CWTrust Trust purchases historic Appomattox land


1st Lieutenant
Mar 16, 2016
Trust purchases historic Appomattox land
APPOMATTOX — Though a Confederate truce flag had come into George Custer’s line, and terms of surrender would soon follow, Confederate General Martin S. Gary refused to stand down.

Gary ordered a headlong charge into dense Union forces, and several men from the 7th South Carolina met an end that could have been avoided. The ground where they perished will now be preserved.

The American Battlefield Trust has purchased six parcels of land totaling 276 acres in and around the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, according to a press release from the trust. The trust spent $1.81 million on the six parcels.

These parcels served as the stage for some of the final scenes of the Battle of Appomattox Court House before Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant.

According to an American Battlefield Trust, other events of the Battle of Appomattox Court House that took place in and around the six parcels include several skirmishes along what is today a portion of Oakleigh Avenue, a narrowly-avoided bloodbath at the court house village and the death of a Union solider who tried to steal a Confederate regiment’s colors after officers on both sides ordered a stop to hostilities.

The American Battlefield Trust is a nonprofit organization separate from the U.S. National Parks Service that acquires and preserves battlefield lands from the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

With the exception of one parcel within the park’s boundary, the tracts of land American Battlefield Trust bought are located along the southern ridge of the park near Clover Hill Village.

This ridge was a key strategic point Union soldiers used to surround Lee at the Appomattox Court House.

“When the cavalrymen are moving along that ridge, they write in their diaries or letters home ‘We knew we had ‘em because they were in a punch bowl,’” said Appomattox Court House National Historical Park Historian Patrick Schroeder. “They’re on the high ground, the Confederates are [near the Court House] on the low ground.”

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park Superintendent Robin Snyder said the National Park Service has evaluated the historical significance of the parcels and included them in a boundary expansion plan completed last year, but changing the park’s boundary requires congressional approval — the park cannot purchase the land on its own.

Meanwhile, the trust is able to acquire historical lands simply through purchase or donation.

“It’s much easier for them to do it than the government to do it, and these properties may or may not come into the park service, but they will be protected … whether [the park service gets] them or not” said Schroeder.

American Battlefield Trust purchased the last of the six parcels in June and is working with the Virginia Department of Historical Resources to obtain a conservation easement for the property, according to spokesman Clint Schemmer.

The trust also has conservation easements for the other five parcels. The easements make the properties eligible for tax benefits in exchange for the trust meeting DHR standards of preservation.

American Battlefield Trust intends to demolish four modern houses on the six parcels, which is a condition of the conservation easements, according to the release.

Schemmer said one house has been razed, which cost $25,000. The trust plans to remove another house and rent out two others for an undetermined number of years before the land is restored to a state closer to how it was in 1865.

The destruction of non-historic buildings is a “widespread practice” in historic conservation, Schemmer said.

“The trust generally tries to restore battlefields to their wartime appearance,” he said. “Ultimately the whole idea is to get people to visit these battlefields and give them some appreciation of the history and events that took place there.”

The trust eventually plans “to open the properties to the public so they can function as ‘outdoor classrooms’” where visitors can learn more about the Battle of Appomattox Court House, Schemmer said in an email.

The trust does not plan to do any excavation on the properties.

“The trust is protecting those historically significant pieces of property that we can’t protect ourselves,” Schroeder said.

American Battlefield Trust has preserved 557 acres of land on the Appomattox Court House and Appomattox Station battlefields since 2000, according to the release. Schroeder said the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is about 1700 acres.

According to the trust’s website, it has preserved over 50,000 acres of land in 24 states.

Full article with pics can be found here -