Civil War Trust Gives Three Preservation Awards
(August 2012 Civil War News)
RICHMOND, Va. — During a banquet held during its Annual Conference, Civil War Trust president James Lighthizer praised the individuals and organizations receiving the 2012 Preservation Awards for their lasting achievements in the cause of Civil War preservation.
The evening marked the culmination of four days of lectures, tours and special programming based at the Omni Hotel in downtown Richmond.
“Their efforts stretch across decades, demonstrating the way that concerted and consistent work can culminate in monumental achievements that will be felt for generations to come,” Lighthizer said of the honorees.
He noted that the conference coincided with the 25th anniversary of the modern battlefield preservation movement. In the summer of 1987 a group of historians, disturbed by the destruction of the Northern Virginia Chantilly Battlefield for a shopping mall, formed the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (APCWS), a direct ancestor of the current Civil War Trust.
To mark the occasion, Lighthizer showed a short video highlighting some of the organization’s greatest achievements and outlining a vision for the next phase in the movement. The video is available on the Trust website at www.civilwar.org/ourmissionvideo.
The three 2012 Preservation Awards are:
Edwin C. Bearss Lifetime Achievement Award: This honor was given to three individuals who have demonstrated “exceptional merit in and extensive commitment to Civil War battlefield preservation, dating back to the very origins of the modern movement.”
The award honors Ed Bearss, the popular battlefield guide and historian who is the National Park Service Chief Historian emeritus.
Edward Wenzel of Vienna, Va., was one of the original voices advocating on behalf of the Chantilly Battlefield, the destruction of which led to the creation of the APCWS. His work led to a Washington Post front-page story in October 1986 that created the first national uproar over a battlefield’s destruction.
He was also a driving force in the Save the Battlefield Coalition, which fought against a proposed mall at Manassas in 1988, and a founding board member of the APCWS.
Clark B. “Bud” Hall of Heathsville, Va., was another of the earliest crusaders for preservation at Chantilly, alongside Edward Wenzel. In addition to working with the fledgling APCWS, Hall went on to found the Brandy Station Foundation, which defeated various development schemes, including a Formula One racetrack proposed for the battlefield.
Today, the Civil War Trust considers the preserved and interpreted Brandy Station Battlefield one of its crowning achievements.
His late wife, Deborah Fitts, received the same award posthumously in 2008. A recent Culpeper Star-Exponent feature story about Hall’s preservation work can be read at www2.starexponent.com/news/2012/jun/14/hall-honored-cwpt-award-ar-1987435
Tersh Boasberg of Washington, D.C., a leading land use and preservation attorney, provided the legal expertise that enabled some of the earliest battlefield preservation victories.
His belief in the necessity of a formal inquiry to establish the status of preservation at the full range of battlefields was a contributing factor in the establishment of the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission. He spent a decade as chair of Washington, D.C.’s Historic Preservation Review Board.
Carrington Williams Battlefield Preservationist of the Year Award: This award, named for the first chairman of the Civil War Trust, was presented to Mark Perreault of Norfolk, Va., whose efforts as a co-founder of Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park were instrumental to the designation of the 396th unit of the National Park System.
Fort Monroe was the site of Union Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler’s landmark “contraband decision,” whereby escaped slaves who reached Union lines would be deemed contraband of war and not returned to their masters. By war’s end, more than 10,000 men and women in bondage had made the journey to “Freedom’s Fortress.”
Brian C. Pohanka Preservation Organization of the Year Award: This award honors the late Brian Pohanka, a historian and one of the founders of the modern battlefield preservation movement. Awards were presented to the Museum of the Confederacy and Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison.
Founded in 1896, the Richmond museum owns the world’s most comprehensive collection of artifacts and documents related to the Confederate States of America, in total over 130,000 items — the vast majority of which soldiers and their families donated.
On March 31 the museum opened a state-of-the-art facility to conserve and display additional key pieces of the collection in Appomattox, Va.
Since its founding in 2001, the Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison in Ohio have worked to preserve, reclaim and interpret a prisoner of war camp that housed 10,000 Confederate officers.
Working with Heidelberg University’s Center for Historic and Military Archaeology, the Friends have brought more than 10,000 middle and high school students to the island, where they have participated in an experiential learning program in historic archaeology, helping uncover and study the site.