“Surge” on Malvern Hill

This week the Civil War Preservation Trust announced a short deadline effort aimed to preserve 178 acres at the location of the Carter Farm on the Malvern Hill battlefield outside Richmond.  Confederate infantry of Barksdale’s and G.T. Anderson’s Brigades staged on that ground prior to advancing into fire of Federal artillery on July 1, 1862.  Confederate artillery also deployed on the property during the battle.  So while not in the heart of the battlefield, the ground offers a location from which to appreciate both the line of march taken by the soldiers into the main battle, and the viewpoint of the Confederate commanders observing the battle.

I would offer one other point regarding the 178 acres.  Consider the last two decades or so of acquisitions by the Trust and other like minded preservation groups in eastern Henrico County.  In 1990, the National Park Service maintained a small plot off Carter’s Mill Road from which the entire battle of Malvern Hill was interpreted.  Although the end point to the Richmond Battlefield’s tour of the Seven Day’s Battles, limitations of space gave the visitor very little to work from.  From 1994 onward, preservationists acquired property or established easements.  Now entering a new decade, a swath of land set aside as “battlefield” complements the NPS land.  This progression continues in the spirit of Douglas S. Freeman and others, who first called attention to the Richmond battlefields in the 1920s.

In the words of historian Bobby Krick:Because of the preservation successes there, Malvern Hill battlefield has become the most visitor friendly battlefield in this part of Virginia.  And unlike most of the other Richmond-area battlefields, Malvern Hill has sweeping vistas that make understanding and appreciating the ground somewhat easier.

According to the Trust, the overall price tag is two million and the deadline is December 31.  However, with matches from the Virginia Legacy Fund, the federal Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program, and the landowner (!), the shortfall is $545,300.  Still sounds like a tall order for a couple of weeks.  But the Trust is courting a major donation partner to come through with much of that shortfall.  If such comes to fruition, the Trust would only need $45,000 more to secure the property.   Running down the numbers, such means a dollar forwarded to the Trust for this “surge” matches to $46 of other sources.  A $254 donation then translates into the preservation of an entire acre of ground!

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