This is one for the books!
Just last week the Civil War Trust closed on their goals for preserving a large (the largest ever in the modern preservation movement) tract of land at Kelly’s Ford. As many of you know, much of the ground contested on March 17, 1863 was again battleground on June 9 of that same year during the battle of Brandy Station. Well now there’s more good news for Brandy Station. Yesterday the Civil War Trust announced they’d secured a contract on Fleetwood Hill:
The Civil War Trust, America’s largest nonprofit battlefield preservation group, today announced the that it has secured a contract with a Culpeper County landowner to acquire 61 acres of core battlefield land at Fleetwood Hill on the Brandy Station Battlefield. This is the first step in what is anticipated to be a national fundraising campaign to ultimately preserve this site and open it to the public. This opportunity comes just a few months before 150th anniversary commemoration of the battle, fought on June 9, 1863.
“The Civil War Trust is pleased to confirm that we have reached an agreement with a local landowner to place under contract his 61-acre property on Fleetwood Hill,” noted Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer in a statement released earlier today. “Protection of this property at the epicenter of the Brandy Station battlefield has been a goal of the preservation community for more than three decades.”
Although pleased with the agreement, Lighthizer cautioned that “several steps remain before the transaction is completed and the property can be considered preserved — chief among them raising the $3.6 million necessary to formally purchase the land.” He noted the Civil War Trust’s intention “to launch a national fundraising campaign next year with the aim of raising the money in time for the 150th anniversary of the battle in June 2013. Further details of this exciting opportunity — including mechanisms for public involvement and donations — will be announced in the new year, once additional groundwork for the project is laid….
Many readers are familiar with my passion on this subject. That hill, really more a plateau, is among the most significant pieces of ground related to the Civil War. Even as a “die hard” Western Theater-type, I recognize the importance of the actions that took place on that elevation and the events taking place there which shaped the course of the war.
Over the years Fleetwood Hill became just as important objective for those seeking to preserve the Brandy Station Battlefield as it was for the combatants during the war. Despite success elsewhere on the battlefield, preservationist’s efforts to purchase the ground failed. Worse yet, a couple years ago some “landscaping” (I’m being kind here) along Flat Run damaged the historical integrity of the hill. Now we have the opportunity to ensure this ground is added to the existing preserved battlefield – one major, important piece that will fill in the picture of the most important cavalry engagement of the war.
And when that deal is complete, the lion’s share of the credit goes to historian, preservationist, and my friend Clark “Bud” Hall.
Over the years Bud has put in more time and effort towards the preservation of that hilltop than anyone. He’s led tour groups, written articles, held meetings, wrote countless emails, and spread the word in any way possible. Above all he refused to stop short of the goal. Bud is the driving force behind the effort to save Fleetwood Hill. He’s the one who ensured this deal went forward, despite what you might read elsewhere. When the property went on the market earlier this year, Bud wrote a piece for the Civil War News calling for us preservationists to respond. He signed off that article saying, “See you on Fleetwood.”
So let’s get those donations ready for Brandy Station ’13 and make short order of the initiative. Let’s make sure June 9, 2013 goes down as a day honoring the men who fought there 150 years before by ensuring the land is set aside for future generations. Let’s go see Bud Hall on Fleetwood Hill.