Richmond Battlefields Association…*sigh*

12 09 2007

I received in the mail the other day the newsletter from the Richmond Battlefields Association, a local group involved in Civil War battlefield preservation.  In it was a story about the early attempts to secure and interpret battlefields in the 1920s & 1930s.  Douglas Freeman, among others were instrumental in saving a majority of the Battlefields that the National Park Service now owns around Richmond. The story goes into the old Richmond Battlefield Parks Corporation’s efforts to preserve the sites and build roads connecting them so that Richmond’s Battlefields would attract as many as go to see Gettysburg.

Okay, fast forward 80 some years later.  We have a good amount of battlefields protected, but A LOT not protected and even more lost forever.  The writer of this newsletter called the efforts to protect certain sites north of the James an “utter failure”.

That’s a little harsh.  True, the did not succeed, but it makes it seem like they slacked off and didn’t get the job done.  I have read that they tried to secure quite a bit of property to protect, but land prices were too high (surprise) and the Great Depression hindered fundraising.  I know they wanted to protect sites that still today are left to the whim of developers.  Powhite, Dr. Gaines’ farm in Hanover is one site, but it was just too much to afford in the ’20s (even today it’s way overpriced).  Grapevine Bridge area, just too expensive.

These folks worked hard to get the ball rolling on battlefield preservation.  True I wish their dreams had come true, but unfortunately, it didn’t.  That just leaves it to us to carry out this mission.

They efforts weren’t an utter failure in terms of certain sites, it was just too much of an uphill battle.

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