“The mission of Central Virginia Battlefields Trust is to preserve land associated with the four major campaigns: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness and Spotsylvania.”



“Preserving Dirt and Grass


The Challenge: Between 1862 and 1864, two great armies clashed in the Rappahannock River Valley. Their battlegrounds have entered the nation's memory as Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House.

Veterans of these battles began to preserve the scenes of their great conflicts in the 1880s, but it wasn't until 1927 that a portion of this heritage came under the protection of the National Park Service. Today, these historic places are seriously threatened. The strategic location that drew armies to Central Virginia more than 150 years ago draws residential and commercial development at a staggering pace. Beginning in 1970, the population of Fredericksburg and its surrounding counties increased 120 percent, a growth rate four times that of Virginia as a whole.


All across America, urban development threatens to destroy our nation's most sacred ground. Once it is gone, another piece of our nation's past disappears. No place is this destruction more prevalent than in Central Virginia, "the cockpit of the Civil War."


The Civil War's most famous battlefields -- Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House and Cold Harbor -- and many other lesser known conflicts, such as Mine Run and Haw's Shop are under attack again. Not from invading armies, but from shopping malls, industrial parks and housing complexes.

Central Virginia Battlefield Trust (CVBT) was formed. A group of concerned citizens in the Fredericksburg Virginia area decided it was time to stand up to the senseless destruction of our heritage and to form a historic lands trust. The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust (CVBT) was incorporated in 1996 and adopted as its mission the preservation of historic battlefield terrain.

Our motto became “dirt and grass.” Since then, we have helped to preserve nearly 1,500 acres of critical ground on the battlefields of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House as well as Brandy Station.

In addition to purchasing land, our mission includes advocacy for battlefield preservation. At the state and federal levels, advocacy is relatively impersonal. At the local level, advocacy unfolds in a manner much more personal, and therefore can become more confrontational. Consequently, CVBT decided early on to work in cooperation with local governments rather than in opposition to them. Over the years, we have joined in partnership with developers, preservation organizations, and local governments on several projects. We are proud of the solutions that have preserved selected ground.


CVBT remains proactive, with several ongoing projects and negotiations, and with a continuing focus on, and commitment to, our mission of battlefield preservation.



Thomas Van Winkle 

Tom has served on the CVBT Board of Directors and in the capacity of CVBT Communications Director since 2007. He has served as newsletter editor, battlefield preservation director, membership director and as a five term president of the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield in Spotsylvania, VA. He's former Secretary of the Friends of Fredericksburg Area Battlefields. He has written historical and preservation articles for The Civil War News, The Free Lance-Star, Culpeper Star Exponent, Wilderness Dispatch, The Skirmish Line, and magazines including Blue & Gray. He is employed by Ally Financial serving as an automotive dealer Fixed Operations Consultant in the Southeast. He is also a partner in Heritage Media, LLC. 


Chris Mackowski

Chris Mackowski, Ph.D., is the editor-in-chief of Emerging Civil War and managing editor of the Emerging Civil War Series. He is a professor of journalism and mass communication at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, NY, and historian-in-residence at Stevenson Ridge, a historic property on the Spotsylvania battlefield in central Virginia. He has also worked as a historian for the National Park Service at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, where he gives tours at four major Civil War battlefields (Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania), as well as at the building where Stonewall Jackson died. Chris has authored or co-authored a dozen books on the Civil War, and his articles have appeared in all the major Civil War magazines. Chris serves on the national advisory board for the Civil War Chaplains Museum in Lynchburg, Virginia.



Eric Powell 

Eric Powell has been in education for 28 years. After graduating from Radford University with a bachelor’s degree in social sciences in 1990, he taught social studies at Stafford High School for 18 years. He was named the 1997 Stafford County Teacher of the Year, the 1998 Region III Virginia Teacher of the Year, and won Brenton S. Halsey Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Virginia Historical Society in 2001. Since 2008, Mr. Powell has served as a Social Studies Specialist for both Stafford and Spotsylvania County Schools, and as the Instructional Coordinator at Post Oak Middle School. He has two master degrees: one in history and one in educational leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University. Additionally, Mr. Powell is an Adjunct Instructor at the University of Mary Washington.  He is a member of the 47th Virginia Infantry, Co. I, “The Stafford Guard” and serves as the Inspector General of Longstreet’s Corps. He conducts numerous living history programs for school children throughout the region.


J. Michael Greenfield 

A graduate of Towson State College with a Bachelor of Science degree, Michael worked for the National Park Service for thirty years in six different park areas including four in Virginia. He served as the Supervisory Park Ranger for Resources Protection at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park from December 1986 through February 2004.


Jack A. Blalock

Jack is a partner in Tiburon Associates, Inc., a Department of Defense technical services contractor. He has extensive Business Development experience including working closely with the public and private sector including Congress, the Pentagon, state and local governments to secure support for emerging programs. A lifelong student of the Civil War, he has many ancestors involved in the Civil War including great-great uncle, Col. Logan H.N. Salyer of the 50th Virginia Infantry and great-great-great grandfather Private Louis A. Blalock of the 1st Georgia.

Dave Bohmke

Dave grew up in Southern California and graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. He has over 40 years of banking experience on both coasts having arrived in Fredericksburg in 1997. A frequent visitor to Civil War battlefields near and far, he sticks to reading books rather than writing them. Dave is a past president and over 20 year member of the Rappahannock Rotary Club.

Robert Lee Hodge 

Born on Stonewall Jackson’s birthday Robert has had a keen interest in Civil War history since age 4. Robert interned for the National Park Service's Civil War Sites Advisory Commission. Robert has worked on films – from dramas like ABC's North and South and TNT’s Gettysburg and Andersonville, to many programs on The History Channel, Arts and Entertainment Channel, and the National Geographic Channel, to his own Civil War documentaries that have won 5 Telly awards and a regional Emmy in 2007.  He has been featured on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation, Kojo Nnamdi, and Soundscapes, NBC's Late, Late Show, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Time, the PBS program Going Places, C-SPAN II’s Book TV, and has written for The Nashville Tennessean and The Washington Post. Robert has been a historical researcher at The National Archives, the U.S. Army, and the Library of Congress, working with nationally-recognized experts. He was principle researcher on Time-Life Books 18-volume series Voices of the Civil War and The Illustrated History of the Civil War.  Robert played a major role in, and appears on the cover of, the New York Times' best-seller Confederates in the Attic — hosting Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Tony Horwitz, on a memorable tour-de-force of historic sites. 

Peter R. Kolakowski

Peter earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Ripon College and a Master’s of Public Administration from American University. He has been a resident of the Fredericksburg area since 1972.  He served in the U.S. Army and has been employed in executive management positions in Virginia local government in Fredericksburg, state government working for VDOT, and at the federal government level for the U.S. Navy at Dahlgren.  He has been active supporter of preservation and history projects throughout his career

Charles G. McDaniel 

Charlie is a lifelong resident of Fredericksburg, Virginia. He is chairman of the Hillldrup Companies, involved in moving and storage and real estate activities. His business career includes serving on national boards of several major corporations and national trade associations. He is active in many civic organizations. He had many relatives involved in the Civil War including his grandfather, Private George Weedon, of the 4th Virginia Cavalry, from Stafford County.

John F. McManus

A native of Springfield, Virginia, attorney John McManus has called Fredericksburg, Virginia home for more than 22 years.  As managing partner of Hirschler Fleischer’s Fredericksburg office and a member of the firm’s board of directors, John is active in the local business community and committed to preserving the area’s rich history. Among other leadership roles, John serves on the board of governors for the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region and is a former board member of Rappahannock Goodwill Industries, Inc.


John’s law practices focuses on commercial real estate law, corporate and general business law, and estate planning. He earned his undergraduate degree in History from Bowdoin College, his Master’s degree in Real Estate from Johns Hopkins University and his law degree from Washington & Lee University School of Law. John and his wife Deborah have three sons in college and a yellow lab named Chief.

Jim Pates

Founding Member of CVBT. Jim is a Senior‐level managing attorney and organizational leader with a broad range of professional experience in public and private practice including significant expertise in the oil and gas pipeline industry, administrative enforcement, local government, legislation, and civil litigation. He has served as chief legal officer for the City of Fredericksburg in all civil matters.


Paul Scott

Paul attended public schools as a youth in Fredericksburg.  He graduated from James Monroe High School in 1961 and the University of Virginia with a B.A. degree in 1965.  He served in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps as a Lt. in the Medical Platoon of the 27th Infantry Regiment with service at Schofield Barracks, Hi., and Cu Chi, Vietnam and as an officer in the 13th Field Hospital, Fort Belvoir, Va.  In 1970, he graduated from the T.C. Williams School of Law of the University of Richmond.  He practiced law in Fredericksburg and the vicinity for 44 years retiring in 2014.  He served on governmental and numerous civic organizations, including the Fredericksburg BZA, and as president of HFFI and the Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg. He has had a lifelong interest in history, especially the Civil War. His great-great grandfathers served in the 30th Va. Infantry and the Rockbridge Artillery and his great grandfather served with the 6th Va. Cavalry.

Eric J. Wittenberg

Eric J. Wittenberg is an award-winning historian, blogger, speaker and tour guide. His specialty is Civil War cavalry operations, and much of his work has focused on the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps and on the Gettysburg Campaign. He is the author of 21 published books on the Civil War and more than three dozen articles that have appeared in various national magazines. He is also deeply involved in battlefield preservation work and often assists the Civil War Trust with its efforts. He was a member of the Governor of Ohio’s Advisory Commission on the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. He is a native of southeastern Pennsylvania, and was educated at Dickinson College and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is an attorney in private practice. He and his wife Susan and their golden retrievers reside in Columbus, Ohio.



Terry Rensel

Terry has Bachelor of Arts degrees in History/Political Science and Broadcast Communications from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford in Bradford, PA. and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau, AK.  He is also a member of the Editorial Board for the Emerging Civil War blog. He spent the last 12 years living in Homer, Alaska where he most recently was the General Manager of KBBI, the local public radio station.


Sarah Kay Bierle

Sarah graduated from Thomas Edison State University with a degree in History. She is a popular speaker at history conferences, Civil War Round Tables, and historical societies. Sarah has experience hosting history conferences and also works part-time as the Managing Editor at Emerging Civil War. Her four published books include a nonfiction study on the Battle of New Market and an award-winning historical fiction novel. Sarah continues to look for ways to educate about the past, loves community outreach projects, and searches for innovative ways to help people find the "history in their backyards”. Excited to be living in Virginia, Sarah is also pursuing her research on artillery officers and the Union II Corps and enjoys walking the battlegrounds.