Published on December 16, 2020

  • Share:
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Email Article

Help Save Land at the “Gibraltar of the Valley”

402 acres of battlefield can be saved for just $20,000!

Click image to see map of battle and target property

We have the opportunity to protect 402 critical acres of the Fisher’s Hill Battlefield, and thanks to the generosity of the family who owns the land, we don’t have to buy the protective easement – we only have to raise the $20,000 it will cost to get the easement done and recorded! This is an amazingly generous offer that enables us to preserve 402 acres that otherwise would remain unprotected – risking not only this property but the viewshed of almost the entire battlefield.

This could almost be called an early Christmas present.  If we can raise the funds needed to pay for the survey appraisal, legal fees, and other costs and fees for creating and recording this easement, the landowners will donate the value of the easement itself!  This is a donation worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So what ground are we talking about?  These 402 acres are on the western end of the Fisher’s Hill Battlefield, on high ground along Little North Mountain.  It was the site where the Army of West Virginia, under the command of General George Crook, arrived after their secretive flank march and from where they launched an attack that would crush the Confederate left and win the battle for the Union.  If you look at the map for this project, a quick look will clearly show the importance of this property.  You’ll see several parcels marked as ongoing projects, and even more marked as already preserved.  When combined, all of these parcels represent the amazing effort that you and all of our friends across the country have been making to save the Fisher’s Hill Battlefield.  We’re slugging it out daily to complete the projects that we already have underway, but this new opportunity is too good not to bring it to you and ask for your help.

If we can come together to raise the $20,000 needed, we are going to partner with the Land Trust of Virginia to co-hold a perpetual preservation easement on this battlefield property and the pre-war structures situated there.  The Land Trust of Virginia is a fantastic and well-known conservation organization that has protected thousands of acres across the Commonwealth.  This will be the first project that we will complete together, and represents a partnership that brings the strengths of both organizations to bear in a way that provides optimal protection and stewardship for this property.

Think about it – an easement on 402 acres, the value of which is over $1.3 million – and all we have to come up with is $20,000.

When you stand on that hillside today and peer down through the woods you can almost hear the West Virginians yelling as they attack.  We have to save this property – protect this hallowed ground – and keep future development on this high elevation from ruining the historic integrity of the rest of this battlefield.

To see the complete letter from SVBF CEO Keven Walker, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“On the morning of the 20th we started up the valley on ‘The secret march’…”
– Union soldier Jesse Tyler Sturm, Army of West Virginia

“The March of the Buzzards”: Crook’s Flank March at Fisher’s Hill

Click image above to see historic sketch

Just days before the Battle of Fisher’s Hill, Union cavalry scouts visited the Barr Farm (on the target property) on Little North Mountain, at the western end of what would become the battlefield, just as the family was sitting down to dinner.  Although the family hurriedly hid in their cellar, leaving their food on the table – food the soldiers quickly wolfed down – they eventually felt safe enough to climb back up.  The soldiers had disturbing news:  a battle would soon be fought here.  Little did the family suspect that the battle’s pivotal flank march and attack would come right across their farm.

The cavalrymen were likely from Gen. William Averell’s command, scouting ahead of the Union advance.  Averell himself scouted the area on September 21, 1864, and later reported that “A line of rail and earth breastworks was reached, behind which the enemy had a strong line of infantry or dismounted men. I informed [Gen. Philip Sheridan]… that an infantry corps, by hugging the base of the North Mountain, might break around the enemy’s left and render his position untenable.”

Such an advance would cross rugged, uneven ground.   The best troops to make such a march would be ones who were used to journeying through mountainous terrain – so used to it that they “always stood sidewise, with one foot higher than the other.”  Troops that were “mostly mountaineers… grown accustomed to service in the mountains, [making] the move through the woods and brush along the mountain side… entirely practicable.”

Troops like the Army of West Virginia – the “Buzzards”…

For more on the battle and the actions on the target property, click here.

“About 3 o’clock we perceived two columns moving up the side of the mountain to our left.” – Confederate Gen. Bryan Grimes