Published on October 4, 2016

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Would you spend $190 to buy an acre of ground worth $5,600?

Well, thanks to the generosity of our partners – and donations from the property owners themselves – I can give you the chance to do just that!   Knowing how much you care about saving our Civil War battlefields, I know you’ll want to take advantage of this unbelievable opportunity. 

We can save 553 acres of battlefield valued at over 3.1 million dollars – and we can do it at a cost of only $105,000 – that’s just under $190 per acre.

These 553 acres include three different parcels at three of the Valley’s key battlefields.  Located from one end of the Valley to the other they’re the sites of crucial action from both the 1862 and 1864 Valley campaigns.

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John Brown Gordon

 

 

At Cedar Creek we can save 160 acres where General John B. Gordon’s troops swarmed across the Shenandoah River under the cover of darkness and began their fateful assault on the unsuspecting Federal lines; at the Tom’s Brook battlefield we can protect a staggering 373 acres where Union Gen. George A. Custer turned the flank of his old friend, Confederate Gen. Thomas L. Rosser; and at Port Republic we can preserve 20 acres of the site where Stonewall Jackson narrowly escaped capture and where both Confederate and Federal Artillery alternately positioned their guns during the fighting around Port Republic.

 

 

 

 

In all, we can save 553 acres of hallowed ground where pivotal acts of our great American tragedy played out, and we’ll be able to leverage major gifts and public grants to match the buying power of every dollar that you give by almost 30 to 1! 

Below, you will find historic information and battle maps that highlight the properties and show how important it is for us to act immediately. Please review this information and make a contribution to take advantage of this incredible opportunity!

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Historical Significance

Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson

The property at Port Republic was part of Stonewall Jackson’s famous “narrow escape” on June 8, 1862.  On that morning, Jackson’s army was split into two parts, with Gen. Richard Ewell’s division near Cross Keys and Gen. Charles Winder’s division camped along the North River near Port Republic.  Union Gen. John C. Fremont’s army was approaching Cross Keys (Ewell would defeat Fremont at Cross Keys that day), while Gen. James Shields’s army was moving towards Port Republic in the Page Valley.  Unbeknownst to Jackson, advance elements of Shields’ force were much closer than he suspected.

That morning, Jackson was at his headquarters in the Kemper home, Madison Hall, when a panicked rider arrived at headquarters to report that the Yankees were coming.  Federal cavalry (part of Shield’s force) had caught the Confederates napping; over 100 Federal troopers of the 1st West Virginia Cavalry and two guns from Battery L of the 1st Ohio Artillery came pouring into town and up along the side streets toward Main street – threatening to cut off Jackson’s only route of escape, the covered bridge across the North River at the other end of town.

Galloping through the chaos as cannon fire crashed into the streets, Jackson reached the bridge just in time, although a Federal artillery shell fired from Yost’s Hill crashed through the bridge as Jackson passed that spot.  Upon reaching the other end of the bridge, Jackson rode up the rise and called to the troops who were spread along the high ground north of the road, including the 20 acres that we now have the opportunity to save forever.  Jackson ordered his artillery to “have the guns hitched up!” before rushing toward the first infantry he could find, the 37th Virginia infantry. Quickly guns were positioned on the hill and infantry were moving toward the bridge.

Returning to the river, Jackson mistook a Union cannon for his own and urged it to follow him across.  Discovering his mistake just in time, Jackson raced back to the crest, then ordered the 37th to “Fire from column and charge bayonets!”  The 37th charged into the mouth of the bridge and across the river.  At that moment Jackson was seen raising his arms and face to heaven in prayer.  Over the next 30 minutes the Confederates drove the Federals out of Port Republic and back across the South River fords.  Jackson was safe, as was the vital North River Bridge, the only route by which his army could effectively avoid entrapment.  The property that we have opportunity to save is where much of this drama unfolded and was also an artillery position for Fremont’s artillery during the Battle of Port Republic the next day.

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George Custer

 

 

Down the Valley from Port Republic, along the old Back Road at the base of North Mountain, is a 373-acre parcel that, with your help, we can also save.  It’s on this property that Gen. Custer, during the Battle of Tom’s Brook (fought on October 9, 1864), ordered the troopers of Col. William Wells and Col. Alexander Pennington’s brigades (veterans from New York and Pennsylvania), to charge at the flank of Gen. Rosser’s outnumbered Confederate cavalry.  Supported by Capt. Charles Peirce’s Federal Battery, the charge was successful, unhinging the rebel line.  With cries of
“we’re flanked!” the Confederate defenders broke, and Rosser’s troops were driven south in a retreat that soon became a rout – joined by Confederates under Gen. Lunsford Lomax, who had also been overwhelmed on a separate part of the battlefield near the Valley Turnpike.  “The Woodstock Races,” as they came to be known, would actually see Federal Cavalry chasing the Confederates all the way to Mt. Jackson.

 

 

 

 

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Joseph Kershaw

 

 

The third target property is at Cedar Creek, site of the final pivotal battle of the 1864 Shenandoah Campaign.  This 160-acre property was part of the very beginning of the battle; it was across this land that Confederates under Gen. Joseph Kershaw and Gen. John. B. Gordon launched their daring pre-dawn assault on the morning of October 19, 1864, the first blow in Confederate commander Gen Jubal A. Early’s brilliant surprise attack.  Kershaw and Gordon’s men swarmed out of the fog to crash into Union Col. Joseph Thoburn’s division (part of the Union Army of West Virginia, aka the VIII Corps).  While Thoburn’s position was “crowned with a formidable line of entrenchments,” it was isolated from the other Union defenses, and his men were overwhelmed by the rebels (including Gen. William T. Wofford’s brigade of Georgians), beginning the domino-like collapse of the VIII Corps.  If you look at the enclosed map, you’ll see how preserving this property is important not just for its historical value, but also for how it affects the surrounding battlefield.  Keeping this land undeveloped is critical for protecting the viewshed and the historic integrity of surrounding property that has already been preserved.

 

 

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