media upon request.
About Richmond National Battlefield Park
Richmond National Battlefield Park is one of 401 national parks across the United States. Glendale is one of the park’s 13 Civil War sites in Hanover, Henrico and Chesterfield counties and the city of Richmond. Experiencing the park’s historic sites and five visitor centers usually takes a full day. A driving tour of the battlefields is available at any of the park’s facilities. The main park visitor center is located at Historic Tredegar (470 Tredegar Street in Richmond) and provides museum exhibits, audio-visual programs and orientation services to help plan a visit to the battlefields. For additional information, contact Richmond National Battlefield Park at 804-226-1981, or via the internet at www.nps.gov/rich or www.Facebook.com/RichmondNPS.