$4.2 million to go to preservation of historic Virginia battlefields

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia is getting $4.2 million to preserve nine historic battlefields.

The grants were awarded through the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, which is funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

“When we are able to preserve these sites, these become classrooms,” said Richmond National Battlefield Park Superintendent David Ruth.

Ruth said the sites are used for education, remembrance, training grounds and tourism. Visiting them is growing in popularity.

“We’re seeing numbers that are even greater than those that we experienced during the 150th anniversary,” he said.

On Monday, Mark McTague made the drive from Suffolk to visit some of the sites. He was retracing the steps of the Seven Days Battles of 1862.

“I started earlier in the morning up at ChickahomIny Bluff and worked my way down,” said McTague.

He ended up at Malvern Hill Battlefield. He said being there brings history to life.

“I looked at maps, but it doesn’t tell the whole story,” he said. “To get context, to really understand the terrain and whatnot, you have to come out here.”

McTague said he supports the grants and protecting the historic land from development.

“You lose a part of your heritage because of the encroachment. The commercial encroachment is such that we’ll lose it forever,” he said.

The FY 2018 budget proposes a 15 percent cut to the American Battlefield Protection Program, an 84 percent cut to LWCF and a 12 percent overall cut to the Department of the Interior.

“Virginia is home to some of our nation’s most significant history, and this National Park Service program has been invaluable in partnering with the Civil War Trust and localities to protect these sites from development. Preserving this land is critical to ensuring that our children and their children can learn from our past,” Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine said in a joint statement about the grants.

We won’t know what — if anything — is cut until the budget is finalized.

“We really don’t know what might be in store, but we’re just progressing as optimistically and as cheerfully as we possibly can,” said Ruth.

Here is the list of the historic battlefields that will receive funding from the Department of the Interior:

  • The Second Manassas Battlefield will receive $256,925 in federal funding.
  • The Trevilian Station Battlefield will receive $30,515 in federal funding.
  • The Opequon Battlefield will receive $1,466,339 in federal funding.
  • The New Market Battlefield will receive $232,680.53 in federal funding.
  • The Malvern Hill Battlefield will receive $1,707,750 in federal funding.
  • Kelly’s Ford Battlefield will receive $169,840.50 in federal funding.
  • The Appomattox Court House Battlefield will receive $130,754 in federal funding.
  • The Gaines Mill Battlefield will receive $144,965 in federal funding.
  • The Fredericksburg I Battlefield will receive $68,493.50 in federal funding.