Regions Central Virginia

State grant aids preservation of Civil War battlefield

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A collaboration between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Civil War Trust has resulted in the preservation of 285 acres of land at the site of Gaines’ Mill, the bloodiest engagement of the Seven Days’ Battles in 1862.

The state provided a $1.5 million matching grant for the $3.2 million project, the largest grantallocated from the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s Transportation Enhancement Grant program for a historic preservation.

“Virginia is home to many sites that played a critical role in our nation’s early years.  It is imperative that we take every step to preserve as much of this hallowed ground as possible so that future generations can experience the rich history these sites have to offer,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement.

The scope of this 285-acre acquisition dwarfs earlier efforts to preserve land at the Gaines’ Mill battlefield in Hanover County.  The bulk of previously protected land was purchased in the 1920s by a group of Richmond residents who donated the land to the commonwealth.  The property then was transferred to the National Park Service and became the foundation for Richmond National Battlefield Park. 

Additional portions of the battlefield were preserved in the 1990s, when the Richmond Battlefields Association saved five acres, and, in 2011,when the Civil War Trust bought two more acres.

In its 1993 study, the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission designated Gaines’ Mill as one of the top candidates for preservation efforts in the nation. 

The Battle of Gaines’ Mill, fought June 27, 1862, was the second of the Seven Days’ Battles, during which the Confederates turned back a Union force that had moved up the Virginia Peninsula to within sight of the steeples of Richmond.  The 15,500 casualties at Gaines’ Mill made it the second bloodiest battle of the war, up until that point, surpassed only by Shiloh, Tenn., two-and-a-half months earlier.

During the McDonnell Administration, the Commonwealth Transportation Board has awarded over $5 million in matching Transportation Enhancement Grants for Civil War preservation projects. 

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