Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report
National Park Service

How Are Battlefields Protected Now?

Before the Civil War had ended, battlefield preservation began with the erection of monuments at Manassas, Stones River, and Vicksburg. By 1864, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association had begun its long-term effort to acquire and protect battlefield land.

Additional memorials and monuments were erected at many sites over the next thirty years and veterans organizations were established. By the last decade of the 19th century, the first Federal Civil War battlefield park was authorized at Chickamauga and Chattanooga.

Since then, most battlefield protection has been predicated on National parks supplemented by state parks. The last major study requested by Congress to identify Civil War battlefields for protection was conducted by the U.S. Army War College in 1926-32, some 60 years ago. Policy and decisions made at that time were premised on the fact that most battlefields were in rural areas sustaining agricultural land uses much like those in place during the war. Indeed, it was not until after World War II that the historic character and setting of previously unaffected Civil War battlefields began to change.

By the 1960s, pressures for converting land to higher density uses (usually highway and building construction) were becoming more evident at many battlefields. Some large scale park land acquisition took place such as at Wilson's Creek and Pea Ridge battlefields. Since then, the National Park Service has conducted several boundary studies to improve identification of historic areas to be protected at certain of the Park System's authorized Civil War battlefields, although more boundary studies are needed.

In recent years, the rapidly increasing pace of encroachment and dangers to historic battlefields has been met principally through ever more intensive focus on using traditional approaches: primarily public parklands acquisition. Although there are a variety of other preservation approaches, none have been so pervasive as the idea of Federal or state battlefield ownership as the chief protection tool.

Current Laws and Public Programs to Protect Battlefields

Most Federal laws that currently exist to protect historic properties apply exclusively to Federal agencies and generally impose a planning or a management requirement. These laws do not directly preclude agencies from damaging or destroying historic sites, but do require that first they evaluate what areas would be affected, how seriously, and what options there are to avoid the damage.

In addition, all Federal land managing agencies, not just the National Park Service, are required to care for historic resources as part of their general land management responsibili- ties regardless of the agency's mission. In some cases this has benefited battlefield preservation handsomely as in the U.S. Forest Service's stewardship of part of the Camp Allegheny battlefield and the Cheat Mountain battlefield. Other Federal laws prohibit, and establish penalties for, individuals entering Federal lands and either vandalizing historic properties or stealing artifacts. These are used at Federal Civil War battlefields to prevent digging and collection of artifacts.

State laws relevant to battlefield and historic preservation are relatively numerous. All states have agencies responsible for historic preservation planning, survey, inventory, and technical assistance. States also grant powers that authorize local governments to protect historic resources through zoning, planning, establishing preservation commissions and historic districts, and so on. The effectiveness of these powers varies from state to state.

In the last two decades nearly all states have enacted recreational use statutes. These laws intend to limit the liability private land owners have toward persons whom they permit to enter their land for recreational purposes provided no fee is charged and there is no willful misconduct by the owner. The policy expectation from these laws is that they will limit litigation while expanding the range of opportunities for the public to engage in recreational activities while simultaneously minimizing the financial pressure on governments to provide such opportunities. The scope of recreational use statutes varies, but those in 20 of the 26 states containing major battlefields include a provision for "viewing or enjoying historical, archeological or scientific sites." However, recreational use statutes have been unsuccessful, generally, in achieving this policy goal because of ambiguities in the laws and their application and because there are not many collateral incentives for property owners, such as property tax benefits, for making property available for limited public use. (See N.L. Goldstein, Frances H. Kennedy, and K.H. Telfer, "Recreational Use Statutes: Why They Don't Work," Exchange, The Journal of the Land Trust Alliance, Spring, 1990.)

Local jurisdictions control most public decisions about land use on battlefields. However, Civil War battlefields, especially those with no protection program or public ownership, usually are not well integrated into state and local planning or regulatory processes. The primary reason for this is because the site locations have not been included in historic resource inventories, their features mapped, and their significance documented in a form readily available to the public and to officials.

There is a substantial body of Federal, state, and local environmental protection and land use law in existence that should benefit Civil War battlefields. There also is abundant evidence of these laws and programs not being properly used to protect battlefield sites. For example, state and Federal highway construction frequently has occurred directly through significant battlefields, as at Kennesaw and several of the Shenandoah Valley sites. Urban encroachment unconstrained by zoning or other regulation has occurred at many sites with Nashville, Richmond, Gettysburg, Stones River, and the Atlanta campaign being only a few instances. Confederate trenches and earthworks on private land at Port Hudson are being used for a landfill, water pollution was reported in streams flowing into the Wilson's Creek site, large poultry sheds dominate much of the battlefield viewshed at Prairie Grove, and only the most heroic efforts prevented shopping mall construction on the Manassas battlefield.

At times, our laws and programs provide too narrow a policy; at other times they offer insufficient legal authority. Some expect too much from available funding and staffing. We offer the following examples.

1. Current Federal, state, and local tax policies, with their usual focus on maximizing revenue, offer few economic incentives to encourage private landowners to preserve their own Civil War battlefield land or to donate land or easements to public parks. Estate taxes may force heirs to sell open land to pay those taxes. Current tax benefits for land donations are impractical for most private owners of battlefield lands; their only choices are to find an economically productive use for the land, or to find a buyer. Most private owners who wish to retain ownership and see the land retain its open character lack acceptable, business-like options in tax codes.

2. Civil War battlefield lands occasionally have come into the hands of the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) from failed thrift institutions. The Commission staff, with assistance from RTC, has examined loan records for the seven states with the largest number (276) of significant battlefield sites in our inventory. Several hundred possible records were examined with the result of finding one property (421 acres) owned by RTC. It is associated with the Wilderness and has an appraised value of $650,000. In addition, RTC holds a $1.75 million mortgage on a battlefield property (350 acres) near Richmond appraised at $4.4 million. The Commission is advised that the value of these properties that potentially would be recoverable by RTC is substantially less than the appraised amounts.

Despite this, the RTC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and other government financial institutions currently are not authorized to transfer title for such lands to the Department of the Interior, state or local governments, or to appropriate non-profit groups on such lands included within the Commission's inventory of 384 significant battlefields.

3. The Commission acknowledges the important work of the existing national historic preservation partnership comprising the National Park Service, State Historic Preservation Officers, Certified Local Governments, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Federal Agency Historic Preservation Officers, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the many non-profit preservation organizations.

These agencies, however, usually must deal with all historic preservation issues; they are unable to focus on the urgent problems of preserving Civil War battlefields when their efforts must be diluted by attending to the needs of many other historic resources. It is appropriate, therefore, to have specialized attention to provide the necessary supplemental technical and administrative support the nation needs to attend to Civil War sites. Lately some such organizations have been emerging in the Federal, state, and private non-profit sectors.

The National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) is the only program at the Federal level focused on battlefield preservation. ABPP encourages formation of "friends" groups and provides technical support for historical research and documentation, field mapping, earthworks stabilization, preparing protection and management plans, and other technical aid.

National non-profit battlefield preservation organizations include the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (APCWS), the Civil War Trust, and the Conservation Fund's Civil War Battlefield Campaign. The Trust and the Conservation Fund have focused on Class A and B sites while the APCWS emphasizes Class A, Class B, and Class C sites.

In addition to these national efforts, state Civil War sites commissions have been formed recently in Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. These states contain 68 of the principal battlefields in the national inventory.

Finally, with highway construction and improvement being one of the leading threats to Civil War battlefield integrity, it is important to note the recent Federal enactment of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). This act sets aside for "enhancements" 10 percent of each state's surface transportation program through the year 1996. "Enhancements" denote a variety of activities including acquisition of scenic easements and historic sites, historic and archeological preservation, and other actions designed to protect open land and amenities. Although this is a new program, ISTEA enhancement matching funds already have been used to outstanding effect by Kentucky, to aid land acquisition at Perryville, and by West Virginia, to aid land acquisition at Rich Mountain. These two projects alone will bring nearly $3 million into battlefield land protection.

Battlefields Protected as Parks

Only 16 sites (4 percent) of the principal battlefield inventory are in exclusive public ownership. Another 187 battlefields (49 percent) are in mixed public/private ownership; parts of a little less than half of these sites are held for national or state park purposes (Table 3) (Table 5). The remainder are only coincidently on public lands that often are already developed for some other purpose as, for example, the county airport and industrial park at Brandy Station.

National parks: Altogether, 58 of the 384 principal battlefields fall within or overlap the boundaries of 31 existing units of the National Park System (Table 3). Most of these (49) are Class A or Class B battlefields; 9 are Class C or D battlefields usually acquired incidental to the primary reason for establishing the park. For example, the Appalachian Scenic Trail cuts across South Mountain battlefield and Gulf Islands National Seashore includes the Santa Rosa Island battlefield. The National Park Service, like all Federal land managing agencies, however, is responsible for managing all the significant historic properties on lands under its jurisdiction.

We were unable to determine the precise intersection and overlap between park boundaries and historic battlefields in time for use in this report. Table 3 summarizes what is known at this time -- which battlefields are found at NPS units and how large are the actual areas under management (as opposed to the authorized potential areas) of the park units. It seems obvious from inspecting Table 3 that only very limited areas of some battlefields can presently be protected in National park units; in most cases the historic acreage far exceeds the authorized park acreage and even more so the actual areas under NPS management. The Commission estimates that the core areas of only 8 of the NPS Civil War battlefields (Appomattox, Chickamauga, Five Forks, Fort Pulaski, Pea Ridge, Santa Rosa Island, Shiloh, Yorktown) are substantially complete in the area preserved through ownership or easement.

Of the 31 NPS park units containing Civil War battlefields, several still have authorized boundaries encompassing areas significantly smaller than the minimum core area recognized by the Commission. Richmond National Battlefield Park is the most important example of a park that urgently needs much better delineation. The park presently protect and interprets only 5 percent of the acreage of the 10 major battlefield core areas found there. Fort Donelson and Brices Cross Roads also have an urgent need for up-to-date boundary studies, and improvements in detail are needed at others.

But even in advance of adequate boundary studies, an extensive need still exists to protect land within currently authorized National Park boundaries. The Commission was unable to determine a precise estimate of how many authorized acres still remain to be acquired in fee or less than fee because of imprecise boundaries at Richmond and other uncertainties, but the amount exceeds 7,500 acres. In recent years, the annual Land and Water Conservation Fund appropriation to the National Park Service for acquisition has ranged between $5-10 million. This amount will not permit acquisition of all of the authorized National Park System battlefield lands until far into the future, by which time many of those lands very likely will no longer be suitable for park purposes.

Although authority for the Secretary of the Interior to accept land donations exists in the Historic Sites Act of 1935 (HSA) and in several other laws, Congress and the National Park Service view this authority as limited in application to lands within authorized park boundaries or to minor technical corrections of recently authorized boundaries. Any conceptual change to an authorized boundary is required to go through the legislative process. All of these factors reinforce the need for the NPS to request funds to improve their boundary studies where appropriate.

Finally, we note that at least 6 nationally significant campaigns and 5 major interpretive themes in the Commission's inventory are not presently represented by any Civil War battlefield in the National Park System (Table 4). These include such highly significant military operations as Sherman's March to the Sea and Jackson's Valley campaign. Several of the key associated sites are state battlefield parks already and may be adequately managed as such, but in most cases insufficient historic area is protected.

State parks: There are 33 state parks currently protecting acreage at 37 of the principal Civil War battlefields (Table 5). Often these are small commemorative parcels rather than true battlefield preservation, but there are notable exceptions in the long-term programs at such state parks as Prairie Grove, Port Hudson, Perryville, Honey Springs, Droop Mountain, and others.

Unlike battlefields in the National Park System, many state-owned battlefield parks have recreation as a major mission rather than protection and interpretation of the battlefield. While there are some parts of battlefields where anything other than historic preservation and interpretation are inappropriate, the Commission does not believe there is any fundamental incompatibility between battlefield protection and recreation so long as the mutual requirements are carefully thought out and the management plan provides a clear guide for appropriately using the various parts of the site.

The emphasis in state park protection of Civil War battlefields is approximately the opposite of that in the National Park System. Whereas 84 percent of the National system consists of Class A and Class B sites, only 47 percent of the battlefields at state parks are Class A and B sites; the majority are Class C battlefields (Table 3) (Table 5) (Table 6). More than 74 percent of the National Park System Civil War battlefields are associated with the Main Eastern and the Lower Seaboard and Gulf Approach theaters, and 26 percent are associated with the Main Western and Trans-Mississippi theaters (Table 1) . Conversely, 69 percent of the state battlefield parks are associated with the Main Western and Trans-Mississippi theaters and only 31 percent with east coast battlefields. Neither of these statistics follows the actual distribution of Class A through D sites over the four principal theaters (Table 1), so they must reflect de facto policy trends in the Federal and state governments.

Finally, Civil War battlefields at state parks generally are in better preservation circumstances than are those at National Parks. While 77 percent of NPS battlefields have good or fair integrity, 89 percent of the state park battlefields are in similar condition. While 23 percent of NPS Civil War battlefields have poor integrity or are lost, only 11 percent of state park battlefields have poor integrity and none are lost. And while 64 percent of NPS battlefields face high or moderate threats, only 39 percent of state park battlefields are similarly threatened (Table 1) . This latter statistic probably tells the story; the National Park sites are predominantly Class A and B sites which are, on average, about 3 times the size of Class C battlefields. In addition, the majority of NPS battlefields are on the eastern seaboard which, relative to the regions west of the Appalachians, is facing more intensive development.

Local and privately-owned parks: The newest feature of contemporary battlefield preservation is that of sites being owned by private, non-profit organizations for preservation and interpretation purposes. Typically this is done by a "friends" group or a local public institution as at Byram's Ford, New Market, Rich Mountain and Mill Springs. However, the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites is emerging as a national non-profit organization with a mission of operating as well as acquiring Civil War battlefields; they hold and manage parcels at Fisher's Hill, McDowell, and Petersburg (Pamplin Park).

Other Historic Designations

The scenario at Spring Hill in which information about the Civil War battle may not have been presented at hearings for the proposed new Saturn automobile assembly plant has been repeated again and again. (See Georgie Boge and Margie Holder Boge, 1993, Paving Over the Past: A History and Guide to Civil War Battlefield Preservation, Island Press, Washington, DC, pg. 77-79.) Grass roots preservation campaigns typically develop too late -- when protection or preservation threats have already matured. Thus, an essential step toward protecting battlefields and other historic sites is to include them in inventory and historic designation programs. While inventory and designations provide little direct protection, it is through them that Federal, state, and local agencies and developers are alerted to the existence of these important places as they carry out their regulatory, planning, and construction programs. Through such designations, intense controversies as occurred at Manassas and Brandy Station can be avoided or be better managed. Fewer battlefields will be lost to progressive attrition and more preservation and development options will be available when their existence is known early in a planning process.

Although there are some state and local inventories and registers, the National Register of Historic Places is the only nationwide listing, based on uniform criteria, of historic and archeological properties worthy of preservation. The National Register includes sites of state and local significance as well as of national significance. National significance is officially determined only by the Secretary of the Interior (National Historic Landmarks) or by Congress (establishing units of the National Park System). When a majority of private owners do not concur with listing their property in the National Register, the NPS is required by law to make a "determination of eligibility" for the Register. This helps to ensure that Federal agencies avoid needless historic property destruction.

Only 116 of the 384 principal battlefields are "designated" either through listing in the National Register or through establishment of a battlefield park; some sites may be designated in State or local registers but information on this is not available. Because it once was common to nominate only small commemorative areas many of these National Register listings do not include the entire area of historic significance thereby defeating much of the practical purpose of Register listing. The Commission assumes all of the sites in its battlefield inventory that still exist probably could qualify for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Further, only 26 battlefields currently are designated National Historic Landmarks even though it is likely that all of the Commission's Class A sites and many of the Class B sites would meet those standards.

The Commission reviewed and discussed on several occasions the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Property rights are indeed to be respected, and the Federal, state, and the local governments must ensure due process of law and just compensation when appropriate. Public testimony was received by the Commission, primarily at its meeting in Richmond, VA, to the effect that historic designation or inclusion in a national park study area depresses property values. The Commission has received no documentation or analyses showing this to be a generally occurring problem. Recent reviews by Scenic America and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as ongoing work by the Conservation Fund's Civil War Battlefield Campaign, identified several communities in which it has been shown that significant appreciation in land value occurs within historic districts and adjacent to park or other open space--even agricultural--which is in a permanent conservation or zoning status that will maintain its open character.

(E. Brabec, 1992, "On the Value of Open Spaces," Scenic America Technical Information, Vol. 1, No. 2; Government Finance Research Center, 1991, The Economic Benefits of Preserving Community Character, A Case Study: Fredericksburg, Virginia;" National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, DC. Also see Georgie Boge and Margie Holder Boge, 1993, Paving Over the Past: A History and Guide to Civil War Battlefield Preservation, Island Press, Washington, DC.)

Indeed, the Conservation Fund uses this very relationship between higher values in developed land when adjacent to conserved land to drive an economically viable and environmentally beneficial project at Elkhorn Slough in California. There, residential buyers gain assurance of a protected and attractive adjacent natural setting.

The other studies available to the Commission generally confirm this finding--that historic and/or open space designations generally increase property values. While this does not preclude designations from lowering value at specific locations, the likelihood appears to be small. Moreover, any such possibility probably would be avoidable through advance consultation between owners, local officials and the Federal, state, or local designating authority to clarify the real or perceived implications of a designation.

The existence of significant Civil War history at any given place is a matter of fact. We cannot pretend it does not exist, and property owners usually are pleased to know of such historic significance. It has been suggested that the experiences in Virginia with historic designations may not be applicable elsewhere. Whether or not this is so, these questions are complicated and need more study. (The Virginia State Assembly has directed the Department of Historic Resources to study this issue.)

With this caveat, it is the Commission's opinion that if it is shown that a historic designation does have a significant adverse affect on land value, the solution is not to avoid designation, which is a step toward protecting those values. Instead, the better approach is for state and local governments to assure there are mechanisms available to private owners to minimize any significant economic inequities, such as through the ability to sell development rights and transfer them to another location.

Battlefield Interpretation

Civil War interpretation programs are relatively few in number, being found principally at National and state battlefield parks and some of the very few privately owned park sites. The programs at many of these battlefields are confined to the military combat that took place there, or to the military life. Related themes such as the military and support roles played by African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and women; unequal pay for African-American soldiers, passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, cavalry and partisan warfare; and naval activities of the war are seldom presented except peripherally.

Many of these potential interpretive themes are quite dramatic. For example, at Port Hudson, African-American troop units demonstrated for the first time their ability to fight effectively and aggressively. Motivated in large measure by the desire to end slavery, at the very end of the war there were more black soldiers in the Federal armies than there were soldiers in all the Confederate armies. Few people realize that Admiral David G. Farragut was Hispanic, or that Mexican government troops intervened on the side of Confederates engaging Union forces at Palmeto Ranch on the Texas-Mexico border. These corollary issues and events provide rich material for educational programs that go beyond the strategic and tactical military issues.

To assist present and future battlefield managers in identifying interpretive themes that are specifically associated with individual sites, in addition to their military event, the Commission's inventory lists all battlefields along with their specific interpretive potential.

The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System is an exciting new dimension of interpretation currently under development. This computer data base will contain the names of more than 3 million soldiers and sailors, their pertinent service information such as dates and military units, and related bibliographic information such as regimental histories, information on battles in which an individual's unit participated, and National Archives records request information. This data base is expected to be fully operational at many NPS battlefield visitor centers in three to five years. It will give visitors to Civil War battlefield parks an immediate response about an ancestor's participation in the war. Such immediate and personal connection that a person or a family can establish with the great events at Civil War battlefields in most cases will create a much more focused and attentive visitor in battlefield museums and interpretive programs on the site.

Public and Private Preservation Partnerships

The scale of Civil War battlefield preservation is such that it requires the efforts of combinations of organizations pooling their respective strengths. Public agencies and private organizations clearly have different and complementary capabilities. Public agencies are better able to formulate policy and carry out authoritative technical programs such as research, historic site evaluation, inventory and registration, and planning. Private organizations are much more effective marketers and fund-raisers, can work more closely with local officials and landowners, have the ability to respond more quickly to developing land protection opportunities, and are able to negotiate more realistic market-driven prices than the full fair market appraisal value the Federal government is required by law to pay in its acquisitions. Some examples of such partnership combinations that currently exist follow.

The previously mentioned NPS American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) is the only regularly funded Federal Civil War battlefield protection program. The ABPP works closely with the National Register of Historic Places, State Historic Preservation Officers, and the Civil War Trust to provide technical support to high priority battlefields. In fiscal year 1993, the ABPP is providing approximately $500,000 in non-acquisition project assistance to local battlefield management groups. In the past 18 months the ABPP also has provided technical assistance for such activities as detailed earthworks surveys, historic feature mapping, National Register documentation, and site planning assistance at numerous battlefields, among them Yorktown, Perryville, Cold Harbor, Prairie Grove, Stones River, Port Hudson, Corinth, Mill Springs, and Honey Springs.

The ABPP is sponsoring development of the previously mentioned Civil War Soldiers System (CWSS). Because of the scale of this project, involving as it does software development, data entry of millions of records, and marketing the product, ABPP is linked with five other organizations. Each participant is responsible for certain major project activities: NPS Information and Telecommunications Division whose staff originated the CWSS idea (project management, user software interface); ABPP (funding); the Civil War Trust (fund-raising, marketing the product); the National Archives (records preparation); the Mormon Church (data entry software); and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (data entry).

The private sector counterpart to the ABPP is the non-profit Civil War Trust (CWT). The CWT was established in 1991 in response to a need identified by the Department of the Interior for an organization to undertake a nationwide marketing and fund- raising campaign. The CWT has set the ambitious goal of raising $200 million by the year 2000 and expects to give battlefield preservation the necessary high national visibility to attract very significant amounts of private funding support. The ABPP and the CWT are linked with a memorandum of agreement whereby the ABPP provides technical support and research results to the Trust in support of their fund-raising campaigns primarily for Class A and B sites thereby bringing their respective technical and marketing capabilities together. The CWT thus far has purchased or contributed to land acquisition at Harpers Ferry, Mill Springs, Byram's Ford, South Mountain, and Antietam.

The CWT coordinated a coalition of organizations and individuals working with the Congressional Sunbelt Caucus and other leaders to win enactment of the Civil War Battlefield Commemorative Coin Act of 1992 which is expected to produce up to $21 million begin- ning in 1995. These funds are to be administered by the CWT for priority battlefield acquisition. The CWT also has entered into formal partnerships with American Forests, the nation's oldest forestry organization, to market to the public the seedlings of trees from historic sites with part of the sales revenue going to CWT for battlefield land acquisition.

Also working in cooperation with both the ABPP, the CWT, and with state organizations, the Association for Preservation of Civil War Sites (APCWS), focuses principally on Class A, B, and C sites, and develops detailed information on parcel ownership and market conditions at a number of sites they have identified. When possible APCWS acquires and manages parcels, including making some open for public visitation. The APCWS, thus far, has purchased or contributed to land acquisition at more than a dozen battle sites with major acquisitions at Petersburg, Bentonville, White Oak Road, Hatcher's Run, McDowell, Fisher's Hill, Byram's Ford, and Rich Mountain.

A partnership-based program of land acquisition is carried out also by the Conservation Fund's Civil War Battlefield Campaign. The Fund specializes in projects and programs blending conservation and economic goals. In the battlefield protection context, the Conservation Fund is actively promoting the importance of heritage tourism to regional economies, and the need for more local officials to view historic site protection and interpretation as the underlying basis for a valuable local industry. Focused primarily on Class A battlefields, the Fund has succeeded in acquiring major parcels at Petersburg, Shiloh, Fredericksburg, Antietam, Port Hudson, Corinth, Glorieta Pass, Harpers Ferry, Bentonville, Prairie Grove, Fisher's Hill, Vicksburg, and Chancellorsville.

Also, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, assisted by the Conservation Fund, has acquired and preserved land at several other Class A battlefields, among them Antietam, Five Forks, Wilderness, and Gettysburg.

Another important national park-private sector partnership program is operated by the Partners in Parks organization. Partners in Parks seeks to establish long-term relationships between park managers and individuals or groups willing to contribute time and skills to studying and protecting the park's resources. Although they have concentrated on national parks, the organization will work with other public agencies.

As another form of partnership mechanism, a number of local park advisory commissions have lately come into use at National Park units. So far this has been done only at Gettysburg of the NPS Civil War battlefields. These commissions usually are made up of representatives of local governments, residents of communities adjacent to the park, and some state officials to give advice on the planning, development, and management of a park. Such commissions are especially useful at newly authorized park areas and help build sound relationships between the park manager and the community.

"Friends" groups often serve a similar purpose to park advisory commissions and have been successful at several state battlefield parks such as Fort Fisher, Perryville, Prairie Grove, and Port Hudson. At the local level, an increasing number of battlefields are supported by "friends" groups and commissions (e.g., Antietam, Byram's Ford, Cedar Creek, Mill Springs, Rich Mountain, and Corinth). And, of course, the many Civil War Roundtables and similar societies keep the issue of Civil War site preservation in the public eye. Most of the partnerships mentioned have accomplished useful objectives, and this approach can be considered successfully tested.

Finally, we have seen that the Civil War community comprises individuals with a wide range of interests and activities. These include professional as well as avocational historians, archeologists, genealogists, and re-enactors. In recent years, there has been a shift from passive "arm-chair" pursuit of Civil War history to an active, personal involvement. Re-enactors, for example, don authentic period clothing and equipment to provide living history presentations at many national and state parks, offering the public a glimpse of what life was like for soldiers and civilians during the war. Historians and popular authors regard it as essential to walk battlefield ground before committing words to paper. Not content merely to read about events, people increasingly choose to visit battlefield sites on vacation. There is a great deal of public interest in the Civil War and all its sites; this is the most fundamental public- private partnership of all.

How Many Battlefields are Protected Now?

Today, only a handful of principal Civil War battlefields -- possibly 12 -- might be considered adequately protected, although there are differing opinions about even this. The 58 battlefields in National Park areas, 37 in state parks, and others with some public ownership generally only protect portions ranging from very little (Brices Cross Roads=1 acre) to 90 percent (Chickamauga) of core areas. Commission and American Battlefield Protection Program staff are working now to refine this part of the inventory data but it will be several more months before definitive information is available.

Some of the site information we have is quite good, while some is in need of further consultation, research, and field checking. For most sites we have a fairly good idea of the gross areas involved in the core and study areas. Although this is an essential first step, by itself it is not too useful for either large scale policy purposes or for detailed local planning. This is because, for example, the estimates may include areas already redeveloped and lost; or they may include water areas along major rivers, harbors and coastline; or they may include areas already under protection in national forests, local greenways, and so on. Further, many battles took place on approximately the same land as other battles, and while two sites individually may have involved 2000 acres, the actual space involved may only be an aggregate of 2500 acres rather than 4000 acres. The real area of battlefields to be protected is not simply their sum.

Good data are not available yet for the relationship between boundaries of protected land (parks, easements) and boundaries of historic battle sites. Moreover, the meaning of "protected land" will vary widely from site to site. In one instance it may be largely public parkland, while in others it may be a mix of public and private parkland, private land with conservation easements or zoning restrictions, and overlay zoning to protect viewsheds. The specific combination of protection techniques at any given battlefield depends on many unique local factors. The best generalization we can offer at this time is that perhaps a third are protected a little, but very few are protected enough to substantially retain their historic integrity for many more years.



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Creation Date: 3/14/95
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Last Update 7/9/96 by TGossett