I need your help to finish one of the most ambitious preservation projects in the history of the Battlefields Foundation: the Huntsberry Farm on Third Winchester. We need to raise $220,000 to finish this project.
In 2009, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation tackled the largest preservation project it had ever attempted, the 209-acre Huntsberry Farm on the Third Winchester Battlefield. Straddling Red Bud Run, the fields looked much the same as they did on the day of the battle. South of Red Bud Run, the parcel included part of the Middle Field, where some of the fiercest back and forth fighting in the battle took place. The land was for sale, and a prime location for development. With a sale price of $3.35 Million, preserving it was a big risk, but a risk that had to be taken.
With grant funding and the help of the American Battlefield Trust, Frederick County, the James R. Wilkins Charitable Trust, and donors like you, the Foundation was able to raise $2.8 Million. The remaining $550,000 was covered by a bank loan. What at one time seemed impossible was now a reality; much to the dismay of the local developers, the SVBF owned the vulnerable 209-acres in the core of the Third Winchester Battlefield.
But the work was not done. The Foundation now had to pay off the loan with no other major help in sight. Over the years, we have been making payments on the loan, and, as of today, only $270,000 remains to be paid. The problem is that the annual payments are $35,000, $14,000 of which is interest. The money for those funds come directly from our unrestricted operating budget. That means it’s $35,000 less that the Foundation has to operate with each year. $35,000 less to educate our youth. $35,000 less to create trails or install signage. And $35,000 less that could go towards another preservation effort.
At the current pace, it will take over 10 years to pay off the loan. That’s 10 years of funds that could be used in other important and much-needed areas. That’s why I’m asking you to help pay off this debt. You’ll not only be helping us complete this amazing project; you’ll also be strengthening our ability to do even more of the great work you have long supported.
If you’ve visited the Third Winchester Battlefield Park, I have no doubt you’ll think this property is worth your investment. With cannons, snake-rail fencing, and interpretive markers, it’s one of the marquee battlefield locations in the National Historic District. These 209-acres make up the largest area of land, of the largest battlefield park in the Valley, where the largest battle in the Valley was fought.
From Breathed’s artillery unleashing a deadly fire on the flank of the Union army early in the battle, to the bloody back and forth struggle through the Middle Field, and the sweeping flanking movement by the Union VIII Corps that helped turn the tide of the battle, these 209-acres played a crucial role.
The events that took place on Huntsberry Farm are essential parts of the history of the Third Battle of Winchester. But the history of this property is not fully written. The next chapter is currently underway, and with your contribution, you can be a part of its preservation story.
“The ground fairly worked under our feet and there is one great mistery [sic] that is how we ever so many of us got off alive.” – a Union soldier describing the effects of the cannon fire from the Huntsberry Farm