National Park Service awards $2.2M to protect Civil War battlefields

National Park ServiceThe National Park Service this week announced $2,208,110 in grants from the American Battlefield Protection Program to protect 169.03 acres of America’s Civil War battlefields.

The grants will be used to acquire portions of Mississippi’s Brices Cross Roads, Raymond, and Vicksburg battlefields, as well as tracts at Bentonville Battlefield in North Carolina and at Virginia’s Petersburg and Williamsburg battlefields.

“Public-private partnerships enable communities to develop local solutions for preserving battlefields and save American taxpayers millions of dollars that would be required for Federal acquisition, maintenance, and interpretation,” said Margaret Everson, counselor to the secretary, exercising the delegated authority of the NPS Director. “Our nation’s significant battlefields are priceless places to explore the stories of sacrifice in reaching towards our highest ideals. ”

The Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant program, administered by the American Battlefield Protection Program, provides up to 50% in matching funds to state and local governments to acquire and preserve threatened American Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War battlefield lands through fee-simple and permanent, protective interests acquisitions at eligible properties.

Eligible battlefields are listed in the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission’s 1993 “Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields” and American Battlefield Protection Program’s 2007 “Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites in the United States.”

Mississippi: Brices Cross Roads Battlefield

Recipient: Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Land Acquired: 48.5 acres

Project Partners: American Battlefield Trust

Amount: $131,964.00

The funds will protect the Brices Cross Roads Battlefield with the acquisition of lands within the core area of the battlefield where Confederate cavalry under Maj. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest scored a decisive victory over Union infantry. At the beginning of June 1864, Forrest’s cavalry entered Tennessee to attack the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad and destroy the line supporting Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s campaign against Atlanta. Outnumbered two-to-one, the Confederate forces defeated a Union column under Brig. Gen. Samuel Sturgis at Brices Cross Roads on June 10, 1864.

Mississippi: Raymond Battlefield

Recipient: Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Land Acquired: 43.71 acres

Project Partners: American Battlefield Trust

Amount: $136,151.25

Grant funds will be used to acquire farmland within the core area of Raymond Battlefield. The Battle of Raymond, fought on May 12, 1863, was a significant action during Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s operations against Vicksburg, the stronghold for the last Confederate-dominated section of the Mississippi River. As Grant pushed into the interior of Mississippi with the objective of the Southern Railroad of Mississippi—the supply line between the Vicksburg garrison and the state capital at Jackson—Brig. Gen. John Gregg’s Confederate brigade attacked Union Maj. Gen. John Logan’s division southwest of the village of Raymond. Gregg’s forces held the field until Union reinforcements prevailed later that day.

Mississippi: Vicksburg Battlefield

Recipient: Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Land Acquired: 32.33 acres

Project Partners: American Battlefield Trust

Amount: $385,675.00

Funds will be used to acquire a portion of Vicksburg Battlefield where Confederate Col. Thomas N. Waul, commander of the Waul’s Texas Legion, launched a counterattack and, at the point of bayonet, drove Union forces from a breech in the city’s fortifications on May 22, 1863. Confederate counterattacks led Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to take the city by siege rather than direct attack. The Siege of Vicksburg (May 18 – July 4, 1863) was the final major military action in the Vicksburg campaign; the city’s surrender effectively split the Confederacy in half and delivered command of the Mississippi River to the Union.

North Carolina: Bentonville Battlefield

Recipient: North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

Land Acquired: 7.22 acres

Project Partner: American Battlefield Trust

Amount: $63,225.00

Funds will be used to acquire two properties, totaling 7.22 acres, for inclusion in Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. The tracts were the site of troop movements and of Union artillery during the Battle of Bentonville, one of the last battles in the American Civil War. On March 21, 1865, Confederate forces under Gen. Joseph E. Johnston were forced to withdraw after three days of fighting the Union Army under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s command. Johnston retreated across the bridge at Bentonville, and formally surrendered to Sherman near Durham on April 26, more than two weeks after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House.

Virginia: Petersburg Battlefield

Recipient: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Land Acquired: 8.5 acres

Project Partners: American Battlefield Trust, Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Amount: $133,693.50

Funds will support acquisition of a portion of Petersburg Battlefield, with a conservation easement granted to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to protect the property in perpetuity. On June 15, 1864, during the “Opening Assault” at Petersburg, Union forces attacked the city’s defenses and drove 5,400 Confederate soldiers, under command of Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, from their first line of entrenchments. During three ensuing days of fighting, Union forces gained ground, but were repulsed with heavy casualties by reinforcements from Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Maj. Gen. Orlando B. Willcox’s division of IX Corps, including companies of Native soldiers among the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters and the 27th and 28th Wisconsin, swept through and were pushed back across the property during their assault on Confederate lines. By June 18, Confederate defensive works were secure and the siege of Petersburg had begun.

Virginia: Williamsburg Battlefield

Recipient: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Land Acquired: 28.77 acres

Project Partners: American Battlefield Trust, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Virginia Land Conservation Foundation

Amount: $1,357,401.05

This grant will support acquisition of land within the Williamsburg Battlefield, site of the first battle of the Peninsula Campaign on May 5, 1862 near Fort Magruder involving some 73,000 troops. These troops fought over what would become known as the Bloody Ravine, which runs through this property. Following the Confederate retreat from Yorktown, Federal forces encountered the Confederates near Williamsburg and assaulted Fort Magruder, an earthen fortification alongside the Williamsburg Road. The Confederates counterattacked unsuccessfully and continued their withdrawal during the night.

Learn more about these grants and the American Battlefield Protection Program at www.nps.gov/orgs/2287/index.htm.

This release can also be found on NPS.gov at www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/blag_dec_2020.htm.


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