Saved: 99 Acres Across Three Western Theater Battlefields
In adding almost 99 acres of hallowed ground at THREE Civil War battlefields to its already-robust victory portfolio, the American Battlefield Trust marked several milestones. The feat is especially gratifying for fans of the Western Theater, adding more than 22 acres at Shiloh, Tenn., and upwards of 76 acres to our tally associated with the Vicksburg Campaign — nearly 44 acres at Raymond, Miss., and just short of 33 acres at Vicksburg, Miss.
These acres carry a hefty value of approximately $1.5 million But with essential partners backing our ambitious efforts, the balance needed from Trust members went down to $553,330. As donors answered our call to bring new life to these Western Theater sites, their contributions were matched at a rate of $2.70-to-$1 — and the funds needed to ensure the protection of the battlefield land were met. Members of the organization demonstrate their dedication to protecting our nation’s hallowed ground time after time, and this effort was no exception.
The multi-part victory will enable interpreters to unleash new perspective upon visitors. Just think — the property at Shiloh will create public access to an area that witnessed part of the initial large-scale Confederate assaults made against Union camps on the morning of April 6, 1862. A benefit to today’s students — and those to follow — the context engrained in this acreage enables a fuller, more vibrant picture of life in the Civil War’s vast Western Theater.
On the morning of April 6, 1862, Confederate soldiers poured out of the nearby woods and struck a line of Union soldiers near Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River. The overpowering Confederate offensive drove the Federal forces from their camp. Fighting continued until after dark, but the Federals held. A Union counteroffensive the next morning overpowered the weakened and outnumbered Confederate forces, resulting in a Union triumph.
The Trust most recently saved another 22 acres at Shiloh, made possible with help from the American Battlefield Protection Program. Prominent in the morning actions of April 6, 1862, this site will be stewarded by the Trust until its transfer to the National Park Service.
On orders from Maj. Gen. Ulysses Grant, a Union corps under the command of Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson marched to Raymond to meet Confederate forces on May 12, 1863, and by 10:00 a.m. were three miles outside the town. As the Confederates approached, an initial Union volley caused heavy casualties, but the force of the Confederate assault buckled the Union line in places. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan rallied a force to hold the line, and heavy fighting continued for six hours before Union forces successfully turned the Confederate flank, forcing the Confederates to withdraw to Jackson through Raymond. The battle triggered a vast shift in Grant’s scheme of maneuver in the Vicksburg Campaign.
A substantial addition to the total preserved battlefield land at this crucial site, the Trust worked alongside Friends of Raymond and the American Battlefield Protection Program to secure just short of 44 acres at Raymond. The site of a major portion of the Union advance, the tract will be transferred to Friends of Raymond after a conservation easement is put in place.
To complete his vision of cutting the Confederacy in two, Grant had to capture the imposing fortress city of Vicksburg, built high on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. In the spring of 1863, Grant’s victories over the Confederates at Champion Hill and Big Black River Bridge forced Lt. Gen. John Pemberton’s army to retreat into Vicksburg. After Union assaults on May 19 and 22 were repulsed with significant losses, Grant began a siege of the city that lasted 47 grueling days. Pemberton finally surrendered on the afternoon of July 4, 1863, a day after the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg.
Boosted by the support of the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign, as well as the American Battlefield Protection Program, the Trust preserved approximately 33 acres at the Vicksburg Battlefield — a landmark achievement that completes the crucial Railroad Redoubt section of the battlefield and will transform interpretation at the park. With plans to transfer the land to the National Park Service upon a minor boundary revision, the Trust will steward this property with local support from the Friends of Vicksburg until those plans can be made a reality.