Usually when I write about a preservation effort, it is about some place a good distance away in someone else’s back yard. Well here’s one that IS in my back yard. Most of the Balls Bluff battlefield is today within the boundaries of the Balls Bluff regional park and the Veterans’ Park to the north. But one critical piece of property remains outside the parks – the Jackson House.
On the morning of October 21, 1861, a patrol from the 15th Massachusetts advanced to the vicinity of the Jackson House. Advance guards from the 17th Mississippi ran into the 15th Massachusetts there, starting the battle of Balls Bluff. Both sides sparred in the fields around the Jackson House. Federals temporarily occupied the house, noting the sounds of women and children in the basement. Later, having been pushed back towards the river, Federals pointed artillery on Confederate troops around the house. But realizing this placed civilians in peril, the Federals redirected the artillery after a few shots.
The house and grounds remained outside the battlefield park, but preserved. Now this property could be acquired and added to the park:
And you and I have the chance to save all this history, and complete the Ball’s Bluff battlefield, with a $10-to-$1 match. These three acres, with the historic home, cost fully $500,000, but through a combination of federal, state and local matching grant applications, we only need to raise the final $50,000 to save this hallowed ground forever!
This is an opportunity that we preservationists should make short work of. Civil War Trust has linked the Balls Bluff effort to the annual call for donations to support payoff of the Slaughter Pen Farm (Fredericksburg) loan. The goal is $200,000 to support the year’s payment on the Slaughter Pen note. The Trust will not slip on that payment, of course. However, as president Jim Lighthizer says:
… if I don’t raise enough each year with this debt-reduction campaign, I will have to “rob Peter to pay Paul,” that is, allow another preservation priority to slip away and use the funds to honor our contractual obligation to the bank.
Read more about these and other preservation efforts at the Civil War Trust website.