More Sacred Land on the Verge of Destruction

VMIKeydet

Private
Joined
Nov 6, 2020
A considerable portion of the New Market Heights Battlefield, where 14 USCT's earned the Medal of Honor, is on the verge of being lost forever: https://richmond.com/news/local/gov...cle_e92dd1be-3124-5e34-94ce-4e685ed2889f.html

A solar farm has taken over the Savage's Station battlefield: https://freebeacon.com/culture/solar-farms-spark-civil-war-in-virginia/

Haw's Shop to be completely annihilated: https://emergingcivilwar.com/2021/05/28/preservation-setback-at-the-haws-shop-battlefield/


These are all from within the last five months. I regularly receive emails from the American Battlefield Trust wanting me to donate to save some small corner of Gettysburg where Union Infantry may have passed through for hundreds of thousands of dollars while actual battlefield land is being destroyed. There's no denying the Trust's success in saving huge swaths of battlefields from destruction, but we've seen more losses and less victories over the last few years. I believe part of the problem arises from the merger of the Civil War Trust and the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites - With two organizations, each held the other's feet to the fire. Now we have one organization with an embarrassingly large payroll and little accountability.

I was also upset to see the Trust requested and received a PPP loan during the pandemic (Pp. 12-13 https://www.battlefields.org/sites/...tlefield Trust - Non-UG - M2019 FINAL (S).pdf) while at the same time its "Chief Historian" was soliciting money so he could take two separate trips to Kentucky and North Carolina. The majority of the "work" done on those trips involved filming actual historians who had knowledge of particular sites. The Trust had very recently held its annual conference in Kentucky. Why was this not done then?

On page 5 of the link above, you'll see that the Trust spent $5 million in 2019 on payroll and travel alone. On page 7 here, you'll see that eleven employees made a combined $2.2 million: https://www.battlefields.org/sites/...RUST_TAX RETURN_CLIENT PD 990_2019 public.pdf

My argument is not that there are corrupt or bad people at the Trust. My point is that it has become a bloated DC company that has strayed from its original purpose. It made its name from doing the right thing. Now it can pay fat salaries and rest on its laurels until its members hold it accountable. I'm tired of seeing fields destroyed where so many men and boys paid the ultimate sacrifice. In my humble opinion, the country's foremost preservation group losing three in less than half a year is unacceptable.
 

Irishtom29

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
Non profits are a good racket. Some are started with the motive of doing certain work and others are started to separate people from their money in order to provide a nice income for those who run it. Some start with the first motive and move on to the second.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
A considerable portion of the New Market Heights Battlefield, where 14 USCT's earned the Medal of Honor, is on the verge of being lost forever: https://richmond.com/news/local/gov...cle_e92dd1be-3124-5e34-94ce-4e685ed2889f.html

A solar farm has taken over the Savage's Station battlefield: https://freebeacon.com/culture/solar-farms-spark-civil-war-in-virginia/

Haw's Shop to be completely annihilated: https://emergingcivilwar.com/2021/05/28/preservation-setback-at-the-haws-shop-battlefield/


These are all from within the last five months. I regularly receive emails from the American Battlefield Trust wanting me to donate to save some small corner of Gettysburg where Union Infantry may have passed through for hundreds of thousands of dollars while actual battlefield land is being destroyed. There's no denying the Trust's success in saving huge swaths of battlefields from destruction, but we've seen more losses and less victories over the last few years. I believe part of the problem arises from the merger of the Civil War Trust and the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites - With two organizations, each held the other's feet to the fire. Now we have one organization with an embarrassingly large payroll and little accountability.

I was also upset to see the Trust requested and received a PPP loan during the pandemic (Pp. 12-13 https://www.battlefields.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/American Battlefield Trust - Non-UG - M2019 FINAL (S).pdf) while at the same time its "Chief Historian" was soliciting money so he could take two separate trips to Kentucky and North Carolina. The majority of the "work" done on those trips involved filming actual historians who had knowledge of particular sites. The Trust had very recently held its annual conference in Kentucky. Why was this not done then?

On page 5 of the link above, you'll see that the Trust spent $5 million in 2019 on payroll and travel alone. On page 7 here, you'll see that eleven employees made a combined $2.2 million: https://www.battlefields.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/AMERICAN BATTLEFIELD TRUST_TAX RETURN_CLIENT PD 990_2019 public.pdf

My argument is not that there are corrupt or bad people at the Trust. My point is that it has become a bloated DC company that has strayed from its original purpose. It made its name from doing the right thing. Now it can pay fat salaries and rest on its laurels until its members hold it accountable. I'm tired of seeing fields destroyed where so many men and boys paid the ultimate sacrifice. In my humble opinion, the country's foremost preservation group losing three in less than half a year is unacceptable.
What are your stats on "more losses and less victories"? Significant large parcels have been getting saved with ABT money at Champion Hill (one done, one underway, both heart of the battlefield), Cold Harbor/Gaines's Mill, and Perryville (heart of the battlefield) - just to name a few. They've saved 88 acres at New Market Heights, including 22 acres added earlier this year. And in the past few years they saved a huge parcel at Glendale.

As for Savage's Station, I don't know the exact significance of this parcel (a lot of the important land disappeared decades ago - split by a massive interstate), but according to the article "... Richmond Battlefield Association, an organization devoted to buying private land that is unprotected by Virginia’s historic registry. ... attempted to purchase Savage’s Station, but other projects took precedent. 'Lots of regrets now—we should have moved heaven and earth to preserve that land' Ramsey said." The ABT frequently works with local groups, so it looks like more than the ABT were "to blame".

You're obviously entitled to your opinion but I really hope that this post doesn't achieve the opposite of what you claim to want, by convincing others to withhold their donations from good projects.
 

VMIKeydet

Private
Joined
Nov 6, 2020
What are your stats on "more losses and less victories"? Significant large parcels have been getting saved with ABT money at Champion Hill (one done, one underway, both heart of the battlefield), Cold Harbor/Gaines's Mill, and Perryville (heart of the battlefield) - just to name a few. They've saved 88 acres at New Market Heights, including 22 acres added earlier this year. And in the past few years they saved a huge parcel at Glendale.

As for Savage's Station, I don't know the exact significance of this parcel (a lot of the important land disappeared decades ago - split by a massive interstate), but according to the article "... Richmond Battlefield Association, an organization devoted to buying private land that is unprotected by Virginia’s historic registry. ... attempted to purchase Savage’s Station, but other projects took precedent. 'Lots of regrets now—we should have moved heaven and earth to preserve that land' Ramsey said." The ABT frequently works with local groups, so it looks like more than the ABT were "to blame".

You're obviously entitled to your opinion but I really hope that this post doesn't achieve the opposite of what you claim to want, by convincing others to withhold their donations from good projects.
For as general as you claim my stats to be, yours are even more so. I have provided three examples in the last five months where the Trust failed to save battlefield land. I have also included a public document showing the payroll for that organization. Both are concerning. The Gaines' Mill purchase was amazing, and we're all very fortunate for that. But the three recent losses are also huge. The Trust is, at present at least, failing us.

When the RBA, an organization led by volunteers and with very little funding, couldn't make the purchase at Savage's Station, the Trust should've stepped in. It failed to do so, and we've lost part of a battlefield because of it. This is simple to me. We can't use past successes as excuses for present failures.
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2021
While I would have to go back and look for actual examples, it does seem like a lot of effort and money is being put into less than significant plots of land in places like Gettysburg which is hardly in need of drastic preservation efforts. Meanwhile, places like Haw's shop that was in pristine condition are being swallowed up by development. Not far away, Savage's station had already been impacted by the building of 295, but enough was intact to warrant a stronger effort to preserve it in my opinion. Same goes for New Market Heights. These three battlefields are also close to large population centers and would be easily accessible. There is also definitely something to be said about management of funding mentioned above as well. Hate to say it, but it seems like a lack of oversight. A lot of funds being allocated for salaries and unnecessary trips that would be better used in purchasing/saving land, especially places like Haw's Shop! Such a shame. It was in beautiful condition! All I can do is be grateful that I was able to visit it several times before it's demise.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
For as general as you claim my stats to be, yours are even more so. I have provided three examples in the last five months where the Trust failed to save battlefield land. I have also included a public document showing the payroll for that organization. Both are concerning. The Gaines' Mill purchase was amazing, and we're all very fortunate for that. But the three recent losses are also huge. The Trust is, at present at least, failing us.

When the RBA, an organization led by volunteers and with very little funding, couldn't make the purchase at Savage's Station, the Trust should've stepped in. It failed to do so, and we've lost part of a battlefield because of it. This is simple to me. We can't use past successes as excuses for present failures.
I listed specific, large parcels at three (four) battlefields that have been saved by ABT. In addition, I added 88 acres (including 22 just this year) at one of the three battlefields you're going on about. Nobody's using "past successes as excuses for present failures" [if that is in fact what they are]. Neither should anybody use "present failures" [if that's in fact what they are] as an excuse to prevent future successes.

Statements such as "the Trust is, at present at least, failing us" are flat out untrue. Both Champion Hill parcels are 2021. As I keep pointing out, 22 acres of one of your named sites is 2021. In 2021 they've been raising money to save properties at Mansfield, Deep Bottom (39 acres - I'm sure you've heard of it) and the Wilderness (36 acres). In 2021 Reams Station, Mill Springs, Port Hudson, and Raymond. This past December they saved 22 acres at Williamsburg. That's a lot of current "failures", eh. The fact that you may not have an affinity for the western battlefields doesn't speak too strongly about a commitment to preservation, but the fact that you simply don't mention 2021 efforts in the very geographic area you point to is baffling.

Now, speaking of specifics and out of curiosity, what occurred during the battle on the Savage's Station parcel and what do you know about it being brought to the ABT's attention?
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
While I would have to go back and look for actual examples, it does seem like a lot of effort and money is being put into less than significant plots of land in places like Gettysburg which is hardly in need of drastic preservation efforts. Meanwhile, places like Haw's shop that was in pristine condition are being swallowed up by development. Not far away, Savage's station had already been impacted by the building of 295, but enough was intact to warrant a stronger effort to preserve it in my opinion. Same goes for New Market Heights. These three battlefields are also close to large population centers and would be easily accessible. There is also definitely something to be said about management of funding mentioned above as well. Hate to say it, but it seems like a lack of oversight. A lot of funds being allocated for salaries and unnecessary trips that would be better used in purchasing/saving land, especially places like Haw's Shop! Such a shame. It was in beautiful condition! All I can do is be grateful that I was able to visit it several times before it's demise.
Feel free to give me examples. I've named several parcels that have real historic importance - just for example, look at a map and see the location of the Champion Hill properties. With all due respect, you're cherry picking ones you personally place higher than others. A lot of other people might make the opposite choices. You're also not mentioning several just this year that would seem to fit your list. You have "faves" but we all do. A lot of this work also involves complications, partnerships, lobbying, markting, and complex legal arrangements. It's not simply putting up a GoFundMe page.
 

VMIKeydet

Private
Joined
Nov 6, 2020
I listed specific, large parcels at three (four) battlefields that have been saved by ABT. In addition, I added 88 acres (including 22 just this year) at one of the three battlefields you're going on about. Nobody's using "past successes as excuses for present failures" [if that is in fact what they are]. Neither should anybody use "present failures" [if that's in fact what they are] as an excuse to prevent future successes.

Statements such as "the Trust is, at present at least, failing us" are flat out untrue. Both Champion Hill parcels are 2021. As I keep pointing out, 22 acres of one of your named sites is 2021. In 2021 they've been raising money to save properties at Mansfield, Deep Bottom (39 acres - I'm sure you've heard of it) and the Wilderness (36 acres). In 2021 Reams Station, Mill Springs, Port Hudson, and Raymond. This past December they saved 22 acres at Williamsburg. That's a lot of current "failures", eh. The fact that you may not have an affinity for the western battlefields doesn't speak too strongly about a commitment to preservation, but the fact that you simply don't mention 2021 efforts in the very geographic area you point to is baffling.

Now, speaking of specifics and out of curiosity, what occurred during the battle on the Savage's Station parcel and what do you know about it being brought to the ABT's attention?
If a preservation organization's losing three battlefields in five months while receiving PPE funds and paying its "Chief Historian" almost $200,000 isn't failing at its job, then we're simply not going to see eye-to-eye here.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
If a preservation organization's losing three battlefields in five months while receiving PPE funds and paying its "Chief Historian" almost $200,000 isn't failing at its job, then we're simply not going to see eye-to-eye here.
They don't bat 1.000. Neither do you or anybody else. You keep ignoring the numerous specific parcels I listed for just this year - including 22 acres at one of the alleged "failures" you list - not because you have an answer but because it's inconvenient to the agenda. Hopefully other posters won't be misled into ensuring that there are real "failures" by withholding donations for the many worthwhile projects that are underway and the others that will come up. Keep your money away from saving those parcels - well done.
 

VMIKeydet

Private
Joined
Nov 6, 2020
They don't bat 1.000. Neither do you or anybody else. You keep ignoring the numerous specific parcels I listed for just this year - including 22 acres at one of the alleged "failures" you list - not because you have an answer but because it's inconvenient to the agenda. Hopefully other posters won't be misled into ensuring that there are real "failures" by withholding donations for the many worthwhile projects that are underway and the others that will come up. Keep your money away from saving those parcels - well done.
Your devotion to the Trust is deep. Mine once was as well, but they've lost me. I hope they will soon right the ship! I'll happily support them again if that day comes.

Here are organizations I recommend that fully devote themselves to battlefield preservation:

http://www.saverichmondbattlefields.org/
https://www.cvbt.org/
https://scbattlegroundtrust.org/
http://www.georgiabattlefields.org/home.aspx
https://www.shenandoahatwar.org/
http://www.shaf.org/
http://www.tcwpa.org/

Please feel free to share any others!
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Your devotion to the Trust is deep. Mine once was as well, but they've lost me. I hope they will soon right the ship! I'll happily support them again if that day comes.

Here are organizations I recommend that fully devote themselves to battlefield preservation:

http://www.saverichmondbattlefields.org/
https://www.cvbt.org/
https://scbattlegroundtrust.org/
http://www.georgiabattlefields.org/home.aspx
https://www.shenandoahatwar.org/
http://www.shaf.org/
http://www.tcwpa.org/

Please feel free to share any others!
I support others as well, but some of these projects need the national political and economic clout that ABT brings to the table. They work in conjunction with other orgs, as well, such as CVBT. It's not "devotion" on my part nearly as much as just watching a succession of preservation wins - many where it looked like the developers had all the loaded dice.
 
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