This week in our Preservation News, we share with you a message from Tom Van Winkle, president of the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust. The CVBT works tirelessly to preserve and interpret battlefields in Central Virginia. If you have not already given your support to the CVBT you can become a member by clicking here. While you are there, explore their website and learn about the great work CVBT has done over the years and continues to do today, as well as how you can get involved.
“Message from the President”
It seems as only yesterday I penned the end of year message for CVBT. It was our twentieth anniversary then, and now we are poised to enter our twenty second year of preserving our nation’s Civil War battlefields in 2018.
To date the CVBT has effectively saved over 1,200 acres of battlefields that would most certainly become strip malls and fast food franchises. The Civil War battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness and Spotsylvania Courthouse left over 100,000 casualties in their wake, and those soldiers, as well as civilians, cry out to have their stories told and to not be forgotten.
CVBT has worked aggressively with developers this past year and effected changes in those projects that have mitigated the destruction of key battlefield areas. These parcels were not able to be purchased for any reasonable amount by us or our partners. In January CVBT closed on another important section of the Chancellorsville battlefield now known as the “Kinney Tract”. We then reclaimed the battlefield by demolishing a structurally unsound house and capped the well. In 2013 CVBT did much the same when
we purchased and demolished another long-standing battlefield eyesore just a few yards away, thesouvenir complex known as “the Castle”. Both of these properties a crucial part of “Stonewall” Jackson’s flank attack.
2017 saw a visit to our CVBT office by U.S. Congressman Rob Whittman to thank us for our hard work and to pledge his support. CVBT’s Government Relations Director, Jack Blalock, has begun working with state and local politicians and county supervisors cultivating relationships as well as conveying the importance and positive results of saving our battlefields.
Being able to preserve battlefields not only pays homage to the fallen Americans who fought on them, but it also creates green spaces and draws tourists to bolster the area’s economy. We are rapidly losing those open areas where we, as humans, may slow down and take in the natural surroundings. Our local economies benefit greatly from preserving our Civil War battlefields as well. Visitors stay longer and spend more in these historical areas. The Fredericksburg area has a unique opportunity to attract these tourists yet many of our county supervisors do not seem to see this and still follow the “If you build it they will come” attitude. This is where CVBT works to change this perception locally.
In this addition of SkirmishLine you will read about Elizabeth Heffernan, CVBT’s newly hired Executive Director. Elizabeth comes to CVBT with a wealth of marketing, membership and organizational management experience. Elizabeth also is a powerhouse of energy and ideas. We look forward to a bright future with Elizabeth at the helm. Elizabeth’s assistant, Travis Wakeman, continues to move CVBT ahead in the social media world with Facebook, custom CVBT videos and more.
One of our newest board members, Paul Scott, former president of the Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg, is creating a new membership platform inclusive of levels that will better recognize all our members and our long time and high performing supporters as well.
With new CVBT social media outreach, government relations, membership program and Executive Director, as well as more preserved battlefield land, 2017 has proved to be a year of progress.
With several major battlefield preservation land projects in the works currently, CVBT looks forward to be able to announce some great “saves” in 2018.
All of us, and that includes all of you, our preservation partners, should be proud of what we have and still accomplish.
Also, don’t forget the dates of our annual meeting, dinner, and tours for 2018, this year’s theme “Beyond Spotsylvania.” April 20th through the 22nd will be packed with great tours, and dinner with Bob Zeller presenting a 3D Civil War photo program you can’t miss!
Tom Van Winkle
Central Virginia Battlefields Trust