Civil War Wiki

Template:Infobox Non-profit

The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) is a charitable organization (501c-3) whose primary focus is in the preservation of American Civil War battlefields. The Civil War Preservation Trust also promotes educational programs and heritage tourism initiatives to inform the public of the war's history and the fundamental conflicts that sparked it.


The modern Civil War battlefield preservation movement was first undertaken by the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (APCWS), which was founded in 1987. APCWS not only protected thousands of acres of battlefields from destruction, but offered educational tours and seminars with prominent historians.

The Civil War Trust, another non-profit focused on preserving Civil War battlefields, was formed in 1991. The Civil War Trust helped save 6,700 acres (27 km2) of land in the eight years of its existence and conducted education and heritage tourism programs to educate the public about the significance of the war and the vital importance of battlefield preservation.

The Civil War Preservation Trust was created on November 19, 1999, through the merger of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (APCWS) with the Civil War Trust. The merger, which was propelled by a unanimous vote of both boards, was effected in order to streamline and strengthen efforts to protect America's most endangered parcels of Civil War history.[1]

The President of the Civil War Preservation Trust is O. James Lighthizer, a former Maryland county executive and Secretary of Transportation who pioneered the concept of using Transportation Enhancement highway funds to protect thousands of acres of Civil War battlefield land in Maryland.

Since its formation the Civil War Preservation Trust has grown to 55,000 contributing members and has saved more than 28,000 acres (110 km2) of American Civil War battlefield land.

CWPT's preservation methods[]


Antietam Battlefield, Maryland

CWPT is a membership-driven organization that uses donated funds to protect Civil War battlefield land. Land is acquired by CWPT from private sector parties at fair market value or by donation. Once land is acquired, CWPT is responsible for land stewardship and interpretation, often with assistance from local governments and other preservation groups.

In cases where a landowner wants to retain ownership CWPT can arrange a conservation easement to protect their property. Conservation easements ensure that the property remains free of development in future years.

In its effort to preserve Civil War battlefields, CWPT will seek to leverage federal and state programs that are designed to foster preservation of historic and natural resources. The primary source of federal support for the preservation of Civil War battlefields is the Civil War Battlefield Protection Program (CWBPP), administered by the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP), an office of the National Park Service. CWBPP is designed to promote the preservation of significant Civil War battlefields by offering competitive matching grants for qualifying preservation opportunities.[2]. Other federal sources include the Transportation Enhancement program and the Farm and Ranch Protection Program. CWPT has also leveraged funds made available by state and local governments.

Battlefield preservation achievements[]

The Civil War Preservation Trust has helped to save more than 25,000 acres (100 km2) of Civil War battlefields at more than 93 Civil War battlefields within 18 different states within the United States.[3]

Key battlefield preservation achievements include:


Jim Lighthizer at Slaughter Pen Farm

The campaign to preserve the 208-acre (0.84 km2) Slaughter Pen Farm is the most expensive private battlefield preservation effort in American history.[4] CWPT, working in partnership with Tricord, Inc., SunTrust Bank, and the Central Virginia Battlefield Trust, was able to purchase the property for $12 million in 2006. To support the preservation efforts at the Slaughter Pen Farm the Department of the Interior awarded a $2 million CWBPP grant based on the significance of the land and the availability of non-federal matching funds. The Slaughter Pen Farm was the largest remaining unprotected part of the Fredericksburg Battlefield. It is also the only place on the battlefield where a visitor can still follow the Union assault on that bloody day from beginning to end.
While the Richmond, Virginia suburbs remain a hotbed for development, CWPT has made significant strides at the Glendale battlefield, preserving 319 acres (1.29 km2) in 2007 and 566 acres (2.29 km2) overall. Fully 75 percent of the battlefield is now preserved. When combined with previous efforts at nearby Malvern Hill, CWPT has now created a three mile (5 km)-long continuous corridor of protected battlefield.
Unique preservation strategies allowed the CWPT to protect 144 acres (0.58 km2) at the heart of the Champion Hill battlefield in 2007. This key portion of the field is still owned by the Champion family, for whom the area and the battle were named, but now is also under conservation easement. As a result the Champion family will maintain ownership of their historic land, while ensuring that their intentions of seeing it protected are realized in perpetuity.

CWPT Preserved Land at Chancellorsville

CWPT has a record of working with preservation-friendly developers to protect battlefield land. In 2004, CWPT worked with Spotsylvania County officials and family-owned Tricord, Inc., to protect 134 acres (0.54 km2) of land associated with the First Day at Chancellorsville Battlefield. Two years later, a similar deal was worked out with Spotsylvania County and Toll Brothers, Inc. to protect another 74 acres (0.30 km2) of this historic battleground.[5] Thanks to these efforts, more than 2 miles (3.2 km) of contiguous battlefield land along the historic Orange Turnpike have been preserved. CWPT is currently working with Virginia Civil War Trails to install an interpretive trail on the property.
In addition to its efforts at the First Day at Chancellorsville site, CWPT has helped protect a further 22 acres (0.089 km2) at Chancellorsville.

As of August 2009 the CWPT has preserved battlefield land at the following sites:

CWPT's grassroots activities[]


A Billboard Drawing Attention to the Proposed Casino at Gettysburg

To further its aim of preserving American Civil War battlefields, the Civil War Preservation Trust has engaged in a wide range of grassroots and community outreach efforts.

No Casino Gettysburg[]

In 2005 a proposal was put forward to build a casino with 3,000 slot machines less than a mile from the Gettysburg Battlefield. Soon after the proposal was announced, CWPT joined forces with a local concerned citizens group called No Casino Gettysburg to advocate against the proposal. Later, CWPT formed the Stop the Slots Coalition, a collection of national and local groups opposed to the casino.

Among the activities CWPT pursued with its coalition partners was an aggressive media campaign to raise public awareness about the casino. One example of this media campaign was an op-ed that appeared on the opinion page of the New York Times condemning the casino.[6] In addition, CWPT commissioned a lengthy study that rebutted many of the economic benefit claims of the casino backers. CWPT also helped circulate a petition opposing the casino, which eventually included more than 34,200 signatures. As a result of these and other grassroots efforts, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board voted on December 20, 2006, to reject the Gettysburg casino proposal.[7]

Chancellorsville rezoning[]

In May 2002, a regional developer announced a plan to build 2,300 houses and 2,000,000 square feet ({{rnd/bExpression error: Unexpected < operator.|Expression error: Unexpected < operator.|(Expression error: Unexpected < operator.)|Expression error: Unexpected < operator. }} m2) of commercial space on the 790-acre (3.2 km2) Mullins Farm, site of the first day of fighting at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Soon thereafter, CWPT formed the Coalition to Save Chancellorsville, a network of national and local preservation groups, that waged a vocal campaign against the development.

For nearly a year, the Coalition mobilized local citizens, held candlelight vigils and hearings, and encouraged residents to become more involved in preservation. Public opinion polling conducted by the Coalition found that more than two-thirds of local residents opposed the development. The survey also found that 90 percent of local residents believed their county has a responsibility to protect Chancellorsville and other historic resources.

As a result of these efforts, in March 2003 the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors denied the rezoning application that would have allowed for the development of the site.[8] Immediately following the vote, CWPT and other Coalition members began working to acquire the battlefield. By working with county officials and developers, CWPT acquired 140 acres (0.57 km2) in 2004 and another 74 acres (0.30 km2) in 2006.[5].

Morris Island[]

With the help of CWPT, the Morris Island Coalition was formed in early 2004 to oppose development on historic Morris Island outside Charleston, South Carolina. Morris Island was the scene of the charge of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry on Fort Wagner, famously depicted in the movie Glory.

The Coalition, led by local resident Blake Hallman, was very successful in generating local government support for preservation of Morris Island.[9] Press reaction was favorable as well, and public opinion polls found that an overwhelming number of Charleston residents wanted to see the barrier island remain undeveloped. Hallman earned CWPT's "Preservationist of the Year" award for his efforts to save Morris Island.[10]

At one time, development plans called for a 20-unit luxury house development on Cummings Point (the site of Fort Wagner). In early 2005, the landowner tried unsuccessfully to sell the property on eBay. At the end of 2005, a preservation-friendly developer acquired the property. He later agreed to sell it to the Trust for Public Land (TPL) for preservation purposes a few months later.

In 2008, the CWPT engaged in fundraising efforts in support of the State of South Carolina, City of Charleston, and the Trust for Public Land’s $3m effort that would preserve an additional 117 acres (0.47 km2) of Morris Island.

Stop the Wilderness Walmart[]

The CWPT is currently engaged with other regional preservation groups to help prevent Wal-Mart from building a 141,000-square-foot (13,100 m2) Supercenter next to the Wilderness battlefield in Orange County, Virginia.[11]

History Under Siege: CWPT's Most Endangered Battlefields[]


Marching across the Cedar Creek battlefield, photo by Larry Solvey

Each year the CWPT produces a report identifying the ten most endangered Civil War battlefields in the United States. The report, entitled History Under Siege,[12] was announced on March 18, 2009, and included the following Civil War battlefields:

The 2009 History Under Siege: Most Endangered Civil War Battlefields report news conference also featured a keynote speech by the Oscar-award winning actor and CWPT supporter Richard Dreyfuss.

Educational Programs[]


Volunteers Help Clean up the Battlefields on Park Day

In addition to preserving Civil War battlefield land, CWPT conducts programs designed to inform the public about the events and consequences of the Civil War, foster an understanding of the need for preservation, and create a personal connection to the past.

  • Annual CWPT Teacher Institute - CWPT annually conducts a three-day institute featuring workshops and visits to major Civil War battlefields to improve teacher knowledge of, and ability to teach, the Civil War to this generation of 5th, 8th and 11th graders.
  • Hallowed Ground - CWPT's quarterly magazine, includes articles on history, preservation techniques and upcoming events.
  • CWPT Website - which includes educational information on the Civil War, battlefield maps, photographs, recommended book lists, and historical information on battlefield preservation.
  • Public Education - CWPT maintains a two-week curriculum for use in classrooms.[13]
  • Civil War Discovery Trail - a heritage tourism initiative that links more than 600 Civil War sites in 32 states,[14] and promotes visitation through themed itineraries; it is one of the White House Millennium Council's sixteen flagship National Millennium Trails.
  • Battlefield Interpretation - wayside signs, brochures, and driving tours.
  • Park Day - an annual volunteer clean-up day for the Civil War sites throughout the United States.
  • Teacher and Student Programs - multiple programs ranging from a poster and essay contest for kids to workshops and curriculum guides for teachers.


CWPT is located in Washington, D.C., with a field office in Hagerstown, Maryland.

The President of CWPT is O. James Lighthizer. Lighthizer was a former partner, Miles and Stockbridge; former Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, Anne Arundel County Executive, and member of the Maryland General Assembly.

In December 1999, Mr. Lighthizer accepted the presidency of Civil War Preservation Trust, a new organization created by the merger of two other national battlefield preservation groups, the Civil War Trust and the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites. Mr. Lighthizer had previously served as a member of the Civil War Trust's Board of Trustees.

When Lighthizer took the reins at CWPT in 1999, the fledgling organization had 22,000 members and its predecessor organizations had saved 7,500 acres (30 km2) in the previous 13 years. During Lighthizer's tenure as President of the CWPT, the group has saved more than 18,000 additional acres, and now boasts 65,000 members nationwide. Lighthizer was also the architect of the rescue of the Slaughter Pen Farm on the Fredericksburg Battlefield, the most expensive private battlefield preservation effort in American history.[15].

John L. Nau in June 2009 was elected as the Chairman of the Board of the Civil War Preservation Trust. Nau is a graduate of the University of Virginia; President and CEO of Silver Eagle Distributors, Inc.; Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation; Chairman of the Texas Historical Commission; and a National Trustee for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.


CWPT was a recipient of a 4-Star award from Charity Navigator in 2007. This award is presented to those charitable organizations that exhibit strong results and financial discipline.[16]


External links[]