More than 200 acres of Civil War battlefield acreage in Mississippi, Virginia, and West Virginia are going to be protected thanks to nearly $2 million Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants.
These projects support collaborations among state and local governments and their nonprofit partners to care for the places and stories of the nation’s shared heritage. The awards from the National Park Service are made possible by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which reinvests revenue from offshore oil and natural gas leasing to help strengthen conservation and recreation opportunities across the nation.
One of the grants announced Friday goes to the Jefferson County Landmarks Commission and will support the purchase and placement of a perpetual conservation easement on nearly 122 acres of the Shepherdstown Battlefield in Jefferson County, West Virginia. The project brings together the county government, a local landowner, the Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle, and the nonprofit American Battlefield Trust to ensure that the fields of Faraway Farm remain as they have been for much of the past 160 years.
In late September 1862, after the Union army beat back the Confederate invasion of Maryland at Antietam, General Robert E. Lee retreated across the Potomac and left a rearguard to defend the river’s ford. Union troops suffered heavy casualties in crossing the river and trying to establish a beachhead. This rearguard action halted Federal pursuit of the retreating Confederates and cost Union Major General George McClelland his job, but the Union victory at the end of the Maryland campaign was the “turning point” that President Abraham Lincoln was seeking.
On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, with the promise of forever freedom to persons held in slavery in secessionist states at the stroke of the new year. The grant builds on sustained preservation efforts that have protected more than 600 acres at Shepherdstown and on our collective commitment to healing and renewal.
The other grant awards went to:
The Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants managed by the National Park Service empower preservation partners nationwide to acquire and preserve threatened battlefields on American soil. In addition, the program administers three other grant programs: Preservation Planning, Battlefield Interpretation and Battlefield Restoration grants. Financial and technical assistance support sustainable, community-driven stewardship of natural and historic resources at the state, tribal and local levels.