Monday, August 30, 2010

Brandy Station in Civil War News

Today at Brandy Station: August 30, 2010

Two Owners Donate Easements On 782 Brandy Station Battlefield Acres

By Scott C. Boyd(September 2010 Civil War News)

BRANDY STATION, Va. – Two conservation easements donated to the state have added a total of 782 acres of preserved land to the Brandy Station Battlefield in Culpeper County.

“What this means is that, in return for some state tax credits based on the value of their property, these landowners have forsaken all future development rights to this land — meaning, it will be protected just the way it is forever,” Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) President Jim Lighthizer said in a July 30 appeal letter.

He wrote, “As part of the deal, and to help make sure these transactions went through, the Civil War Preservation Trust was asked to pay some of the landowners’ closing costs — a total of about $67,000.”

He called the $85.68 per acre cost to CWPT “one of the better and more innovative bargains we have ever struck.”

Until the easements were announced, the CWPT had preserved slightly over 1,000 acres at Brandy Station. Now the total is 1,797 acres, according to CWPT Policy and Communications Director Jim Campi.

“In both these easements here, you’re talking about highly significant battlefield property,” according to Clark B. “Bud” Hall, president of the non-profit Brandy Station Foundation (BSF) and historian of the battle.

“We’re thrilled about it,” Hall said. “All congratulations are due to the CWPT, because without their money, which comes from their donors, we couldn’t close the deal.”

“CWPT has been extraordinarily willing to work to secure easements around America’s greatest cavalry battlefield,” Hall noted.

“It’s a fact that the Brandy Station Battlefield remains threatened because of the pressures of adjacent residential and commercial development,” he said.

Negotiations, which he could not yet discuss publicly, are under way to secure additional “significant acreage” on and around the battlefield.

Lighthizer’s letter said the easement donors wished to remain anonymous, however local newspapers identified the Gyory family as the donors of 433 acres of Willow Run Farm on the eastern portion of the battlefield.

The second easement was for 349 acres of the Beauregard Farm on the northern part of the battlefield.

Of the Beauregard Farm tract, Hall said, “I can’t imagine a more important easement on the entire battlefield.”

Confederate Brig. Gen. W.H.F. “Rooney” Lee’s entire defensive position during the morning of 9 June 1863 is on the Beauregard Farm. “You could not more precisely draw an easement that would more accurately incorporate an entire line of troops,” according to Hall.

“Importantly, the CWPT already owns the Federal attack platform on the Cunningham Farm and this is contiguous with the Beauregard Farm.”

He said, “The dividing line between the properties is a stone wall which Rooney Lee’s brigade held during that morning. West of the stone wall are the Confederates and east of the stone wall are the Federals.”

“How many battlefields can you say that you got the entire morning phase of the battle protected — in one case by acquisition, CWPT land, and in the next case by this incredibly valuable easement? I’m thrilled to have it,” Hall said.

“What you’ve got is, in concert, a saved piece of battlefield that was purchased by acquisition now complemented in a major, major way by this easement.”

Lighthizer mentioned the potential fate the Beauregard Farm faced before the easement: “Three million square feet of retail stores, a 2,500-seat multiplex movie theater, 16 restaurants, 300 apartments, a water park, three hotels, three banks, three gas stations, a lighted(!) 18-hole golf course, an equestrian center, an ice skating rink and even a private K-12 school.”

Hall was also extremely pleased with the 433-acre Willow Run Farm easement. “This property gives us a wonderful piece of land that was marched over, camped upon and fought over as Confederate and Union cavalry forces vied with each other for control of the Brandy plain,” he said.

“Now you can have Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s viewscape from Fleetwood Hill all the way to the Rappahannock River,” he pointed out. “This was ground where Federal cavalry officers would deploy their troops for attacks against Fleetwood Hill.”

“When preservation groups work together, terrific things happen. The BSF is privileged to be a partner with CWPT,” Hall said.

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