Civil War battlefield protection has become one of the nation’s most prominent conservation efforts. Although land at Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, and Vicksburg has been protected by and for the American people since the 1890s, many of our nation’s Civil War battlegrounds remain vulnerable to development. Even government-protected battle sites are often only partially protected or have significant privately owned battlefield remaining to be preserved. It has been estimated that thirty acres of hallowed ground are lost every day to conversion and development.
In Virginia, efforts are underway to protect the Glendale battlefield at the Richmond National Battlefield Park, one of more than 25 Civil War sites managed by the National Park Service. Glendale battlefield used to be one of the most forlorn units; just one acre was protected. Since then, the Civil War Preservation Trust has worked to protect 576 acres at Glendale - one of the engagements of the 1862 Seven Days campaign.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund helped fund the Park Service’s acquisition of some of these inholdings at Glendale and the nearby Malvern Hill battlefield. The first meaningful acquisition at Glendale occurred in 2005 with the purchase of a 39-acre tract. Within a year, several other parcels were secured, in part because local landowners supported battlefield preservation. When the 949 acres saved at Malvern Hill are included, there are now more than 3 miles of contiguous, accessible, and interpreted battlefield land protected at the two sites. Additional tracts at the battlefield, however, still remain vulnerable to development.
One landowner said, “The beauty of this is that my great-grandchildren can come back some day, in what 50 years, and see the place relatively like it is now. That doesn’t happen with very many properties.”
According to NPS historian Robert E. L. Krick, “The recent preservation success at Glendale defies comparison. There has been nothing like it before in Virginia. Never before in modern times has anyone preserved a major battlefield virtually from scratch.”