Civil War Preservation Trust Completes $1 Million Campaign to Save Battlefield Land at the Wilderness
The Civil War Preservation Trust is pleased to announce that it has successfully completed a $1 million fundraising effort to permanently protect 49 acres at the very heart of the Wilderness Battlefield. First announced in October 2010, the effort will set aside a portion of historic Saunders Field immediately north of State Route 20 for eventual incorporation into Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
“Saving critically important landscapes like this is precisely why this organization exists,” said CWPT president James Lighthizer. “Generations of Americans will now have the opportunity to walk this hallowed landscape and gain a fuller understanding of the horrors of war experienced by the soldiers fighting in the Wilderness.”
Acquisition of the Middlebrook Tract has long been a priority for the preservation community, both for the intensity of the fighting that occurred there on May 5 and 6, 1864, and for its unique location, entirely surrounded by land owned and protected by the National Park Service. Since the land sits within national park boundaries, the project was ineligible for federal matching grant funds, leaving preservationists to raise the entire purchase price from private sources.
“I would personally like to thank everyone who stepped forward this holiday season to give a gift to the nation by donating in any amount, large or small,” said Lighthizer. “Several contributors indicated to me they considered this property so historically significant that they made multiple donations to the effort.” Lighthizer also noted that the campaign was also our most successful online fundraising effort to date.
The terms of the acquisition contract placed the purchase price at $1,085,000, if closing occurred before the end of 2010. While the transaction will be finalized in 2011, a year end fundraising surge means that CWPT has collected enough in donations and firm pledges to cover the base price and an extension fee.
The waning days of 2010 also saw a flurry of other acquisition activity across the country. In December, CWPT purchased 56 additional acres at Bentonville, N.C., and completed its completed projects that added two new battlefields to our accomplishments tally — 56 acres at Helena, Ark., and 51 acres at High Bridge, Va. All told, CWPT protected 16 battlefields in five states during 2010. More information about current fundraising efforts is available at www.civilwar.org/saveabattlefield.
With 55,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States. Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds. CWPT has preserved more than 29,000 acres of battlefield land across the nation, including 15,593 in Virginia. CWPT’s website is www.civilwar.org.