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Friday, 8 December 2017

30th Milestones: Slaughter Pen Farm

30th Milestones: Slaughter Pen Farm

Over the last 12 months, you have joined me in celebrating the Civil War Trust’s 30 years of protecting America’s sacred battlefield land. From Fort Donelson in Tennessee, to Appomattox Court House in Virginia, you have played a key role in saving nearly 48,000 acres of hallowed ground since we embarked on this mission in 1987.

No project the Civil War Trust has undertaken has been more ambitious than our campaign to save the Slaughter Pen Farm at Fredericksburg. On December 13, 1862, John Gibbon’s division advanced across this land before temporarily breaking through Stonewall Jackson’s Confederate line. Virtually unsupported, Gibbon eventually had no choice but to fall back, hotly pursued by Jackson’s men. The fighting that followed was vicious, with both sides charging across the Slaughter Pen. Five brave Americans were later awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions on this land. By day’s end, the Confederate line held firm and the Federals had lost the best chance of success.

When the property was put on the market in 2005, it was zoned for industrial use and described as “one of the best industrial sites in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

The situation looked grim, but we refused to throw in the towel.

Gibbon might have essentially been left to fend for himself, but we were fortunate enough to be able to rely on the steadfast support of our members. After working with our partners to have the property taken off the market, we announced in March 2006 what remains to this day the largest private battlefield acquisition in history, purchasing the 208-acre Slaughter Pen Farm for $12 million. Of this amount, the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust pledged $1 million — a colossal commitment for an organization of its size. True to form, the undaunted men and women of CVBT have since paid this sum in full.

Every one of our successes is a direct result of your dedication and generosity. In sustaining our mission, you not only honor the sacrifices of the men and women who built, defended, and defined our nation, but you help ensure that generations to come will be able to learn from some of the best outdoor classrooms in the world.

The Civil War Trust