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47 acres of Land Donations to CVBT for Battlefield Preservation, Valued at more than $1,000,000

It has been months of behind-the-scenes work, but in autumn 2021, CVBT announced the exciting news of two donations of battlefield land from local developers at The Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. Fawn Lake Holdings, LLC, has graciously gifted 30.4 acres of The Wilderness Battlefield to Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, increasing the preserved land along historic Orange Plank Road.

CVBT extends special thanks to Mark Doherty, Lee Garrison, and John McManus (CVBT Board member) for their dedication to preserving this land where history happened.

On the morning of May 6, Ulysses S. Grant launched a major assault against Confederates along the Orange Plank Road, spearheaded by Winfield Scott Hancock’s Second Corps, which pushed from east to west. Even as things looked dire for the routed Confederates, James Longstreet’s First Corps arrived on the scene and counterattacked, pushing from west to east. The donated acreage saw major fighting in both phases of this see-saw action.

Describing this blood-soaked area of the battlefield, John Haley of the 17th Maine said, “The great, dark woods are filled with dead and wounded from both sides.” Another soldier likened it to a “vast, weird, horrible slaughter pen.” This is hallowed ground, and it is an honor to be able to preserve it.

At Spotsylvania Court House, Rappahannock Plantation, LLC, has made a generous donation of approximately 17.75 acres of the Myer’s Hill Battlefield, along and within the Woodbury Manor subdivision. The hallowed ground will also provide an important access and future interpretation point for the battlefield. This generous gift brings the total preserved land at Myer’s Hill to a little over 91 acres. Special thanks goes to Sean Haynes, the owner and manager of the company, and Chris Hornung, the engineer who works for Sean as part of his other company, Rappahannock Development Group, LLC, and CVBT Board member John McManus for facilitating this gift that adds to the understanding of what happened at the lesser-known Battle of Myer’s Hill.

On May 14, after the failed attack against the Mule Shoe salient, Grant tried to shift his Fifth and Sixth Corps to his left for another major attack, this one targeted against the unsuspecting Confederate right flank. Because of rain and muddy roads, he could not get his army to move fast enough. He settled instead for a smaller assault to take a piece of high ground called Myer’s Hill that would have provided Confederates with an artillery position. Federals took the hill and then occupied it with a brigade under newly minted Brig. Gen. Emory Upton, whose regiments dug in. The remains of their earthworks are easily visible on this newly acquired property at Woodbury Manor. Confederates launched a counterattack against the position that drove the Federals off the hill and nearly led to the capture of Army of the Potomac commander George Gordon Meade, who responded with a massive counterattack of his own, retaking the hill once more by evening. Lee abandoned the position and pulled his army back along Court House Road.

Aside from the new property’s historical value, it has incredible value to CVBT because our previous holdings of 73 acres at Myer’s Hill were effectively landlocked, but this new donation gives us an easy public access point to the property. According to CVBT President Tom Van Winkle, “Months of work have been rewarded by making the best of our resources and finding exceptional individuals and companies willing to work with CVBT.”

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