Monday, August 15, 2022

Civil War battlefield in Williamsburg moves toward preservation

The American Battlefield Trust is one step closer to purchasing the property where the Battle of Williamsburg occurred in 1862. (WYDaily/Courtesy Mary Koik)
The American Battlefield Trust is one step closer to purchasing the property where the Battle of Williamsburg occurred in 1862. (WYDaily/Courtesy Mary Koik)

A Civil War battlefield in Williamsburg is one step closer to being preserved.

The American Battlefield Trust announced efforts in May to begin fundraising to buy 29 acres of land off Route 60, said Mary Koik, spokeswoman for the organization. The organization set out to raise $12,500 of private funds and recently met that goal, which mean it now can focus on grant money from state and federal funds.

The total cost of the property is more than $2.7 million, and the remaining funds will be raised through the equivalent of a $200-to-$1 match from grant funds. Koik said an agreement had been made with the property owner to raise these funds through a mix of private donations and public grant money.

Koik declined to identify the owner of the property, saying privacy is part of the organization’s policies.

Raising the private funds is just the middle step in the overall ownership process and Koik said the goal is to close on the property by the end of the year.

“Now it’s a longer process of waiting for different grants and easements,” she said. 

Koik said there isn’t a clear plan for what the organization will do with the property. One step will be to put conservation easements on the land so that it will be protected in the long term. 

Part of the property is currently zoned for commercial development, according to documents from the organization. That means there is the possibility the area might be developed, so if the American Battlefield Trust is able to buy the property then they can preserve it for future generations.

But in general the goal is to preserve the land and keep it as a resource for the area.

“We’re very excited to protect this land at Williamsburg,” she said. “Everyone knows it’s such a historic town, but they don’t realize that history extends past the Revolutionary period.”

The Battle of Williamsburg was fought in May 1862 between Confederate and Union soldiers following Confederate withdrawal from Yorktown. More famously known as “the Bloody Ravine,” soldiers from both sides pushed back and forth, resulting in an estimated 3,843 casualties. 

“Heritage tourism and preservation go hand-in-hand,” Kiok said. “The more there is to see and different things to do, the more people want to say. It’s just an idea of adding to that critical mass of wonderful resources.”

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Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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