Battlefields Foundation Preserves one acre of core battlefield at Third Winchester

newspaperThe Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF) announced the successful preservation of one acre at the core of the Third Winchester (Opequon) battlefield on Monday.

SVBF CEO Keven Walker said “The preservation of this property has multiple benefits that come with the importance of saving this piece of the battlefield.” Walker continued by saying “It is an internal piece of the Third Winchester Battlefield Park that will now be made available to the public.”

SVBF purchased the property using funds borrowed from Winchester-based United Bank.  Without the assistance from United Bank and the patience of Winchester business partners Jacob H. “Rocky” Yost and Melissa Elliot, who sold the property to SVBF, the protection project may not have been possible.

“This project demonstrates the Foundation’s reliance on the local business community and landowners to protect battlefields,” John D. Hutchinson V, SVBF Conservation Director, said.  “When we get strong support from the community like we got from United Bank and the sellers on this project, we can get a lot more done.”

United Bank provided a short term bridge loan that SVBF plans to pay off using a grant from the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund (VBPF) that the Foundation hopes will be awarded by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.  If all goes according to plan state funds will be matched by a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP), managed by the National Park Service, and private funds provided by SVBF members and donors.

“This is a perfect example of why we must continue to receive public support,” Walker said, noting that every dollar raised from members and donors that was utilized in the project will be matched by $27 from grants. “We only used about $4,200 of donated funds in the purchase, but if SVBF members and donors had not made up the difference between the state and federal funding, this property would not have been protected.”

Located of Redbud Road, the newest parcel protected at Third Winchester saw significant action during the September 19, 1864 battle. Fighting erupted there between Fitzhugh Lee’s Confederate command and the 156th New York Infantry that had been sent across Redbud Run in an attempt to clear a path toward the left flank of Gen. Jubal Early’s Confederate line.  The New Yorkers were driven back while the Confederate artillery and cavalry from the high ground around property exacted a deadly fire upon Union troops who were forcing their way across the famed Middle Field. By mid-afternoon, Brig. Gen. George Crook’s VIII Corps and cavalry turned the Confederate left flank and Early ordered a general retreat. Third Winchester signaled the beginning of the end of Confederate dominance in the area and the Union victory would also be the largest battle ever fought in the Shenandoah Valley.

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