25 March 2009 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 1 comment

The CWPT issued this important press release today:


Remarks highlight unprecedented success of state’s Virginia Historic Battlefield Preservation Fund

(Fredericksburg, Va.) – At a news conference this morning, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine praised ongoing efforts to protect some of the Old Dominion’s most unique resources — its Civil War battlefields — and ensure balanced development and land surrounding these key historical landmarks. He reiterated the Commonwealth’s commitment to seeing these sites preserved for future generations to study and enjoy.

“Virginia is truly rich in history,” Kaine said. “Our state saw the majority of the Civil War’s largest and most significant battles. As the stewards of this American history, it has fallen to us, working in partnership with private organizations and the federal government, to protect and safeguard these national treasures. I am proud of the recent strides that have been made in this historic preservation and anticipate that future efforts will only build on our successes.”

In recent years Virginia has become an unprecedented leader in forming public-private partnerships for battlefield preservation through the Virginia Historic Battlefield Preservation Fund. Established during the first year of the Kaine administration, this program provides state-funded matching grants for the permanent protection of these hallowed battlegrounds. Each dollar awarded by the state through the program must be matched 2-to-1 by private donations or other grant sources.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia’s commitment to ensuring the protection of her Civil War battlefields is without precedent,” said James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), the only national nonprofit group dedicated to protecting such historic sites. “The efforts of Governor Kaine and visionary leadership in the state legislature are directly responsible for the protection of hundreds of acres of hallowed ground across the state.”

Recognizing the importance of preserving open space across Virginia and the added benefit of protecting the historic landscapes associated with Civil War battlefields, the state created the Virginia Historic Battlefield Preservation Fund in 2006. In 2008, citing the protection of this hallowed ground land as the most appropriate commemoration of the war’s upcoming 150th anniversary, the state appropriated $5.2 million to the program — the most generous contribution to battlefield preservation ever made by a state government.

Also speaking at the event were Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Bill Howell and State Senator Edd Houck, whom Lighthizer called “our legislative champions,” and Kathleen Kilpatrick, Virginia Director of Historic Resources.

“In order to achieve the extraordinary success battlefield preservation has enjoyed in Virginia, it takes leadership at every level,” Lighthizer said. “We have been blessed to find staunch allies at every necessary turn: at the very top in Governor Kaine; in the legislature with Speaker Howell and Senator Houck; and at the cabinet level with Secretary of Natural Resources Preston Bryant and Director of Historic Resources Kathleen Kilpatrick. Each person’s role is indispensible — none of our successes would have occurred without all five of these modern Civil War heroes working toward the same goal.”

The site of the press conference, the Slaughter Pen Farm at the Fredericksburg Battlefield, was one of the first sites to benefit from the grant program. Begun in 2006, CWPT’s campaign to preserve the $12 million, 208-acre Slaughter Pen Farm is the most expensive private battlefield preservation effort in American history. Fighting there was among the most intense of the entire war, with more than 5,000 casualties inflicted on the farm on December 13, 1862. Five Congressional Medals of Honor for valor were awarded for actions taken on site that day. It had been the largest unprotected part of the Fredericksburg Battlefield and remains the only place on the battlefield where a visitor can still follow the Union assault on that bloody day from beginning to end.

In November 2008, the state announced the 15 battlefields that will benefit from the latest round of Virginia Historic Battlefield Preservation Fund grants. Recipient battlefields include: Appomattox Court House, Appomattox Station, Brandy Station, Cedar Creek, Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor, Cross Keys, First Deep Bottom, Fishers Hill, Glendale, Malvern Hill, Port Republic, Sailor’s Creek, Second Deep Bottom and Trevilian Station.

The Civil War Preservation Trust is a 60,000-member nonprofit battlefield preservation organization. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War sites and promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. Since 1987, CWPT has permanently protected more than 25,000 acres of hallowed ground across the country, including 12,600 acres in Virginia. CWPT’s website is located at www.civilwar.org.

Unlike the State of Ohio, the Commonwealth of Virginia gets it. Kudos to Governor Kaine and the legislators that funded the pool of money being used to pay for these land acquisitions. Keep up the good works, folks. Those of us out here in the hinterlands appreciate it a great deal.

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  1. Art Bergeron
    Thu 26th Mar 2009 at 8:30 am

    Kaine has done a 180 since he was mayor of Richmond. At that time, he called the Civil War an albatross hanging around the city’s neck. Guess he finally saw the tourism potential. Better late than never.

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