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Friday, 14 December 2018

A Sportsplex on Hallowed Ground?

A Sportsplex on Hallowed Ground?

You may be writing out your holiday cards, and I hope they contain happier tidings than those I must bring today. Right now, a 50-acre tract of land integral to two major Richmond area Civil War battles Gaines' Mill in 1862 and Cold Harbor in 1864 is at great risk of development.

The land is owned by Hanover County, Virginia, and the good news is that they are going to give us a chance to buy it for preservation. The bad news is that if we can't raise the $1 million cost to acquire the property, it will be developed into a massive "sportsplex," complete with up to six soccer and lacrosse fields, parking lots, intrusive light towers looming over the rest of the battlefield, an exponential increase in traffic and inevitable development that will arise to support such a major facility.

This wasn't in our budget for this year. In fact, I had hoped I might not have to ask for your help again in 2018. But when we heard about Hanover County's plans and considered the historic significance of these 50 acres, we simply had to move on it.

According to historian Robert E.L. Krick the expert on these battles and battlefields Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson "deployed the 10,000-man division of Gen. D.H. Hill across every foot of the county property" on June 27, 1862, during the battle of Gaines' Mill. Nearly two years later in 1864, "the property was involved in all aspects of the two-week fight at Cold Harbor."

Please don't get me wrong; we here at the Trust don't have anything against these types of sports complexes – as long as they’re not on an important battlefield! What we have here is an opportunity for a win-win scenario where we purchase these 50 acres and the county finds another location for the sportsplex. In this scenario, the county would benefit from both the sportsplex (at a different location) and the economic and community benefits that preserved battlefields bring!

To make this a reality, we need your help to save this hallowed ground from development. And there's good news: we believe we can secure as much as $821,000 of the $1 million we need to save this land through grants plus donations from several dedicated preservationists and foundations. That means we only need to raise another $179,000 in this emergency effort to save this land. (In case you're counting, that's a terrific $5.59-to-$1 match of your generosity!)

As you make your final decisions about year-end giving, I humbly ask you to consider including a contribution to save these 50 critical acres of hallowed ground from imminent development. This mission this movement this organization could not exist without you. Please give what you can today to help preserve these 50 acres at Gaines' Mill and Cold Harbor.

Thank you for all you do, and I wish you and yours every blessing this holiday season.

 It's not a coincidence that this Virginia ground saw two major battles. See how the Peninsula Campaign in 1862 and the Overland Campaign in 1864 fit into the full picture of the Civil War.

American Battlefield Trust