Preservation News Update - April 2002
'Park Day' - 'Most Endangered Battlefields' - Bristoe Station, VA: development - Franklin, TN - Fredericksburg, VA - Gettysburg, PA: replanting - Harper's Ferry, WV - Hoover's Gap, TN - Kelly's Mill Pond, NC - Kolb Farm, GA - Petersburg, VA - Raymond, MS - Stephenson's Depot, VA - Submarine H L Hunley, SC.
By Anne Hughes ACWRT(UK)
A volunteer day has been held at 85 battlefields and other historic sites in 21 states throughout the USA. The event is sponsored by the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT). The volunteers work at the park of their choice, in such projects as clearing undergrowth, removing rubbish and other debris.
As an example of what took place, volunteers were asked to go to the South Mountain Recreation Area, to clean up two areas of the park. Volunteers gathered at the Reno Memorial to clear out man-made debris, and non-historical trees and shrubs from a nearby field. At Antietam, volunteers were cleaning out streams or removing plants from behind the Visitor's Centre, hopefully restoring the area to more like its 1862 image.
MOST ENDANGERED CIVIL WAR BATTLEFIELDS (APRIL 2002)
The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) recently announced their annual list and report on America's Most Endangered Battlefields. CWPT President, James Lighthizer commented that the Civil War battlefields are vanishing at an alarming pace. "Once lost, these hallowed battlegrounds can never be replaced" he stated.
The annual list comprises two parts. The first, details the 10 most endangered battlefields, and the second adds another 15 "at risk" sites. Sadly, Mr Lighthizer also commented that "with so many Civil War sites under siege from urban sprawl, we could easily have selected a hundred."
The top ten battlefields are listed as:
Little remains of the Atlanta battlefields or the earthworks that once encircled the city. There is some hope, though, as recently city officials, conservation groups and a developer have got together to save one of the few battlefields remaining. They hope to protect Union earthworks near Utoy Creek battlefield.
Bentonville, North Carolina
Interstates 95 and 40 make this area a prime candidate for further residential development. According to the report, the battlefield is also under assault from relic hunters who dig up the earthworks. Only 240 acres of the 6,000 acres are preserved. Four additional pieces of land are being targeted for preservation.
Chancellorsville has long been one of the most threatened battlefields, being under threat from the urban sprawl from Fredericksburg that moves ever closer. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDoT) has announced plans for an outer bypass, close to the battlefield that will, again, ultimately bring development in its wake. Ashley Farm, seen of the much of the first day's fighting, is likely to be developed.
Only 454 acres of the 19,584 acre site are protected. Some key areas of the battlefield are under threat of development. One 51 acre plot has been under contract by the developer of mobile home parks. Another developer is trying to purchase an 8.76 acre plot near the main entry to the proposed Corinth Battlefield Interpretative Centre.
Little remains today of Franklin battlefield. According to the report, a few opportunities do remain to save portions of the battlefield, but most involve reclamation rather than preservation. See below for further remarks regarding Franklin.
Gaines' Mill and Cold Harbour, Virginia
Because of their proximity to the state capital, Richmond, plus Interstate 295, the battlefields face major threat from residential development. They are among the least protected battlefields in the National Park system, according to the report. The report continues that "a housing development, hauntingly called "The Fields of Cold Harbor" is currently under construction."
Ironically, the main threat to the battlefield is from the same road network that drew the armies to the town. The CWPT is concerned that land around the proposed new visitor centre will attract the chain restaurants and stores, as in other parts of the town. Out of 11,581 acres, only 4,371 are protected.
Harper's Ferry, West Virginia
Key areas of the battlefield are under threat from development. Previous Heritage Update reports in our magazine, Crossfire, have highlighted the plans for a residential development and a 130 foot water own on Murphy Farm, plus a large billboard on the Maryland side of the Potomac.
Located 20 miles from Lexington, Kentucky, part of the battlefield has been designated as a development area in the County Urban Development plan.
Stones River, Tennessee
A new Interstate interchange has been proposed at Manson Pike. Additionally, the Murfreesboro City Planning Commission has voted to remove 200 acres of the battlefield from a "preservation district", to allow the construction of a medical centre. Once again, this battlefield is located in a fast growing county and land values have shot up in recent years. The National Park Service has identified 400 acres of core battlefield that should be preserved, but the $20 million price is a major problem.
The 15 "at risk" battlefields are:
Allatoona, Georgia - two key parcels at the Star Fort and Anchor Fort are unprotected.
Averasboro, North Carolina - at risk from road construction, bring with it the attendant residential development problems.
Bristoe Station, Virginia - not protected at present.
Buffington Island, Ohio - a gravel and sand mining operation has already destroyed 30 acres.
Fort Heiman, Kentucky - Residential development threatening remaining earthworks.
Glorieta, New Mexico - Proposals to route State Route 50 through the battlefield may destroy the core of the battlefield.
Manassas, Virginia - Land outside the park site under constant threat from the Washington sprawl.
Mansfield, Louisiana - Threatened by adjacent lignite mining operation and residential development.
McDowell, Virginia - Threatened by proposed widening and realignment of US Route 250.
Morris Island, South Carolina - Most of the earthworks on the site have been eroded by the sea.
Pilot Knob, Missouri - Prime candidate for industrial development and is sited on the edge of town.
Petersburg, Virginia - Located along major transport routes and at risk from development.
Raymond, Mississippi - Threatened by development along Highway 18 due to location near state capital, Jackson.
Stephenson's Depot, Virginia - At risk from becoming industrial park or residential development.
The Wilderness, Virginia - At risk from development pressures along the Orange Turnpike and old Orange Plank Road.
Other Preservation Highlights (in alphabetical order)
BRISTOE STATION, VIRGINIA
The Board of County Supervisors unanimously approved development plans for Bristoe Station, to includes 520 homes and commercial development. The developer, has promised to protect 127 acres of the battlefield and allow archaeologists to search for further unmarked graves. According to reports, the battlefield will be transformed from farmland and woods into a "passive Heritage Park", with walking paths and interpretative signs.
Whilst this is being billed as a success - the Board Chairman said "I think it is one of those rare situations involving a developer where everyone walked away satisfied" - many locals are not so convinced.
In a letter to the Washington Post, local preservationist, Ms Bobbie McManus stated:
"The Sons of the Confederate Veterans were given 120 days to locate the rest of the graves and its possible there are hundreds more graves than 500 that are known to exist. All of this happened on private property, where a forensic anthropologist or archaeologist never had the opportunity to conduct the thorough research needed to find these graves and where the owners chased anyone that was curious about the Battle of Bristoe, or the site where a relative lost his life and is possibly buried. The owners also removed the grave stones from the Alabama graves, and claimed nothing historically significant happened there. Perhaps nothing did. Maybe this is just a nightmare that I have of bullets flying and men screaming as they meet their insignificant deaths."
Ms McManus has also reported that the 127 acres to be preserved will have the sewer, water and drainage ponds placed their by the developer. She is concerned that the 120 days commences on settlement, and fund-raising for the last (aerial) search for graves took six months alone. The Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is now raising funds for the new search and donations may be sent to Sons of Confederate Veterans, c/o Robert W. Barbour, 3226 Cove Road,Roanoke, VA 24017. More info: e-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
A recent news conference was called to announce that the Save the Franklin Battlefield (STFB) group and the Civil War Preservation Trust were supporting the preservation of Battle Ground Academy site as a battlefield park. Only a few opportunities remain to save part of the battlefield from development and the STFB was able to purchase a 3.2 plot near the main trench line last year, but land adjacent to the Harrison house was lost.
A little-known part of the Fredericksburg battlefield is to be preserved. Smith Run, where four Medals of Honor were awarded, is to be purchased by the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust (CVBT). The contract is to be signed in May for the 11 acres at Smith Run. The CVBT is hoping to receive $150,000 from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation towards the purchase price of £300,000. They are seeking donations for the remaining cost.
More info: www.cvbt.org
Gettysburg National Military Park has finished planting 16,000 shrubs to re-establish the Codori-Trostle thicket on the battlefield. As mentioned in previous reports, non-historical growth has been cleared from the area and the upland shrubs will help to return the area to its 1863 appearance. Once the shrubs have become established, other non-historical trees will be felled. The project is ongoing and is expected to take 15 years, including replacing historic fences, orchards, and farm lanes. The Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg are raising $25 million for the rehabilitation of the battlefield.
Also at Gettysburg, the NPS is closing the Pennsylvania Memorial for restoration, from 16 April 2002. The Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg are managing the project and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has made available a £1 million grant for the work.
Deteriorating concrete in the structural support system of the monument will be replaced; and repointing and regrouting, replacing electrical systems in the stairwell to the observation deck will also be undertaken. The monument is the largest of the battlefield memorials and features bronze tablets listing the names of the more than 34,000 soldiers of Pennsylvania who fought at Gettysburg. It is hoped that the work will be completed, and the monument re-opened to the public, in November 2002.
More info: http://www.friendsofgettysburg.org or http://www.nps/gov/gett
HARPER'S FERRY, WEST VIRGINIA
The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) has announced the beginning of a national campaign to rescue part of School House Ridge. CWPT President, Jim Lighthizer, said that "School House Ridge is a national treasure. If this property was allowed to fall prey to development, one of the most beautiful and historic landscapes in America will be marred forever."
The CWPT's campaign aims to raise private and public funds to protect the 232.5 acre site. The purchase price for the site is more than $1.7 million. The Trust has already saved 56 acres of battlefield directly across from School House Ridge.
More info: www.civilwar.org./newsroom/release_2002-04-19.htm
More news from Harper's Ferry. The Harper's Ferry National Historical Park has posted fact sheets for the park's proposed boundary expansion. There is also an on-line comment card at the website. Please, do take the time to visit the website, express a view, and vote for your choice of options.
More info: http://www.harpersferryhistory.org/boundary
HOOVER'S GAP, TENNESSEE
Hoover's Gap battlefield, south of Murfreesboro, was under threat recently. The owner of the land where the battle took place had applied to rezone the land from rural residential to recreational/commercial. He planned to build a motocross racetrack with two tracks and 280 parking space.
Preservationists had to go through three levels of meetings with the county regarding the proposed rezoning. The Future Planning and Planning Commisions both unanimously recommended denying the request. The developer then withdrew his application, the day before the full County Commission meeting. A success, although the land will remain zoned for residential use as it was before.
KELLY'S MILL POND, NORTH CAROLINA
The owners of historic Kelly's Mill Pond are looking for help and advice regarding the property. The mill was used to supply the Continental troops during the Revolutionary war. During the Civil War, much fighting took place near the original mill site, which still stands on US Highway 70 east of Kinston
Kelly's Mill Pond was damaged during Hurricane Floyd flooding and the pond has been drained. Mr. Bryan King of Lakeside Mills Inc says "my family and I want to restore, preserve, protect and provide proper stewardship to the history, the property and beauty of the 350 plus acre park. We have civil war artifacts, portions of the original New Berne Highway, earthen works, etc all on the property. We are looking for help and guidance in developing this idea. I hope we can make the 'Kelly Mills Pond Battlefield and Recreational Park' a reality".
Readers are ask to contact Mr. King if they can assist in any way.
E-mail address: Administrator@lakesidemills.com
KOLB FARM, GEORGIA
Land at Kolb Farm near Kennesaw Battlefield has finally been purchased. Cobb County bought the land with the assistance of the Kolb Farm Coalition. Representatives from the Coalition and the Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield Superintendent, representing the National Park Service (NPS) attended the closing. The NPS is now working on the environmental studies needed to transfer the land to into the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. They are also negotiating traffic matters with Cobb County. It is hoped that the transfer to the NPS will take place shortly.
Petersburg National Battlefield Park is putting on a series of workshops in May to view the park's General Management Plan's (GMP) conceptual alternatives. Based both on opinions expressed by the public and also by a professional consultancy, the concepts are felt to provide guidance and direction to park management for years to come.
The battlefield plans to post details of the conceptual alternatives on their website. Copies of the handouts may also be requested by either e-mail: PETE_GMP@nps.gov or by writing to: The Superintendent, Petersburg National Battlefield, 1539 Hickory Hill Road, Petersburg, Virginia 2380, marked "GMP Conceptual Alternatives". Comments on the concepts may be sent to the same e-mail and postal addresses. The public can also be put on the park's GMP mailing list by sending in their postal address.
Park Superintendent, Bob Kirby, said "we are asking for the public's input into planning process which will help us develop a good General Management Plan for the battlefield".
More info: www.nps.gov/pete
A new monument to the 7th Texas Infantry will be dedicated at Raymond, Mississippi on 4 May 2002. Friends of the Texas Historical Commission and the Austin Civil War Round Table have raised funds to erect the monument, which is of red Texas granite.
STEPHENSON'S DEPOT, VIRGINIA
Locals are concerned because they feel that Stephenson's Depot is again at risk. The Board of Supervisors of Frederick County voted to take Route 37 off the county's road use plan. This road would have destroyed Stephenson's Depot in addition to Camp Russell. However, a member of the Commonwealth Board of Transportation is reported to be determined that the road will be built and the Save Stephenson Alliance is asking for help in writing letters "saying No to Route 37".
More info: e-mail Sharon Boyd, chairman for the Save Stephenson Alliance.
E-mail address: BrettBoyd@peoplepc.com
SUBMARINE H L HUNLEY, SOUTH CAROLINA
The Hunley Commission sitting subcommittee spent the first day of April in viewing sites for the proposed new Hunley Museum. This will be the permanent home of the Confederate Submarine, once conservation work has been completed. The three short listed sites are in North Charleston, Mount Pleasant and downtown Charleston. The Commission Chairman pointed out that each site has its own strong points and that the Commission has to look at viability and a built-in tourism market. Deliberations regarding the sites will be conducted in public and, it is hoped, these will take place within a few weeks of the visits to the sites. A recommendation will be made, in due course, to the full Hunley Commission.
Conservationists working on the Hunley hope that new advances could speed up the restoration work. A technique called cold plasma reduction is being tested on one of the submarine's rivets and could, if successful, shorten the conservation period.
More info: www.hunley.org
(Photo caption - Reno Monument, South Mountain Recreation Area. Copyright: Anne Hughes)
© ACWRT(UK) 2002