(Washington, D.C.) - The Civil War Trust today announced a trio of battlefield preservation victories across Virginia — from Cedar Mountain in Culpeper County to Gaines’ Mill and Cold Harbor in Hanover County, just outside Richmond.
The national nonprofit group added significantly to the 514 acres it had already saved at the three sites, for a grand total of more than 900 acres of hallowed ground.
“The Civil War Trust has built on its previous successes at these three Virginia battlefields,” Trust President Jim Lighthizer said. “We continue to seize opportunities to honor Civil War soldiers’ memories by saving the land where they sacrificed everything for us.”
At least 32,000 Americans were killed, wounded or went missing at the three battlegrounds.
Cannons guard the old Culpeper Road on the Cedar Mountain battlefield in Culpeper County, Virginia.
At Cedar Mountain, a 333-acre conservation easement secured by the Land Trust of Virginia in collaboration with the Civil War Trust on the battlefield’s eastern flank was the site of a major Union artillery platform during the August 9, 1862, battle. It also was the scene of a late, rearguard action that enabled part of the Union army to escape.
This preservation success triples the acreage saved at Cedar Mountain, and protects ground along U.S. 15 where the Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield already welcomes visitors and provides on-site assistance. On Aug. 5 and 6, the friends group will host living history activities commemorating the battle’s 155th anniversary.
At Gaines’ Mill, the Trust has saved an eight-acre portion of Griffin’s Woods, which dominated the battlefield’s center and figured in the charge that broke the Union line on June 27, 1862. Its acquisition adds another link to the growing assemblage of land the Trust has protected at Gaines’ Mill over the past five years.
Robert E. Lee’s first major victory of the Civil War resulted from the successful Confederate assault at Gaines’ Mill. Made by about 40,000 soldiers late in a day of brutal fighting, it was the biggest charge of the Civil War — three times the size of Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg and two times larger than the Confederate assault at Franklin. At the time, Gaines’ Mill was the second deadliest battle in American history, after Shiloh.
The Battles of Gaines’ Mill in 1862 and Cold Harbor in 1864 were fought on much of the same ground, doubling the impact of the Trust’s preservation action there.
At Cold Harbor, the Trust has saved 50 acres inclusive of Fletcher’s Redoubt, a large Union fort that still stands in the woods. This ground also holds a trace of what is believed to be the wartime road trod by 30,000 men under Confederate Generals D.H. Hill and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson to reach the Gaines’ Mill battlefield in 1862. The site was a few hundred feet behind the center of the Confederate line during the Battle of Cold Harbor.
The Civil War Trust will transfer the parcels at Cold Harbor and Gaines’ Mill to Richmond National Battlefield Park. The tracts lie within the congressionally authorized boundary of the park.
These latest victories would not have been possible without the support of the Trust’s partners at the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Richmond National Battlefield Park, the Land Trust of Virginia and Friends of Cedar Mountain Battlefield.
The Civil War Trust is the premier 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 46,000 acres of battlefield land in 24 states, including 24,359 acres in Virginia.
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.