(Culpeper, Va.) – More than two years after initially announcing the opportunity, the American Battlefield Trust has completed the final, critical step in protecting 12.44 critical acres — part of a larger, 200-acre acquisition project — along the Rappahannock River. This step paves the way for recreational water access at a potential new state park currently being evaluated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. In placing conservation easements through the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) and Department of Historic Resources (DHR) on the property, the Trust has ensured that this pristine landscape is protected in perpetuity. Critical funding for the full $1.8 million project was provided by the federal American Battlefield Protection Program and Commonwealth matching grants — from the Virginia Land Conservation Fund, Virginia Outdoors Foundation, and Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund — as well as a landowner donation.
“The completion of this project is cause for celebration on multiple fronts,” said Trust President Jim Lighthizer. “Important historic ground is protected, recreational opportunities for the community are expanded. Truly, this effort shows the power of partnerships in the conservation community – by coming together behind a singular vision, our coalition of federal and state agencies, plus nonprofit organizations and private donors – have made a lasting impact beyond what any of us might have achieved alone.”
VOF Executive Director Brett Glymph agreed, adding, “Access to the outdoors is vitally important to our quality of life and the health of our communities. The efforts of the Trust and its partners on this project will pay dividends for generations to come.”
The entire 200-acre project represents two properties acquired from local businessman Bob Currier, whose family has owned the land since 1878. Currier chose to sell the Trust a 12-acre commercially zoned property situated on Route 29 and with some 5,000 feet of river frontage, and donate a larger, 187-acre property nearby. Both tracts saw fighting in the First (August 22–25, 1862) and Second (November 7, 1863) Battles of Rappahannock Station, the wartime name for the modern town of Remington. The riverside property features extant entrenchments and a roadbed dating to the Revolutionary War-era. During the Civil War, the Rappahannock River formed a natural barrier between Union territory to the north in Fauquier County and Confederate territory in Culpeper to the South, leading to repeated clashes across the region.
Since 1987, the American Battlefield Trust has protected a total of 4,896 acres at the battlefields of Brandy Station, Cedar Mountain, Kelly’s Ford and Rappahannock Station. Recognizing the tremendous historic significance of this land, since 2015, a coalition led by the Trust — now shepherded locally by the recently launched umbrella group Friends of Culpeper Battlefields™ —, has worked to advocate for a new Virginia State Park to be created encompassing these sites. In doing so, the Trust and Brandy Station Foundation would convey nearly all of their holdings to the Commonwealth to create a turnkey park. Earlier this year, the General Assembly tasked the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation with conducting a study to assess the “management,” “potential user activities at” and “operation of” such a park and issue recommendations regarding its viability
The Trust has now protected 869 acres at Rappahannock Station on both sides of the Rappahannock River. The first battle fought in the area, in late August 1862 helped set the stage for the climactic battle of the Northern Virginia Campaign, just a few days later at Second Manassas; some 225 casualties were recorded in that action, which had inconclusive results. The Second Battle of Rappahannock Station, giving the Union a decisive victory as the final chapter of the Bristoe Campaign in November 1863, saw far more casualties despite its shorter duration. In that engagement, there were approximately 2,000 total casualties – 1,600 of them captured when a dusk attack overran the Confederate bridgehead. The Union army advanced across the Rappahannock River and established winter quarters around Brandy Station, forcing the Confederates back into Orange County.
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 52,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.