- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2008

RICHMOND | Preservationists are expected to announce Tuesday a state and federal initiative to protect more land in the Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where nearly a third of roughly 50,000 acres of Civil War battlefields are unprotected.

The effort follows the recent announcement by the National Trust for Historic Preservation that a quarry expansion threatens the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Park battlefield, which is in the valley.

Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources, said that the announcement will be made at a news conference in Middletown and that the initiative involve a state-federal partnership to preserve additional acres within the core area of the battlefield.

“Broadly speaking, we see any battlefield that is not protected as threatened,” she said.

Miss Kilpatrick declined to give further details until the formal announcement, sponsored by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.

Every year, the Cedar Creek battlefield attracts thousands of Civil War history buffs for one of the largest battle re-enactments in the country. Congress designated 3,700 acres as the boundary of the park, but much of the land is in “partnership park” owned by the nonprofits , the National Park Service and local governments.

The park service and its partners protect a total of 1,339 acres. The remaining acres are in private hands.

Earlier this month, the National Trust warned that an expansion of a limestone quarry mine will threaten Belle Grove, a historic plantation house, and the battlefield’s vista.

Spencer Stinson, a representative of Carmeuse Lime & Stone, disputed the National Trust’s contention that the mining threatens the battlefield or the estate.

Miss Kilpatrick said the partnership was long in developing and was not in response to the quarry dispute.

The Oct. 19, 1864, battle of Cedar Creek played a key role in the Civil War.

Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s counterattack on Lt. Jubal A. Early’s Confederate troops broke the back of the South’s forces in the Shenandoah Valley and was critical to other Northern victories. Nearly 53,000 troops were engaged in the battle, which resulted in 8,575 casualties.

“It was a key focal point for Union valley campaigns,” Miss Kilpatrick said.

The battlefield, she said, has the “power of place” that links the past with the present.

“It connects with people in a way that cannot be found in classrooms or textbooks,” Miss Kilpatrick said.

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