08 November 2005 by Published in: Battlefield preservation No comments yet

Some of you know that I have been involved with the Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation for a number of years. I sit on the TSBF’s advisory board, and was the author of the text that appears on the Virginia Civil War Trails markers that grace the battlefield. It’s been a pleasure to be involved with what began as a successful grass roots movement by some dedicated local citizens who have done brilliant work with the assistance of the CWPT.

Unfortunately, these groups tend to be plagued by political problems and political issues. One of the founding members of the organization, who had been a board member, has had a major falling-out with the organization and is now a major problem and no longer an asset. This person apparently had ulterior motives–he wanted to see a state battlefield park developed out of the land, so he could get a job. When that didn’t happen, he launched his own campaign. That campaign, in turn, has created significant problems for the TSBF. I haven’t heard anything further about this situation since this article was brought to my attention. I hope that this meeting ended the problems and have permitted folks to get back to the important business–saving a battlefield.

The problem, of course, is that everyone has their own agenda, and often those agendas are in conflict with the goals of the organization. What happened here is a classic example of just that, and it saddens me a great deal to see this organization, with whom I have sweated, toiled, and labored, having problems because someone else had different political agenda. The TSBF has enough financial problems that it doesn’t need its circumstances further complicated by a disgruntled person whose personal agenda was thwarted.

Unfortunately, this is all too common of a problem in not-for-profit organizations and especially in battlefield preservation groups where there is no real heirarchy. “I don’t get paid, so therefore I can do what I want, even if what I want is inconsistent with the needs of the group,” seems to be the common theme when this happens. In a perfect world, everyone sets aside his or her own personal agenda and works toward the common good. I can only hope that that happens more often than not in these organizations. Otherwise, a lot of hard work and the money of decent people will go to waste. And that would be a real tragedy.

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