WASHINGTON – The National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) today awarded $3,378,437 in Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants to the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. These awards will protect over 536 acres in Tennessee and Virginia associated with an American Revolutionary War and four Civil War battlefields.
“Preserving battlefields and sites of armed conflict invites Americans to explore the intangible bonds of our shared history and create space for reconciliation and healing in the future,” said NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge. “The National Park Service is proud to support local communities in telling these diverse stories and protecting these special places.”
One of the land acquisitions, though small in acreage, bears witness to the experiences of African American soldiers during the Revolution. The Battle of Great Bridge was the first major land action in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Following Lord Dunmore’s 1775 proclamation announcing that those enslaved by revolutionaries could fight for their freedom by joining the British army, hundreds of freedom seekers fled to Virginia. They formed the “Ethiopian Regiment,” which fought at the Battle of Great Bridge in December 1775. Liberty proved elusive, though. British forces sustained heavy casualties and retreated to the fleet in the Chesapeake, where many soldiers tragically died of smallpox while crammed onto warships. This early American victory forced the British evacuation of Virginia and, ultimately, the disbanding of the regiment. Many soldiers went on to serve in other Black Loyalist units and, at the conclusion of the war, moved throughout the British empire as free, though not equal, subjects. The 0.66-acre property acquired by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and its preservation partner, the American Battlefield Trust, will be incorporated into the adjacent Great Bridge Battlefield Museum and Historic Park.
NPS ABPP’s Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants empower preservation partners nationwide to acquire and preserve threatened battlefields on American soil. In addition, the program administers three other grants:?Preservation Planning, Battlefield Interpretation and Battlefield Restoration Grants. This financial assistance generates community-driven stewardship of historic resources at the state, tribal and local levels.??
Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants are available on a rolling basis. To learn more about how to apply, head to NPS ABPP’s website. For questions about NPS ABPP’s grants, contact the program at email@example.com.
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