I promise that this blog won’t be a boring recitation of dry facts.
In January 2019, House Representatives from Virginia, Georgia, and New York introduced a bill (HR307) calling for government to, first, commence activities to quickly and proactively preserve and protect battlefields of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and the Civil War. Secondly, the bill would help to create partnerships between state and local governments, regional entities, and the private sector to preserve, conserve, and enhance visitor experience at nationally significant battlefields.
Why is this an important and necessary step in the right direction? The numbers say it all. Let’s look at the 383 Civil War battlefields specifically:
A – only at 31 battlefields is more than half of the surviving landscape permanently protected;
B – at 227 battlefields, less than half of the surviving landscape is permanently protected;
C – 65 battlefields have no protection at all; and
D – 113 battlefields have been severely hampered by development since the Civil War or are on the verge of being overwhelmed.
For the 243 principal Revolutionary War and War of 1812, the numbers look more dire:
A – Almost 70% lie within urban areas as denoted in the 2000 U.S. Census;
B – 141 are lost or extremely fragmented, with residential and commercial development being the chief threats;
C – 100 other battlefields retain significant features and lands from the period of battle, although on average these battlefields retain only 37% of the original historic scene;
D – of these 100 surviving but diminished battle landscapes, 82 are partially owned and protected by public and nonprofit stewards, although the extent of that protection varies from site to site; and
E – 18 are without any legal protection.
Those of you who visit my website and read my blogs understand why battlefields are deserving of preservation and protection. If you regularly write to your congressional representatives, or even if you haven’t ever done that before, now is the time to make your opinion known. This bill is requesting $20,000,000 over a period of 10 years to fund projects and activities designed to save what can be saved, as quickly as possible. Divided up among all US taxpayers, that’s not going to be noticed at all when you file your next year’s tax return. What you will eventually notice is that the historic battlefield that you remember visiting today may not be there tomorrow.
The report of Civil War data prepared by the National Park Service and updated in 2012.
Revolutionary War and War of 1812 data prepared by the National Park Service in its report to Congress in 2007.