Trust, Va. preserving Civil War battlefield

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Civil War Trust has teamed up with the state to complete a $3.2 million campaign protecting 285 acres at Gaines' Mill, where Gen. Robert E. Lee had his first major victory as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

The preservation expands the number of protected acres at Gaines' Mill, the bloodiest chapter in the Seven Days' Battles, making it a "monumental achievement" in the trust's history, president James Lighthizer said.

"Prior to this, only 65 acres of this crucial battlefield had been protected," he said in a statement prepared for the formal announcement. "With just one purchase, we have more than quintupled the amount of land at Gaines' Mill preserved forever."

The entire 285 acres are within the boundary of the Richmond National Battlefield Park, so the trust will turn over the property to the National Park Service for long-term stewardship and interpretation for visitors.

The preservation was completed with a $1.5 million transportation enhancement matching grant from the state. The property's historic significance and the looming prospect of development made it an ideal candidate for the funding, said Sean T. Connaughton, Virginia's secretary of transportation.

Gaines' Mill is full of history -- from Lee's powerful assault against Union lines just outside the capital of the Confederacy to the use of observation balloons by both sides, a first.

The battle was fought on June 27, 1862, and was the second of the Seven Days' Battles in which the Confederates sought to blunt federal forces that moved up the Virginia Peninsula with their sights set on Richmond.

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