Save Cold Harbor!

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Michigan, United States
#1
A message from Jim Lighthizer, Civil War Trust President
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. . . That evening [June 2], in a tapering drizzle, Grant’s aide Horace Porter picked his way through the troops . . . to deliver orders for the morning assault. He noticed that many soldiers, who usually wore their coats day and night, in sun and rain, now had them off, and seemed to be making repairs to them . . . Then he could see that they were not sewing up rips. They were being calmly realistic, writing their names and addresses on slips of paper and pinning these to the backs of their coats, “so that their dead bodies might be recognized upon the field, and their fate made known to their families at home.”

Excerpt from Not War But Murder: Cold Harbor 1864 by Ernest B. Furgurson






lighthizer-square.jpg

Jim Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust.
December 6, 2017
Dear Valued Friend and Member,
Those boys in blue sure knew exactly what lay ahead of them at Cold Harbor, didn’t they?

Can you imagine, for even a moment, being one of those soldiers, with the odds so stacked against you, knowing you had so little chance for success that you were calmly preparing to die?

Yet, as you well know, when the call came, those fated, brave men went forward with every ounce of strength they had.

My friend, that is exactly – with your help – what the Civil War Trust is doing right now, ironically, on that same hallowed battlefield.

As the clock ticks down to the end of the year, I really did not want to “press my luck” by sending any more pleas for your help in 2017.

But as I write this letter to you, the Civil War Trust has the historic opportunity to save 55 acres of the most important unprotected land anywhere on the Cold Harbor battlefield. And trust me, the odds are stacked pretty heavily against us, too. Quite frankly, I cannot hope to save this hallowed ground without your help and generosity.

First, the history: In his memoirs published after the war, U.S. Grant wrote, “I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made . . . no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained. Indeed, the advantages other than those of relative losses, were on the Confederate side.”

I realize that reading about the dreadful fighting at the Battle of Cold Harbor does not make for “light” holiday reading, but it is so important to hear these words that I hope you will forgive me.

When you read the accounts written by the soldiers who survived this horrific battle, over and over they recalled things like, “Men could not live in the fire poured on them from front and flanks,” and “a storm of bullets, shot, and shell that no human power could withstand,” and “it was deadly and bloody work” with men “simply melting away under the fury of our fire.”

Confederate Brigadier General Evander McIver Law wrote perhaps the most famous assessment of this battle: “I had seen the dreadful carnage in front of Marye’s Hill at Fredericksburg, and on the ‘old railroad cut’ which Jackson’s men held at Second Manassas; but I had seen nothing to exceed this. It was not war; it was murder.”

Cold-Harbor-June-1-1864-%28October-2017%29%281140px%29.jpg


Today, as you can see on the battle maps, you and I have the chance to preserve five absolutely crucial tracts that saw terrible fighting on both June 1 and June 3, 1864.

Four of these tracts are small, one is very large, but they are all tremendously important in telling this battle’s story directly on the land where it happened. And all the tracts add significant protected acres to this battlefield, which we are slowly, acre by acre, preserving for future generations.

Let me draw your attention on the map to the two tracts nearest where the “arrows come together,” the place where the Union attacking columns attempted to break the Confederate line.

Historian Gordon Rhea, in his magisterial history of the battle, Cold Harbor: Grant and Lee, May 26-June 3, 1864, describes the ill-fated Union assault on June 3 into this part of the Confederate defensive line when he says:

“The Confederates slaughtered Baldy Smith’s soldiers as they came into range, shredding Stedman’s, Stannard’s, and Marston’s narrow columns from front to back much as a sharpener grinds a pencil.”

Historian Robert E. L. Krick tells us that those three brigades “suffered more than 1,500 casualties in a very brief but disastrous span of time,” attempting to carry that part of the line where the earthworks were shaped like a letter “V”.

Both Krick and Rhea describe this part of the Confederate defensive line as a “trap” for the unsuspecting Union regiments who advanced into it where, in just a few minutes, “the ground was swept with canister and rifle bullets until it was literally covered with slain.”

About 100 yards of the entrenchments that made up the right “arm” of that Confederate “V” still exist on this tract, which connects on two sides with the existing national park, so if we can save this ground, we will be saving those priceless historic resources as well. Just to show you what can easily happen, the northern part of those same entrenchments was leveled by local farming long ago, and is now lost forever.

The threat of careless farming is now magnified many times over by the very real threat of residential development across the large tract that runs north to south on your maps for nearly half a mile. This is one of the larger tracts left to save at Cold Harbor, and, as you can clearly see, it connects separated parcels that were previously preserved by the Civil War Trust and Richmond Battlefields Association, and now owned by the National Park Service.

Again, historian Krick tells us that this tract saw significant action on June 1, with portions of the 6th and 18th Corps sweeping across this land to attack Confederate infantry which was just then entrenching. He says, “the first substantial casualties occurred here when the Federal line drove Confederate skirmishers out of their rifle pits.”

The two other tracts are both small but essential additions to completing the “puzzle” of this incredibly important and threatened battlefield, as residential and commercial development continues to sweep outward into the suburbs of Richmond. If we don’t save this land now, we may never have another chance.

But let me warn you: It will not be easy, and it will not be quick.

Here is the challenge we face: It will cost $2.5 million to preserve these five tracts at Cold Harbor. The price is so high because several of the tracts have modern homes on them that must be purchased and then removed. It is also extremely valuable real estate.

And unfortunately for us, because of where these parcels are located, we do not have access to the usual dollar-for-dollar battlefield matching grants. Those grants can only be used to save battlefield land that lies outside of the “congressionally authorized boundary” of a battlefield, and all of these tracts lie within that somewhat arbitrary boundary.

That is a very harsh reality, but it does not mean all is lost for us. Providentially, we have an excellent, generous, and committed friend who lives in the Richmond area, and he is willing to help save this hallowed ground by committing $837,000, or approximately 33% of what we need!

That means we still need to raise $1,670,000 to save this land. This is obviously a lot more than we normally need to raise, so I know it will take some extra time and multiple fundraising campaigns (unless there is another angel out there who wants to make this effort their legacy) to raise all that we need by September 2018. But we must start immediately – putting this off means risking losing this hallowed ground.

You and I both know the clock is ticking on this hallowed ground. If we don’t save these acres, you can bet a developer will buy them. And you can imagine how much new housing developments or gas stations and convenience stores would ruin the historical integrity of the battlefield!

And while there are no current funds available for the Richmond National Battlefield park to buy this land from us, it is my hope that you and I can eventually sell this land to the park, and get back most of our investment, to re-invest on other tracts of hallowed ground on the outskirts of Richmond.

My friend, as you are deciding on your final year-end giving priorities, I ask you to please consider making your most generous possible gift toward this unique opportunity. Not to downplay the good work being done by any other charity you support, but if you want your generosity to be increased by 33% and help save land at one of America’s most important Civil War battlefields, I hope you will consider sending a final 2017 gift to the Civil War Trust today.

Like those Union boys at Cold Harbor, I know that the task before us will not be easy. But if you’ll stay by my side, I know we will succeed.

Today, in the season of giving, I ask you to give the gift of history, not only for yourself, but also for your children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren who will need to know the story of America, and our history.

And while I wish I could do more to show you my gratitude for your dedication, I hope you will accept the enclosed “Certificate of Grateful Appreciation” that I have enclosed for you. I know it is not much, but please accept it as my sincere thankfulness for all you do for the great cause of battlefield preservation.

You are the hero of our story. It is only through your generosity that we have been able to save as much hallowed ground as we have – now about 48,000 acres – and it is only through your generosity today that we can begin to save these acres at Cold Harbor from complete destruction.

And now, as the year draws to a close, I must end my final letter of 2017 to you by saying that I simply cannot tell you how important your help has meant to me personally, and to this cause.

Please join me in taking advantage of the generous $837,000 matching gift that is on the table by making your gift to help save Cold Harbor today. If you want your gift to be deductible from your 2017 taxes, please donate online no later than midnight on December 31.

I hope to hear back from you soon. Please accept my best wishes for a wonderful Christmas for you and your family, and a prosperous New Year! Thank you very much.

Fighting for our history,

jim-lighthizer-signature_0.png


Jim Lighthizer
President

P.S. I honestly don’t know what I would do without you. Thank you a thousand times over for reading my letter to you in this busy time of year, and thank you for considering joining in the campaign to save this land at Cold Harbor!

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dlavin

First Sergeant
Joined
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#5
Looks like one guy has deep pockets...$837,000.

I enjoy getting these opportunities in the mail, especially because they come with maps usually, but save the postage man and put it toward these opportunities.

Cold Harbor is under-preserved compared to the size of the battle, but it does come at a hefty cost in today's market.
 

bdtex

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#10
I visited Cold Harbor on a cold Monday morning in January 2016. In the 3.5 years I have been doing this,that was one of my favorite battlefield tours. I don't have deep pockets but I gotta look at my budget and kick in something. I am sure the funds will be put to good use somewhere else if they are unable to meet the target for Cold Harbor.
 

USS ALASKA

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#11
American Battlefield Trust offer makes Wade park uncertain

  • By Jim Ridolphi for The Mechanicsville Local
  • Oct 2, 2018

HANOVER -- The land surrounding the crossroads where Cold Harbor Road meets Rockhill Road hasn’t changed much in the 150 years since soldiers faced off in a significant battle during the Civil War.

In the past several months, residents feared all of that would change if an approved park for the land proceeded. And for all intents and purposes, it seemed like it would.

That all changed when Scott Wyatt, who represents the Cold Harbor District on the Hanover County Board of Supervisors, requested a deferral on a Conditional Use Permit that would have rezoned property outlined for the new park named for former supervisor Elton Wade Sr.

Gilmore said he couldn’t immediately think of another site in the United States where two battles, Gaines Mill and Cold Harbor, intersected.

“There’s probably no other site in the U.S. where that is the case,” Gilmore said. “From a historic importance perspective, I would say there’s not an equivalent in terms of what we are trying to preserve across the United States.”

The Trust, based in Washington, D.C., receives most to its funding through the American Battlefield Protection Program.

Gilmore is a real estate expert with the Trust, the largest land trust group involved in preserving Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War sites.

“I’m here tonight to express our interest in acquiring the site of the Elton Wade Park. Specifically, the 50 acres is located on the Cold Harbor battlefield,” Gilmore said.

Of the 384 recognized battlefield sites in the United States, each is given an A through D grade to designate its importance or significance. The land in question gained an A rating, signifying top priority in historical importance

Thomas Gilmore of the American Battlefield Trust said the land in question represents a significant and unique slice of American history — a site worth preserving in perpetuity.

“They are equivalent in importance to Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, Manassas — all the famous sites associated with the [Civil] war,” Gilmore said.

“What we would propose is to work with the county and basically work out some sort of purchase agreement where we could actually buy this property and preserve it and eventually open it up to the public,” Gilmore said.

David Adams has lived in Cold Harbor for 57 years, a fifth generation citizen. He also noted the significance of a small crossroads where east meets west and north meets south.

“It was at these crossroads where two grand armies maneuvered against each other, not once but twice,” Adams said. “Historians tell us that few other Civil War locations contain an intersection providing this number of militarily valuable pathways.”

“I urge the Hanover County Board of Supervisors to adopt a vision for the future for one of the most historic sites within our county,” Adams said.

Frances Carmack, another fifth generation Hanoverian, said the park was a bad fit for the area for its inception.

“I don’t think the county thought through the whole idea of a park at this location very thoroughly,” Carmack said. “I’ve contended all along that the needed athletic facilities be located somewhere it could be expanded to a larger athletic facility when needed.”

She also cited historical concerns regarding the proposed park.

“The Cold Harbor location is an historic area that should be kept as part of the conservation of the battlefield, and in time it will bring greater tourism to the area,” Carmeck said. “What was presented as a park is really an athletic complex.”

Wyatt said he expects a legitimate offer from the American Battlefield Trust within the coming weeks.

“The American Battlefield Trust has contacted the county and are interested in purchasing the 55 acres that the county has slated for the park,” Wyatt said. “They feel the historical significance of the Cold Harbor District would meet their desire to preserve that area.”

Wyatt said the county is ready to listen to the proposal.

“The county is going to give them the opportunity, if it’s equitable for the county and its taxpayers, to preserve that piece and look for property elsewhere,” Wyatt said. “It could allow us to provide a park in an area where there is more density and make it more easily accessible for the citizens.”

While one supervisor called the potential purchase a viable option, he said any final decision depends on just what kind of offer is made.


Full article with pic can be found here - https://www.richmond.com/news/local...cle_2ae2fed4-c64b-11e8-8f76-5324779fe0b5.html
485

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USS ALASKA
 

USS ALASKA

2nd Lieutenant
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#13
Wade Park’s fate still in limbo as sale talks continue
  • By Jim Ridolphi for The Mechanicsville Local
  • Oct 23, 2018
HANOVER — The fate of Wade Park at Cold Harbor still hangs in the balance as the Hanover County Board if Supervisors met in closed session on Wednesday, Oct. 10, to consider the issue.

The county is in negotiations with the American Battlefield Trust to sell the two tracts of land that, up until recently, was slated to become the county’s newest park, a 55-acre facility with six lighted playing fields located near the old Cold Harbor Crossroads.

Residents in the area expressed immediate objection to the proposed park, which they described as more of an athletic complex than a family park.


Plans for the park took a turn last month with officials from the preservation organization approached the board and expressed interest in purchasing the property and establishing it as a Civil War battlefield site.

Full article can be found here - https://www.richmond.com/news/local...cle_22968026-d6cb-11e8-95a1-47ff501df24e.html
591

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USS ALASKA
 

USS ALASKA

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
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Messages
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#14
Sale of Cold Harbor park OK’d
  • By Jim Ridolphi for The Mechanicsville Local
  • Dec 18, 2018
HANOVER – The Hanover County Board of Supervisors approved the sale of about 50 acres of land originally scheduled to become the Elton J. Wade Park in Cold Harbor.
Action was taken during last Wednesday’s regular meeting.
The county will receive a reported $1 million for two tracts of land from the American Battlefield Trust, an organization that preserves the nation’s historical venues and battlefields.


Full article can be found here - https://www.richmond.com/news/local...cle_56fbc82c-02e9-11e9-862e-f7bca2da03f3.html
660

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

dlavin

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 1, 2015
Messages
1,541
Location
North Balt Co., MD
#15
There is very little in the way of preserved land for this battle, which shares land with Gaines Mill. Especially in comparison to the amount of land over which the battle(s) took place.

I am not a local to the area, so I dont know if the sports complex was something needed or just a nice to have. I hope the 'saved' land is put to good use with some interpretive trails or something, knowing of course that takes time.
 

Jamieva

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
Messages
4,026
Location
Midlothian, VA
#16
There's plenty of space in eastern Henrico county to put a park that is not on battlefield land. I agree @dlavin we're never going to get all of Cold Harbor, or anywhere near all of it because of how spread out it is. We just have to keep grabbing what we can.
 

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