WASHINGTON: The National Park Service has awarded over $2.1 million in grants for land acquisition at two endangered Civil War battlefields: Spring Hill Battlefield in Tennessee and Cold Harbor Battlefield in Virginia.
“Americans have a duty to protect these scenes of combat. We must honor the memories of those who fought and teach people about the Civil War and its pivotal role in our nation’s history,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. “These grants from the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) will help state and local governments commemorate fallen soldiers and offer place-based education.”
The Tennessee Historical Commission, received $1.9 million to buy the General Motors Tract of the Spring Hill Battlefield. The fighting at Spring Hill was significant as part of the larger story of General John B. Hood’s 1864 campaign in middle Tennessee and as a prelude to the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, and set the stage for one of the worst disasters of the war for the Confederacy. On the night of November 28, 1864, General Hood’s Army of Tennessee marched toward Spring Hill with the intention of cutting off Union Major General John M. Schofield’s IV and XXIII Corps line of retreat to Nashville. Hood believed that by cutting off Schofield, he could defeat him before he could link up with Major General George H. Thomas and the bulk of the Union Army of the Cumberland. Schofield reinforced the crossroads at Spring Hill in the late afternoon and successfully repulsed a disjointed Confederate attack, allowing him to safely move his troops on to Franklin.
The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation will use its grant of $203,000 to acquire one parcel of the Cold Harbor Battlefield for the Central Virginia Historic Preservation Foundation Tract. The Battle of Cold Harbor was one of the bloodiest and costliest battles of the Civil War. General Ulysses S. Grant sent thousands of Union soldiers to their death in a hopeless frontal assault against fortified positions held by Confederate troops of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Union soldiers going into battle at Cold Harbor were so sure they would be killed thatthey wrote their names on scraps of paper and pinned them to their coats to make it possible to identify their bodies. In his later memoirs, Grant said of the battle, "I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made.” The one-sided nature of this battle can be summed up in the casualty totals; 13,000 Union casualties against 2,500 Confederate casualties.Both sites are considered among the nation’s most endangered and threatened. Funding priority is given to battlefields listed in the National Park Service’s Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields. Funds are awarded based on the significance of the land to be acquired and the availability of required non-federal matching funds.
In FY 2010, Congress appropriated $9 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to help non-federal entities acquire and preserve Civil War battlefields. Already in 2010, $7.8 million for 21 projects at 15 battlefields in five states (NC, TN, VA, GA, KY) has been awarded. Since 1998, the National Park Service has awarded more than $44 million in support of 122 battlefield projects. State and local governments, or qualified nonprofit historic preservation organizations acting through an agency of state or local government, can submit proposals, which are accepted year-round and reviewed monthly or quarterly, depending on the degree of priority of the battlefield in question.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is just one of the programs through which the National Park Service helps communities in nearly all of America’s 3,141 counties. To learn more, please visit http://www.nps.gov/communities.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund provides matching grants to states and local governments for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. The program is intended to create and maintain a nationwide legacy of high-quality recreation areas and facilities and to stimulate non-federal investments in the protection and maintenance of recreation resources across the United States. http://www.nps.gov/lwcf
The National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP)promotes the preservation of significant historic battlefields associated with wars on American soil. The goals of the program are 1) to protect battlefields and sites associated with armed conflicts that influenced the course of our history, 2) to encourage and assist all Americans in planning for the preservation, management, and interpretation of these sites, and 3) to raise awareness of the importance of preserving battlefields and related sites for future generations. The ABPP focuses primarily on land use, cultural resource and site management planning, and public education. Visit our website at: http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/abpp/