We now have the chance to preserve and interpret a new section of the Battle of Williamsburg, where people can go to learn about this important chapter in American history. These 29 acres are zoned for commercial development, meaning that if we are not able to save them, they could be destroyed and denied to future generations.
The transaction has a value of an eye-popping $2,743,000, due to the land’s market value as a property zoned for commercial use. Amazingly, between significant federal and state matching grants and a donation of value from the owner of the property, you and I can save this land for just $12,500! That’s right: for just $12,500 – a $220-to-$1 match of your generosity – you will help to you and I can save some of the most important land associated with this key battle of the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, land that was destined to be developed and lost forever.
The battle, fought in almost unceasing rain that turned roads to streams of mud, and streams and creeks into bottomless swamps, occurred on May 5, 1862, as Confederate General Joseph Johnston pulled his army back up the Virginia Peninsula ahead of Union General George B. McClellan’s mighty host, otherwise known as the Army of the Potomac.
Johnston left his subordinate, General James Longstreet, in Williamsburg with instructions to delay the Federals and buy time for the Confederate supply wagons to get further up the one road leading to Richmond.
Author Shelby Foote, in his acclaimed The Civil War: A Narrative, described the Battle of Williamsburg as “confusion from start to finish, with lunges and counter lunges and a great deal of slipping and sliding in the mud . . . In the end, both [sides] claimed a victory . . . the only apparent losers were the casualties: 1,703 for the South, 2,239 for the North.” If this battle was fought just ten months earlier, it would have been the costliest engagement in American history.
Some scattered parcels have been preserved over the years, but as you can see on your battle map, this is the first time any part of the main action near the famous “Bloody Ravine” has been targeted for preservation.
This is a photo that was recently taken on the land we are trying to save. Look closely on the left of the photo below to see if you can spot the small fawn lying in the grass. Hint: look for two ears!
When you see the land for yourself, it is shocking to think that this pristine hallowed ground could be the site of a gas station or fast food restaurant. It’s a reminder of why we continue our work to protect these places. By making a gift to save this land, you are not only to safeguarding American History, but providing a home for wildlife and creating a place where one can go out to enjoy nature and open space.
Will you join us to keep this land as pristine today as on the day of the battle 158 years ago?
Please consider making your most generous gift now to help raise the $12,500 we need to essentially create a new battlefield and prevent this history from being paved over.