Battlefields in Jeopardy; Two in Virginia among 10 Cited

Article excerpt

Byline: Arlo Wagner, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Two nearly 140-year-old Civil War battlefields in Virginia are among 10 in the United States most endangered by developmental sprawl and superhighways, officials of the Civil War Preservation Trust said yesterday.

Six other Virginia sites are listed on a separate list of 15 at-risk battlefields in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, Missouri and Ohio.

"With so many Civil War sites under siege from urban sprawl, we could easily have selected a hundred," said trust President James Lighthizer.

"Real people risked their lives at these battlefields for ideals they cherished above life itself. Allowing these sites to fall prey to development dishonors the memory of their courage and sacrifice," said Civil War historian and preservationist Brian Pohanka.

"The Bush administration has been very supportive of us," said Mr. Lighthizer.

Trust Chairman Carrington Williams of McLean said, "It is vital to motivate local residents if the battlefields are to be saved. We have close to 38,000 members now."

The joining of opposing forces after the Civil War was vital to the creation of the greatest democracy in the world, according to the trust. More than 620,000 Northerners and Southerners died, more than in all American wars from the Revolution through the Vietnam War.

The Civil War results are recognized worldwide. Mr. Williams said people from France, England, Germany and other nations come to America to watch and participate in annual re-enactments of battles.

"An Englishman said to me, 'I don't know why the Civil War fascinates me so much, but it does,'" Mr. Carrington said.

The two most endangered Virginia battlefields are Chancellorsville, along Route 3 between Fredericksburg and Culpeper, and Gaines' Mill and Cold Harbor, a few miles east of the Confederate capital at Richmond.

The Chancellorsville campaign is considered by historians to be Gen. Robert

E. Lee's greatest victory. It was there that his fellow general, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, was killed -accidentally by his own troops.

The sprawl from Fredericksburg already has "devoured" the Salem Church battlefield along Route 3, the trust states. And in October, Virginia's Department of Transportation announced plans for a $121 million bypass near the Chancellorsville battlefield that will attract the same type of sprawl that has sprung up along Route 3. …