Property for Sale in Core of Dranesville Battlefield

John Moyle

Private
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Hey everyone, I am looking for advice.

A small group of individuals who are very interested in the Battle of Dranesville (the first Union victory in the East fought on December 20, 1861) recently learned that a 4-acre estate located in Fairfax County, VA on the core of the Dranesville Battlefield will be put up for sale within the next 3-4 weeks. The executor of the estate is bound to accept the highest bid put forth by potential buyers. We would like to see this property purchased for the creation of a Battlefield Park.

This will most likely be the last opportunity to preserve any of the Dranesville Battlefield as the rest has been covered by suburban sprawl (a fire station, 7-11, laundromat, Montessori School, church, senior citizens home, many houses, etc.). It would also be only the second piece of land in Fairfax Country preserved as a Battlefield Park. A very small piece (about 4.8 acres of a 300 acre battlefield) of the Chantilly (Ox Hill) Battlefield has been preserved previously.

So far we have contacted:
1. The two Fairfax County Supervisors in whose Districts the core battlefield lies (John Foust of the Dranesville District & Walter Alcorn of the Hunter Mill District).
2. They pointed us to the Executive Director of the Fairfax County Park Authority, Mr. Kirk Kincannon. We have contacted him.
3. We have contacted Mr. Mark Whaley, the Park Operations Superintendent of NOVA Parks (Regional Parks) who has passed our ideas on to the Executive Director of NOVA Parks, Mr. Paul Gilbert.
4. We have contacted Mr. Tom Gilmore, the Chief Real Estate Officer at the American Battlefield Trust. Mr. Gilmore told us that since this property is indeed located in the core of the Dranesville Battlefield, The Trust could obtain a federal grant for 50% of the appraised value. We think that this could provide the County or Northern Virginia a considerable incentive to creating a battlefield park on this property.

I should also mention that adjacent to these 4 acres are 9 additional acres of non-developable, flood plain land owned by a neighboring homeowners association. If the first 4 acres could be obtained for a battlefield park, it might be wise to try to obtain this property as well to expand the Park to 13 total acres.

This is the first time that any of us have engaged in battlefield preservation efforts. Who else do we need to contact? What else should we be doing? How can we build a campaign that can help obtain this property within the short time constraints that we are facing? Please feel free to share any advice or recommendations that you may have. Also, if you have any questions for me or if you need additional information, please ask. Any and all advice and assistance will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
 

KianGaf

Sergeant
Joined
May 29, 2019
Location
Dublin, Ireland

Didn’t know about this battle. I stayed in the area a few years ago and visited the balls bluff battlefield.
 

Arioch

Sergeant
Annual Winner
Joined
Dec 24, 2010
It will be interesting to see what portion of the battlefield actually goes up for sale....perhaps inquiries at the state level may provide some help or guidance?

1600880182951.png
 

John Moyle

Private
Joined
Jan 8, 2020

Didn’t know about this battle. I stayed in the area a few years ago and visited the balls bluff battlefield.
Unfortunately, very few people do. Busy Route 7 runs right through the middle of it. So much development has buried it. But it’s a fascinating battle. It was fairly small. 75 KIA and mortally wounded. 271 total casualties. A Civil War historian and author is hoping to publish a book on it soon (manuscript has been completed).
 

Arioch

Sergeant
Annual Winner
Joined
Dec 24, 2010
I've been looking at contemporary maps....perhaps a partnership of some sorts with the Balls Bluff battlefield park....I believe that they would be less than 10 miles from each other..

I realize it's something that might be easier said, than done...but it would not be without precedent...a number of the other parks in Va. do something similar already...albeit bigger (Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Wilderness...the group of the '7 Days' battlefields....In Md., Antietam & South Mountain, etc...)
 

John Moyle

Private
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
It will be interesting to see what portion of the battlefield actually goes up for sale....perhaps inquiries at the state level may provide some help or guidance?

View attachment 375484
Using the map that you shared (which has some faults, but works for our purposes here), this is roughly the property. The blue box is the 4-acre estate. The black box is the 9-acre non-developable, flood plain land. I hope this helps.

22A42245-8D8F-46D8-AAA8-179E87AA14CD.jpeg
 

John Moyle

Private
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
This is a better map, one that it will be included on a national park-quality sign being installed at the Dranesville Church of the Brethren by my son as his Eagle Scout project. The sign will be located at the star on the map ... which was the site of a Union artillery battery during the battle. (I apologize for my awful finger-produced edits!)

CC6C45BB-79C3-4BA2-AB59-4DC89BA9F9A3.jpeg
 

lupaglupa

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
Do you know of any local land conservation groups that might be interested in helping? We have a local group that has bought land through a trust - not necessarily historic land, but as part of an open space initiative. They can sometimes move more quickly than governments can - here they have bought land when it came on the market and then sold it back to the locality later.

Also - it never hurts to call the local media! See if you can get a reporter out there - maybe the scout troop too, just to get the word out. You never know who might read about/see a report. Publicity always motivates public officials too :wink:
 

John Moyle

Private
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Do you know of any local land conservation groups that might be interested in helping? We have a local group that has bought land through a trust - not necessarily historic land, but as part of an open space initiative. They can sometimes move more quickly than governments can - here they have bought land when it came on the market and then sold it back to the locality later.

Also - it never hurts to call the local media! See if you can get a reporter out there - maybe the scout troop too, just to get the word out. You never know who might read about/see a report. Publicity always motivates public officials too :wink:
This is some great advice. Thank you. I will look into local land conservation groups. I had not thought about that possibility before. I will also speak to my partners about getting the media involved. I have some reservations about the media. Since the executor is legally bound to award the property to the highest bidder, I’m not sure how public I want these efforts to be. More publicity could result in more bidders. The Boy Scouts will bring some attention to the Battlefield when the sign installation is performed in two weeks. Thanks again for your advice!!!
 

7thWisconsin

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 21, 2014
This is exciting. I wish you the best. The only thing marking the area currently are the state signs on 7 near the Georgetown Pike intersection. I drove from Alexandria once to read them. Dranesville was the first action of the 13th Pa Reserve regiment, the "Bucktails."
 

Rick Richter

Private
Joined
Dec 6, 2012
Hey everyone, I am looking for advice.

A small group of individuals who are very interested in the Battle of Dranesville (the first Union victory in the East fought on December 20, 1861) recently learned that a 4-acre estate located in Fairfax County, VA on the core of the Dranesville Battlefield will be put up for sale within the next 3-4 weeks. The executor of the estate is bound to accept the highest bid put forth by potential buyers. We would like to see this property purchased for the creation of a Battlefield Park.

This will most likely be the last opportunity to preserve any of the Dranesville Battlefield as the rest has been covered by suburban sprawl (a fire station, 7-11, laundromat, Montessori School, church, senior citizens home, many houses, etc.). It would also be only the second piece of land in Fairfax Country preserved as a Battlefield Park. A very small piece (about 4.8 acres of a 300 acre battlefield) of the Chantilly (Ox Hill) Battlefield has been preserved previously.

So far we have contacted:
1. The two Fairfax County Supervisors in whose Districts the core battlefield lies (John Foust of the Dranesville District & Walter Alcorn of the Hunter Mill District).
2. They pointed us to the Executive Director of the Fairfax County Park Authority, Mr. Kirk Kincannon. We have contacted him.
3. We have contacted Mr. Mark Whaley, the Park Operations Superintendent of NOVA Parks (Regional Parks) who has passed our ideas on to the Executive Director of NOVA Parks, Mr. Paul Gilbert.
4. We have contacted Mr. Tom Gilmore, the Chief Real Estate Officer at the American Battlefield Trust. Mr. Gilmore told us that since this property is indeed located in the core of the Dranesville Battlefield, The Trust could obtain a federal grant for 50% of the appraised value. We think that this could provide the County or Northern Virginia a considerable incentive to creating a battlefield park on this property.

I should also mention that adjacent to these 4 acres are 9 additional acres of non-developable, flood plain land owned by a neighboring homeowners association. If the first 4 acres could be obtained for a battlefield park, it might be wise to try to obtain this property as well to expand the Park to 13 total acres.

This is the first time that any of us have engaged in battlefield preservation efforts. Who else do we need to contact? What else should we be doing? How can we build a campaign that can help obtain this property within the short time constraints that we are facing? Please feel free to share any advice or recommendations that you may have. Also, if you have any questions for me or if you need additional information, please ask. Any and all advice and assistance will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Possibly the Civil War Trust could help out.
 

John Moyle

Private
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
This is exciting. I wish you the best. The only thing marking the area currently are the state signs on 7 near the Georgetown Pike intersection. I drove from Alexandria once to read them. Dranesville was the first action of the 13th Pa Reserve regiment, the "Bucktails."
Thank you! Yes, the Bucktails performed very well at Dranesville. Positioned in and around the Thornton House, they bore the brunt of the attacks by the 10th Alabama and 6th South Carolina Infantry regiments. And their casualties (3 KIA, 31 wounded) were extremely limited compared to those of the Confederate units they faced (10th Alabama — 15 KIA, 9 MW, 44 wounded; 6th South Carolina — 15 KIA, 9 MW, 41 wounded).
 

lupaglupa

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
This is some great advice. Thank you. I will look into local land conservation groups. I had not thought about that possibility before. I will also speak to my partners about getting the media involved. I have some reservations about the media. Since the executor is legally bound to award the property to the highest bidder, I’m not sure how public I want these efforts to be. More publicity could result in more bidders. The Boy Scouts will bring some attention to the Battlefield when the sign installation is performed in two weeks. Thanks again for your advice!!!
If you think local developers have not already heard about this property and will hear about it through the media - think again. They keep an eye on every large undeveloped space years in advance and realtors know to contact them. If they can snatch it up with no attention, that's what they want. But... if they outbid a local group who want to preserve open space and local history... well they might decide the negative publicity is not worth it. I think getting the story out in the media is nota risk and could really help. IMHO.
 

Jamieva

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
Location
Midlothian, VA
 

Belle Montgomery

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Oct 25, 2017
Location
44022
If you think local developers have not already heard about this property and will hear about it through the media - think again. They keep an eye on every large undeveloped space years in advance and realtors know to contact them. If they can snatch it up with no attention, that's what they want. But... if they outbid a local group who want to preserve open space and local history... well they might decide the negative publicity is not worth it. I think getting the story out in the media is nota risk and could really help. IMHO.
INHO and past experiences most developers have no soul and are only money driven. They don't care about bad publicity because they know it eventually dies down and they laugh all the way to the bank. They also seem to be sociopathic in nature because they truly believe they are doing the area a favor.
 

lupaglupa

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
Apr 18, 2019
INHO and past experiences most developers have no soul and are only money driven. They don't care about bad publicity because they know it eventually dies down and they laugh all the way to the bank. They also seem to be sociopathic in nature because they truly believe they are doing the area a favor.
Wow. I have not seen that in our area.
 

Stone in the wall

Sergeant Major
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
Thank you! Yes, the Bucktails performed very well at Dranesville. Positioned in and around the Thornton House, they bore the brunt of the attacks by the 10th Alabama and 6th South Carolina Infantry regiments. And their casualties (3 KIA, 31 wounded) were extremely limited compared to those of the Confederate units they faced (10th Alabama — 15 KIA, 9 MW, 44 wounded; 6th South Carolina — 15 KIA, 9 MW, 41 wounded).
Seems to me the top of neither maps points north. Property looks to be behind the 7-11 and the gas stationon on the south side of Rt 7. Isn't the old toll house near by?
 

John Moyle

Private
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Seems to me the top of neither maps points north. Property looks to be behind the 7-11 and the gas stationon on the south side of Rt 7. Isn't the old toll house near by?
Yes, you are correct. Neither map points north. And yes, the property is about 150 years behind the 7-11 and gas station on Route 7. The Dranesville Tavern was moved from its original location to its current resting spot years ago. It is located about a mile from the actual battlefield.
 
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