23 May 2011 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 8 comments

John Hennessy, who as chief historian for the Fredericksburg/Chancellorsville/Wilderness/Spotsylvania battlefield complex, knows a bit about battlefield preservation, also left a very succinct and well-put comment on the post where I described the ill-advised and wrong-headed policy declaration by the BSF. John began by quoting the BSF statement, drafted to supposedly allay our concerns that the BSF is on top of things, and then reacted to it:

“Frequently landowners are required to obtain permits before making improvements or undertaking certain agricultural activities. We view the permit process primarily as an issue between the landowner and the governmental agency exercising legal or regulatory authority over the matter.”

While anyone may choose to view the permit process as an issue between the landowner and the agency, the law in play here–Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act–views it VERY differently. The law REQUIRES the permitting agency (in this case the Corps) to seek the input of the public in its review of projects. The law is written to encourage precisely the sort of public input that BSF has apparently eschewed.

Preservation groups have very few legal tools at hand to accomplish preservation; section 106 is by far the most useful. The idea that a preservation organization would publicly proclaim its intent NOT to use the major legal tool at its disposal might well be unprecedented.

Well said, John, and an excellent description of precisely how badly the BSF has strayed from its stated mission of protecting the battlefield.

The board of the BSF, in its rush to appease Tony Troilo, failed to consult with its pro bono legal counsel to determine whether there might be a regulatory impact (or weapon to use to prevent) of the destruction of Fleetwood Hill. Mr. McKinney and his board clearly know nothing of, or care about, the tools that are available to protect the battlefield. How can someone possibly serve as the president of a battlefield preservation group, but yet be as clueless about the fundamental governing regulations and the tools available as Mr. McKinney appears to be?

The arrogance of the president and board of the BSF is truly staggering. Thanks for pointing that out so eloquently, John.

Scridb filter


  1. bob currier
    Mon 23rd May 2011 at 5:26 pm

    How many acres has any of you put in Historic Conservation easements?…thought so. Working over a Culpeper resident and West Point Grad who was elected by a foundation, because? He was to the point and believed the resolution will be correct…your point is?
    Why don’t you call him? or write him a letter?….

  2. Todd Berkoff
    Mon 23rd May 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Mr. Currier – what does it matter where he lives or where he went to school. Mr. McKinney and the rest of the Board, as officers in the BSF, were negligent in their duties as stewards of the battlefield–or worse–complicit in the destuction of CORE battlefield property. If you read previous posts, you would know that multiple people have contacted Mr. McKinney and members of the Board to get answers to what they knew and when they knew it–and either received no response or a vague, smug response.

  3. Mon 23rd May 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Mr. Currier,

    That’s just it–Mr. McKinney refuses to answer substantive questions. As Todd points out, inquiries get only smug non-answers. Evidently, he feels he’s not accountable to anyone and doesn’t need to answer questions. Even when presented with the specific provisions of the by-laws of the organization that require him to make certain reports, he simply ignores that obligation and refuses to respond.

    We are left with no alternative but to point out what a miserable failure he is as a preservationist.

  4. Mon 23rd May 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Right – and any of his responses here on Eric’s blog have been more of the same – demonstrating his intent to do nothing regarding what his family friend, does with the property legally or otherwise.
    And I don’t understand what the question regarding how much property any of us has put into easements… respectfully, what does that have to do with anything? I happen to not own any land on or near a historic site. But Eric has worked tirelessly to save many acres at places like Brandy, Trevilian Station, and Gettysburg. Myself, I have helped to get easements placed on land at East Cavalry Field and Fairfield at Gettysburg. I’ve tried at Hunterstown (so far unsuccessfully, but I and others haven’t given up).
    McKinney needs to resign. Since McKinney has been president, there has been no less damage at Brandy than if Troilo had been president for that time. Now, isn’t that a sad comment?

  5. Tue 24th May 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Is Mr. Currier the same person who is building Disney Historical Park – Lite on the sight of Rappahannock Station battlefield?

  6. Wed 25th May 2011 at 10:10 am


    He is one and the same. His supporting the desecration of battlefield land is not a big surprise.

  7. Chris
    Mon 30th May 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Hey Bob,

    I’d hazard a guess that virtually everyone here has done more for preservation, either through tangible (direct monetary contributions) or intangible (petitions, articles, blogs, etc.) means, than you have.

    I also don’t think it’s a stretch to say that McKinney has acted more badly than the landowner. McKinney should re-read the mission statement of the group he is in charge of.

    If this same thing happened at Gettysburg, imagine the outcry. This incident should not be diminished simply because Brandy Station is not a National Park.

  8. Sun 03rd Jul 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Mr. Currier,

    As long as you insist on insulting me or my readers, I will continue to delete your comments.

    Act civilly and with respect, and you’re welcome to comment here.

    Act like a boor, and this is how you will be treated. The rules are pretty simple. Follow them, and you will have no issues. Disregard them, and you will find yourself unwelcome here.

    And, by the way, since I pay for this website, I get to make the rules. I also make all decisions about enforcement of those rules. There are no arguments about my decisions, and there is no right of appeal. If you don’t like my rules, sorry about your luck, chief. Find somewhere else to post where the rules are more to your liking.

    I trust that I have made myself abundantly clear.

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