By way of explanation, please read what follows.
Whenever we visit a civil war battlefield, we can thank those before us who have preserved those fields, put up those signs, created those parking areas, provided those maps, cleaned up those grounds.
Who are "those" people? Certainly the US government and the National Park Service. But in the 70's and 80's, government interest and money was flagging just as development was flourishing. Not a good combination for our battlefields.
In this same period, some grass roots organizations arose, started fundraising and lobbying. One of these was Jerry Russell's Civil War Round Table organization. Another was the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (APCWS). And there were local organizations too - the first and perhaps most successful being dedicated to the preservation of the Sharpsburg valley. Today, you can stand just about anywhere and see the same scene as the soldiers would have seen over 140 years ago. All those organizations finally joined forces in the 90's to form the Civil War Preservation Trust.
From 1999 to 2004, the Federal government has spent $29 million to buy 14,000 acres of threatened land in 15 states. In large measure this turn-around happened because of the lobby efforts of the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT).
In addition to the government's role, the CWPT and its predecessors had, by that time, bought 21,428.32 acres on 93 sites in 19 states. I couldn't find the number of millions of dollars they have spent but clearly it is more than $30 million. Our club is now a member of this organization and a few of us are members individually.
To raise these funds, the CWPT organizes tours with top-flight historians, like Ed Bearss. They conduct seminars and conduct major initiatives in schools for young people. They produce an excellent magazine four times a year, called Hallowed Ground, often with maps showing troop positions on threatened battlefields. These maps in fact show protected and threatened acreages. They also organize clean-up parties at the local level.
But their greatest contribution is clearly lobbying and fundraising! Not only do they solicit donations through memberships and member donations, but also they find corporate donors and establish matching funds programs. With these funds, they may purchase acreage outright, or obtain first rights to the property whenever it becomes available, or they may obtain an easement. Being a charitable trust, they have additional clout with donors and especially with land holders. They also seek out owners of significant properties and solicit their commitment to preservation. It really is a very massive effort.
Their web site not only lists their successes but also lists their current major projects. One highlight was stopping the Casino, slotted [intentional pun] to be built near Gettysburg. And then there are the 39 acres in the centre of the action at Glendale that are being purchased. At a cost of $700,000 this land must be secured as well. If ever lost, it will be forever lost! In 2008/2009, some of their priorities were lands at Cedar Creek, Sailor's Creek, Ream's Station, and Glendale. But their most sizable acquisition was the area called Slaughter Pen, Fredericksburg. They must raise $200,000 yearly to pay back the bank for this property. This is our suggested priority for 2009.
Click here for their web site.
And Canadians are listened too! Join up and be heard.
Either join through the web site or send a money order in US funds for $35 (the basic level of membership) to