NPS Director Jarvis Warns That Time Is Running Out For Civil War Battlefield Preservation

The Battle of Bentonville, NC, March 19-21, 1865, was the last action of the Civil War in which a Confederate army mounted a tactical offensive. The battle was the largest ever fought in North Carolina and is known as the only significant attempt to defeat Sherman's Union army during its march through the Carolinas as the war neared its end. The $168,720 grant to save part of this battlefield goes to the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

The sesquicentennial of the American Civil War provides what may be the last great opportunity for our nation to save significant portions of battlefields from the war,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in late September.

With that startling statement, he announced nearly $2.5 million in NPS grants to acquire lands at eight Civil War battlefields. “We are pleased,” he said, “to provide funding that will assist in the permanent preservation and protection of these hallowed grounds.”

The director said the grants will help afford fee simple, outright purchases of land at Perryville, Kentucky ($43,715); Mill Springs, Kentucky ($330,500); Bentonville, North Carolina ($168,720); Franklin, Tennessee ($112,800); Second Manassas, Virginia ($196,500); Peebles’ Farm, Virginia; and Totopotomoy Creek, Virginia ($91,600). The funds will also purchase an easement at Cool Springs, Virginia ($1,500,000).

The grants specifically aim to preserve threatened Civil War battlefield land that lies outside the boundaries of nearby national park units. The funds come from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) and are awarded to states and local communities. Priority was given to battlefields listed in the National Park Service’s Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields (CWSAC Report). Funds were awarded based on a variety of criteria, most pointedly on the property’s location within CWSAC-defined core and/or study areas. Awards were also based on the severity of the threat to the battlefield land, and the availability of required non-Federal matching funds.

The grant funds were made available under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-74), which appropriated $8,985,600 for the Civil War battlefield land acquisition grants program.

Battlefields protected—Grantee, State, Amount

Perryville Battlefield, Boyle County Fiscal Court, Ky., $43,715

Mill Springs Battlefield, Wayne County, Ky., $330,500

Bentonville Battlefield, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, N.C., $168,720

Franklin Battlefield, City of Franklin, Tenn., $112,800

Cool Springs Battlefield, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Va., $1,500,000

Second Manassas Battlefield, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Va., $196,500

Peebles' Farm Battlefield, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Va., $39,881

Totopotomoy Creek Battlefield, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Va., $91,600

Total: $2,483,716

Looking ahead, the Park Service says applications for the remaining balance of the funds can be accepted at any time. Criteria to consider for those applying for the Civil War Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants include:

* The LWCF Civil War Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants are awarded through a competitive process to units of state and local governments.

* Private non-profit groups may apply in partnership with state or local government sponsors;

* Each grant requires a dollar-for-dollar non-federal match.

* Grants are available for the fee simple acquisition of land, or for the acquisition of permanent, protective interests in land at Civil War battlefields listed in the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission's (CWSAC) 1993 Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields.

* Higher consideration will be given to proposals for acquisition of endangered lands at battlefields defined as Priority I or II sites in the CWSAC report.

* Complete guidelines for grant eligibility and application forms are available online at this site.

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NPT readers can find lots more information about battlefield preservation at civilwar.org, the website of the Civil War Trust, the largest private entity working to save these historic lands.