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Arts & Culture, Politics, Virginia

Virginia grants will protect battlefields associated with Black troops in the Civil War

Chris Graham
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Virginia is doling out $1.3 million in grants to protect 211 acres of battlefields, with the shocker being that some of the money will protect properties associated with the actions of Black troops during the Civil War.

“My administration is committed to preserving our history to allow future generations to learn from it, the bad and the good,” said Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, who has done his dead-level best to neuter the state’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, making the grants associated with Black troops all the more surprising.

“These commitments will continue the preservation and accessibility to these important resources. These battlefields, that we were at risk of losing forever, serve as a reminder of our journey as a nation,” Youngkin said.

The General Assembly established the VBPF in 2010 under Virginia Code §10.1-2202.4, which, in part, authorizes the Department of Historic Resources to administer the award grants to private nonprofit organizations for the perpetual protection of Virginia battlefield lands associated with the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), the War of 1812, and the Civil War (1861-1865).

A total of eight projects will receive funding through the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund to acquire land for the purposes of permanent preservation and battlefield interpretation.

Two nonprofit organizations, the American Battlefield Trust and the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, will be awarded VBPF grants this year. The two organizations will use the VBPF grants to leverage matching donations and conserve land associated with multiple battlefields of the Civil War: Chancellorsville (1863) in Spotsylvania County, Cumberland Church (1865) in Cumberland County, Glendale (1862) in Henrico County, Trevilian Station (1864) in Louisa County, and the battles of Ream’s Station (1864) and Dinwiddie Courthouse (1865) in Dinwiddie County.

“The awarding of these funds demonstrates Virginia’s sustained commitment to the preservation of significant historic battlefield properties,” Department of Historic Resources Director Julie V. Langan said. “I am excited to see the variety of projects that will be made possible through this round of grants as the Commonwealth continues its investment in preserving and stewarding these important historic places for future generations.”

In accordance with VBPF stipulations, grant recipients must donate an easement to the Virginia Board of Historic Resources for any acreage acquired with the state grant funds. The perpetual easement restricts or prohibits subdivision and commercial development of the land, and contains provisions protecting historic, archaeological and battlefield landscape resources on the property.

The 2023 VBPF awards will be distributed as follows:

  • To preserve a total of three historically significant properties associated with the 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville, the American Battlefield Trust will receive two grant awards totaling $507,350, and the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust will receive one grant in the amount of $164,071.
  • A $96,000 grant awarded to the American Battlefield Trust for the purchase of 42.8 acres on the Cumberland Church Battlefield in Farmville. This award will go toward preserving some of the first acreage associated with the Battle of Cumberland Church on April 7, 1865. A partnership between the Trust and the Appomattox-Petersburg Preservation Society will ensure the property is open to the public as a battlefield park while also retaining its agricultural uses.

The American Battlefield Trust will also receive:

  • $80,000 to preserve an 11.37-acre property in Henrico County associated with the Battles of Glendale, Malvern Hill, Deep Bottom I, and Deep Bottom II.
  • $300,000 to preserve 98.70 acres connected to the cavalry battle at Trevilian Station.
  • $25,500 to preserve eight acres at Dinwiddie Courthouse located near a critical stream crossing that featured prominently in the battle.
  • $133,750 to preserve three acres at Ream’s Station that will connect to more than 500 acres of publicly accessible land in Dinwiddie County. Conservation of this parcel will help close a gap near the center of the battlefield where three separate Confederate assaults were launched during the battle on June 29, 1864.

“The preservation of these significant battlefields enhances Virginia’s focus on historic preservation and land conservation, and advances our reputation as a destination for those seeking to connect with our nation’s history,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Travis A. Voyles.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].

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