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9 Mar 2019

Help Restore Battlefields to Wartime Appearances

Help Restore Battlefields to Wartime Appearances

I often ask for your help to save historic battlefield land. Acquiring this land, however, is merely the first step of our work at the Trust. Our work is not done until we have, to the best of our ability, restored that land to its wartime appearance, and steward the land to keep it in that condition until it can be handed over to a permanent caretaker, like the National Park Service.

As you likely know, not everyone values hallowed ground as much as we do, and sometimes the acres we save are in rough shape. Over the years, we've had to grapple with swimming pools, motels, restaurants,  dumps, and even extensive hog pens.

Transforming land at sacred places such as Gettysburg, Brandy Station, and Princeton requires us to repair historic structures, tear down non-historic ones, and perform painstaking research to determine the appearance of these hallowed landscapes when soldiers struggled there. Doing all of this properly requires time, hard work, and money.

Those who have visited the sites we have restored see that the work is well worth the effort. We all are struck with how the view "changes everything!"

Today, I am writing to you with a list of urgent restoration projects on land you have already helped us preserve. I am asking you to help us raise the necessary funds to restore these sacred spaces to their wartime appearance. Restoring these lands will allow visitors to experience the land as the soldiers did, with the same landscapes, plant life, and historical structures at the time of the battle.

One of the projects at hand includes Cedar Creek, a site that witnessed the retreat of Confederate Gen. Jubal Early's army. The list also includes funds needed for our first remediation project at a Revolutionary War battlefield, the May 1780 Battle of Waxhaws. And at South Mountain, we need your help to stabilize the farm house where Gen. Joseph Hooker formed the Union First Corps attack that drove General D.H. Hill's Confederates from Turner's Gap.

As I said earlier, these projects require extensive time and money. The total funds needed for these urgent efforts amount to $153,000. Due to the nature of this work, we are unable to apply for government matching grants. We have to go it alone, but I hope you will agree that restoring these spaces is as critical as saving them in the first place. Understanding the landscape of a battlefield is crucial to understanding the history of what happened there.

Restoring these hallowed grounds not only does honor to those who fought and fell here, but it provides a gift to future generations. By making your gift today, you are helping to build outdoor classrooms that will spark fascination and delight in future generations, ensuring that our passion for history is carried on long after we are gone.

Want to learn more about what it takes to restore battlefields? In this video, our own Land Stewardship Manager Matt George describes his efforts at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

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American Battlefield Trust

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