- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 19, 2009

WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) | A Civil War battlefield that saw especially fierce fighting 145 years ago Saturday will be preserved under a $3.35 million effort involving private and public funding.

The preservation effort announced Friday involves 209 acres of the so-called Middle Field of the Third Battle of Winchester, which was fought Sept. 19, 1864. The Union Army’s 19th Corps lost 40 percent of its men to injuries or death during the battle - a total of 2,074 soldiers.

The battle resulted in more than 9,000 casualties and marked a decline in Confederate power in the heavily fought Shenandoah Valley, according to the National Park Service.

“As someone with ancestors who fought on both sides of the American Civil War, the preservation of these battlefields has personal significance,” Sen. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat, said.

Preserving the 209 acres is important because they link areas already protected by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation and the Civil War Preservation Trust, both of which helped broker and finance the purchase.

“This land retains enough of its historic character that the men who fought here almost exactly 145 years ago would recognize its features,” said Paul Hawke, who administers the battlefield preservation program for the National Park Service. “It is an unparalleled resource for understanding the battle’s history.”

Of the core battlefield’s nearly 5,000 acres, only 830 are permanently protected.

The Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program, funded by legislation promoted by Mr. Webb, provided a $1.23 million matching grant toward the purchase. The preservation drive also received a $1 million grant from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation. Other funding was provided by Frederick County.

Preservationists closed the land last month but are still raising funds for the purchase. The property was purchased from the Huntsberry family, whose roots in the Shenandoah Valley date back centuries.

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