Heritage & News - August 2002

Corinth, MS: 'endangered' status - Bristoe Station, VA: development (2) -Gettysburg PA: replanting (2)


Compiled by David Hughes




A preservation group has named the battleground at Corinth, MS, to its list of the 10 most endangered Civil War battlefields, less than two years after Congress added part of the battlefield to Shiloh National Military Park.



Congress in 2000 agreed to add 230 acres around Corinth to Shiloh because the battles were part of the same campaign. Lawmakers also appropriated $9 million for an interpretive center on 20 acres off of U.S. 45. Corinth was the jumping-off point for the Confederate Army of Mississippi that attacked the Union Army of the Ohio on April 6-7, 1862, at Shiloh, TN, 23 miles to the north.


After that bloody battle, the Confederates retreated to Corinth, which fell after a two-month siege. Corinth was such an important railroad junction for the region that another Confederate force abandoned Memphis after its fall.


The Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission, which is charged with protecting battlefield sites, identified parcels in immediate danger of being developed unless money is found to purchase them. One 51-acre site on Wenasoga Road, still with earthen works from the siege, was nearly sold for a mobile home park last summer, said Ms. Rosemary Williams, chair of the group.

The developer offered the Commission the land for $240,000, for a limited period of time. Rep. Roger Wicker (R-MS) said Congress last year set aside $11 million to preserve Civil War battlefields; the grants require a 50 percent local match.


An 8-acre lot is for sale near the future interpretive center, but Williams warned that "Any sort of fast food or convenience store or service station could go upon that site."




A developer and Civil War buffs found themselves on the same side recently in Prince William County, MD, on the site of the 1863 Battle of Bristoe Station, according to a report in 'The Washington Post' by staff writer Steven Ginsberg, and forwarded to the ACWRT (UK) by Michael Hammerson.


The Board of County Supervisors unanimously approved development plans for the battlefield that include hundreds of homes and commercial space after the builder promised to preserve 127 acres and allow archaeologists to do an extensive search for unmarked soldiers' graves. County officials and preservationists described the deal as a virtually unprecedented case of cooperation. The area around Bristoe Station is known for its struggles between Civil War preservationists and developers.


The development company, Centex Homes, was said to have succeeded where others have failed because it recognized from the start that preserving the battlefield was the path, not the obstacle, to the realisation of its plans. Had the company not been willing to preserve some of the land, county officials and preservationists said they would not have been willing to accept development on any of it.


"Frankly,(Centex) took it beyond what we expected by a wide margin," said Planning Director Rick Lawson. "Once the ball was in the air, they were pretty remarkable in terms of their willingness to adjust their plans to accommodate the evidence that there was something worth preserving."


Last fall, a divisive year-long fight close to nearby Winchester ended when a proposal for an industrial park on the Stephenson's Depot and Third Winchester battlefields was turned down by officials under intense pressure from preservationists. Earlier this year, a decision on a housing project near Chantilly in Fairfax County was put on hold because preservationists and the developer could not agree on a suitable plan for the site, which includes Civil War relics.


New Bristow Village, just south of the site of the 1863 Battle of Manassas, is planned as a mix of 520 homes and 175,000 square feet of office and commercial space designed as a 19th century village with traditional neighborhood streets, alleys, greens and parks clustered on 214 acres of the 341-acre property. The battlefield will be transformed from farmland and woods into a passive Heritage Park, with walking paths and signs explaining the engagement.


Jim Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Preservation Trust, which will control and operate Heritage Park, said he had all but given up on preserving the site until he got an out-of- the-blue call from Centex.


"They said, 'What do you want?' And I drew a line based on historians, and they said, 'Fine.' It was about a 10-minute conversation. Occasionally, you have somebody in the land development business throw you a bone of a few acres, but for somebody to give you the entire core battlefield is truly remarkable."





Gettysburg National Military Park has planted 16,000 upland shrubs to re- establish the historic Codori-Trostle thicket on the battlefield to re-create the appearance of the 1863 site where major battle action took place. Wetland shrubs planted along the banks of Plum Run will also meet the goals of the initiative. Once the elderberry, blackberry, spice bush, alder, sumac and other native shrubs have become established, the remaining non-historic trees in the thicket area will he removed to restore the area to its appearance at the time of the battle.


"Bringing the area back to the way it appeared at the time of the fighting will dramatically improve visitor understanding," said Dr. John Latschar, park superintendent.


The National Park Service intends to restore as much as possible the historic terrain, fence lines and views of the battlefield. The project will be phased over the next 15 years and will include the replacement of historic fence lines, orchards and farm lanes as well as the return of grasslands, farm lanes, orchards and woodlands that played important roles in the battle. The goals of the project are to restore Gettysburg’s historic integrity; enhance visitor opportunities and understanding; and create a sustainable historic environment by improving wetlands, water quality and wildlife habitat. Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg are raising $25million for battlefield preservation


© ACWRT(UK) 2002