For immediate release - October 22, 2012
Contacts: W. Denman Zirkle, SVBF (540)740-4545; David Hay, Ahyayha (540) 661-7379 or (540) 661-7379
Battlefields group teams with Ahyayha.com in effort to restore historic Middle Field
WINCHESTER, Va.—Nestled just north of the bustling Va. Route 7 corridor, on the east side of Winchester, rest now-quiet farm fields that once witnessed one of the pivotal battles of the Civil War: the September 19, 1864, Third Battle of Winchester. At the heart of that battlefield, on the Huntsberry Farm property preserved by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, lies the historic “Middle Field,” a site where close and fierce fighting caused such devastating loss of life that one soldier called it “That basin of hell.”
Today, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (SVBF) and Ahyayha.com, a new Virginia “Benefit Corporation” whose mission is to connect people and conservation projects, have announced a fundraising partnership to raise $32,000 for the restoration of the historic 30-acre Middle Field. The joint project with Ahyayha is the first step among many that the SVBF will undertake during the coming two years to restore and interpret the combined 575-acre battlefield property.
Prior to the 150th Anniversary of the battle on September 19, 2014, the SVBF plans to bring the Middle Field back to its 1864 historic appearance, using a balanced approach of rehabilitation management techniques. Objectives include the removal of 30 acres of non-native shrubs and conversion to a forest meadow with warm season grasses, habitat restoration for vulnerable wildlife including northern bobwhite quail, and the installation of new passive walking trails, historic fences, and interpretive signage.
Restoration Made Possible Through Online Fundraising Effort
Ahyayha.com recently launched its new website platform for funding environmental restoration and education projects. Its micro-finance model serves relatively small scale projects and provides an innovative way to fund ecosystem restoration online, engaging individuals, businesses, and organizations to fund and complete tangible projects. Through www.ahyayha.com, individuals contribute directly to projects that benefit their community or that align with their outdoor and conservation interests.
“By aligning the mutual and compatible goals of supportive citizens, landowners, local businesses, and organizations, Ahyayha creates a mutually supporting circle of benefits for environmental restoration projects.” said Michael Collins, Director of Corporate Development for Ahyayha. “These benefits connect landowners and project leaders that need resources to undertake restoration projects that otherwise would be impossible, with local businesses that need new customers, and finally with the resources we hold in common - our air, land, water, and biology.” Individuals contribute directly to projects, see the results of their contribution, and receive in-kind rewards from project and business sponsors. Projects provide benefits to each part of the community, while improving the natural local environment and more complex ecosystems at large.
“Restoration of the Middle Field before the 150th Anniversary can only happen if citizens from near and far contribute to this important cause” says Patrick Chase Milner, SVBF’s Manager for Stewardship. “If everyone who has a passion for American history and wildlife conservation would be so willing to donate, and then share the Ahyayha project’s webpage with their friends on Facebook and beyond, we can make this exciting project a reality.”
Connecting Newly Preserved Land to Public Access Areas
The Middle Field lies within the 575-acre Third Winchester battlefield preserve in Frederick County. Stretching from Interstate 81 at its western end to Millbrook High School to the east, the Middle Field project area will connect to an already accessible five-mile walking trail on the adjacent 222-acre property owned and managed by the Civil War Trust. The Battlefields Foundation aims to create a seamless network of interpretive and environmental education trails that will allow visitors to walk upon and enjoy the Middle Field on the Huntsberry farm. Bordered by growing neighborhoods, the Middle Field promises to be a verdant meadow of quiet green space for humans and wildlife alike.
“Incorporating the Huntsberry farm property into the already accessible Civil War Trust property will transform Third Winchester into a genuine outdoor destination for heritage travelers” says Denman Zirkle, Executive Director of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. “Our goal is to make the Middle Field at Third Winchester stand out to the visitor just like Cemetery Ridge does at Gettysburg. We feel it is our duty to honor the brave men who fought and lost their lives here, by returning the landscape to its historic and native appearance, conveying to future visitors a ‘sense of place’ – a sense of what the soldiers may have seen and felt on that fateful day.”
Protection of Archeological Resources
Following the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and the Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes, the SVBF will conduct an archeological and cultural resources assessment across the Middle Field prior to and during the restoration effort. This research will aid the Battlefields Foundation as it works with its partners to determine the most appropriate types and locations of future interpretive and community activities.
Third Battle of Winchester
The property is in the core area of the Third Winchester (Opequon) battlefield where more than 54,000 Americans fought one another in the opening salvo of Union Gen. Philip Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Campaign. In the 1992 National Park Service Study of Civil War Sites in the Shenandoah Valley, historian David W. Lowe wrote, “Third Winchester was the largest and most desperately contested battle of the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley, resulting in more than 9,000 casualties. The Union 19th Corps sustained 40 percent casualties (2,074 men) and lost every regimental commander during its assaults on the Middle Field and Second Woods…The Middle Field ranks with some of the most sanguinary fields of the Civil War, witnessing more than 3,000 casualties.”
The Union victory at Third Winchester was the beginning of the end for Confederate hopes in the region, which up until then had been considered a “Valley of humiliation” for the north. The battle also had enormous strategic and political consequences, as it began a series of events that ended Confederate control of the Valley, helped ensure Abraham Lincoln’s reelection in November, and contributed to Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox in April 1865.
For more information, contact Chase Milner at 540-740-4545 or email@example.com.
Note: A map of the Middle Field can be downloaded from the restoration project page on the Shenandoah at War website, at: http://www.shenandoahatwar.org/Land-Preservation/Responsible-Stewardship/Middle-Field-Restoration-Project-Third-Winchester-Battlefield
About the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation (SVBF)
Created by Congress in 1996, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District encompasses Augusta, Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren counties in Virginia and the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Winchester. As authorized by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation serves as the community-driven non-profit manager of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District, partnering with local, regional, and national organizations and governments to preserve the Valley’s battlefields and interpret and promote the region’s Civil War story. The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields website is located at www.ShenandoahAtWar.org.
Founded in 2011, Ahyayha was one of the first Virginia Stock Corporations chartered under the Commonwealth’s new Benefit Corporation statute. A Benefit Corporation requires shareholders to consider environmental and social issues, in addition to financial ones, when forming company policies and directives. Visit Ahyayha on the web at www.ahyayha.com and join its community on Facebook.
MORE ON THE WEB:
Official Fundraising Ahyayha Website:
SVBF Project Webpage: