Tennessee Lawmaker Charles Sargent Recognized as Preservation Champion by American Battlefield Trust

Retiring state representative praised for his commitment to saving Tennessee’s hallowed battlegrounds and helping highlight its momentous Civil War history

(Franklin, Tennessee) — Charles Sargent, a veteran leader of the Tennessee House of Representatives, will receive the American Battlefield Trust’s State Leadership Award for his enduring contributions to battlefield preservation during more than two decades of service as a state legislator.

The honor from the Trust was announced Saturday during the national nonprofit group’s autumn Grand Review event for its members in Franklin, Tennessee, which Sargent has long represented in the statehouse. 

O. James Lighthizer, president of the Trust, which is dedicated to preserving America’s battlefields and educating the public about their unique role in our nation’s history, told attendees that the Trust would present the leadership award to Sargent.

“The Trust is pleased to present Representative Sargent with this award in grateful recognition of his leadership in helping to create the Tennessee Civil War or War Between the States Site Preservation Fund, the first program of its kind in the nation to guarantee money for Civil War site preservation each year,” Lighthizer said.

“You couldn’t ask for a better champion of historic preservation all across the Volunteer State than Charles Sargent, especially in the Franklin community, ” he said. “To cite just one example of many, he helped the Franklin battlefield’s historic Carter House get state funding for a new visitor center.”

On Nov. 30, 1864, the town of Franklin witnessed some of the heaviest fighting of the entire Civil War, with a Confederate assault that was deadlier than Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg.  The bloody assault cost the Southern army nearly 7,000 casualties, including the loss of six Confederate generals — more than were killed in any other battle of the four-year-long war.

As chairman of the state’s House Finance, Ways and Means Committee and a member of other key committees, Sargent was vital to the founding of Tennessee’s Civil War preservation fund in 2013 as well as to securing subsequent enhancements to the program.  The first fund in the nation to set aside dedicated monies to save Civil War land each year, it was inspired by the highly effective Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund.

Sargent worked closely with Deputy House Speaker Steve McDaniel, another preservation-minded lawmaker, in developing the fund.  Both men will be retiring at year’s end after decades spent serving together in the General Assembly.

Sargent began his legislative career in Franklin in 1996, in the state’s 61st District.  A native of New York, he has made the South his home for 40 years.  Upon moving to Williamson County, he became interested in politics through activism in his neighborhood homeowners association.

“We congratulate Chairman Sargent on more than 20 years of faithful service to the people of Tennessee and working with colleagues across the political spectrum to ensure a deservedly long and lasting legacy,” Lighthizer said.  “We know that he will continue to be a great advocate for historic preservation and the other causes he holds dear.”

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 50,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War, including 3,500 acres in Tennessee.  Learn more at