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Saturday, 29 September 2018

Three Epic Battles, 74 Acres of Crucial Hallowed Ground

Three Epic Battles, 74 Acres of Crucial Hallowed Ground

Springtime, 155 years past. Between May and June of 1863, Union and Confederate armies waged three epic battles – at Chancellorsville and Brandy Station in Virginia and Champion Hill in Mississippi. Now, it is my honor to tell you about an opportunity to save significant tracts of land on these three battlefields by tapping into matching grants from supportive foundations and federal programs.

At Chancellorsville, we have the chance to save 4 acres at the site of Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s Flank Attack. You know the story well: On May 2, Jackson led more than 28,000 men on a circuitous 12-mile flanking maneuver to strike the right flank of Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s Federal army. Like the crash of a sudden summer thunderstorm, the Confederates descended, sending thousands of Union soldiers reeling, and ultimately forcing Hooker’s army into retreat. This campaign remains one of the most studied in military history, but Jackson had precious little time to enjoy the success, as he was desperately wounded that same day.

At Brandy Station, we have the chance to preserve a 2-acre tract at the battlefield’s center—a hole in the donut of preserved land. It is often called the St. James Church tract, for the small Episcopal church that stood on the property, around which swirled the largest cavalry battle in North American history.  From this tract and adjacent land on June 9, Confederate cavalry and artillery forces repulsed daring Union cavalry charges.

Finally, let me tell you about the extraordinary opportunity you and I have to preserve 68 acres at the absolute heart of the battlefield at Champion Hill. On May 16, this sacred ground was the site of what author and retired National Park Service historian Terry Winschel deemed “the largest, bloodiest and most significant action of the Vicksburg campaign.”

Specifically, regarding the land we are saving today, Winschel said, “Seldom has the opportunity to save such a large and significant portion of the core area of a battlefield been presented. The tract encompasses almost two-thirds of [Confederate General John C.] Pemberton’s line of deployment and is from where the Confederate counterattack began. The area has changed little since that bloody day in 1863. Thus, its integrity is largely intact. What a remarkable acquisition this is! Great work!”

The best news of all? Thanks to federal and private matching grants, we can save these 74 acres at these key battlefields from the threat of development for just $235,000. Without these grants, the total cost would be $595,000. But every dollar you give today turns into $2.53, more than doubling the power of your gift.

As a token of our appreciation for your continued support, if you donate at least $61.08 today (in honor of H.R. 6108, the Preserving America's Battlefields Act that helps fund this important work), it will be my honor to send you a full-color, 18” by 12” print of a private, newly commissioned painting by renowned artist Keith Rocco, depicting the early morning fight of the 8th Illinois Cavalry at Brandy Station.

It’s the least we can do to thank you for helping ensure that generations will walk the land where these events occurred and appreciate their enormous significance to our history.

Please visit our website today to learn more about the painting and the three 1863 battlefields, then give what you can to save them! I truly can’t thank you enough for your dedication to the cause of battlefield preservation, for the good of our nation.

As always, there is a tremendous amount of additional information about this historic effort on our website at www.battlefields.org/3in1863. You’ll find fantastic maps, recent and historic photos of the land we are saving, plus a look at the gift you will receive as our thanks for contributing $61.08 or more to save this hallowed ground.

American Battlefield Trust