Civil War Trust Has Success At Perryville
(December 2012 Civil War News)

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PERRYVILLE, Ky. — As the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Perryville was commemorated, Civil War battlefield preservationists and the Civil War Trust celebrated the protection of 572 Perryville battle acres in the past year.

Trust president James Lighthizer said additional opportunities are on the horizon to save additional land that saw Kentucky’s largest Civil War battle. All told, the Trust has now helped preserve 957 acres at Perryville.

Fundraising toward the purchase of 121 acres southeast of the park, an area called the “Slaughter Pen” by those who fought there, is still ongoing. It was on this site that the 22nd Indiana Infantry sustained 65.3 percent casualties, the highest rate of any regiment at Perryville.

“Even though we have already signed the deed on this property, I don’t consider a piece of ground fully ‘saved’ until we own it free and clear,” Lighthizer said.

“Working with our stalwart partners at the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site, we have made immense progress in ensuring that a critical mass of significant historic land is set aside for generations yet to come,” he said.

Among the most recent Trust transactions is purchase of a conservation easement held by the Bluegrass Conservancy on 311 acres to the immediate north and east of the state park. This core battlefield land, which includes historic road traces and the antebellum Walker House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is where Confederate Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham massed his troops to launch the battle’s first attack.

The purchase was made possible through private donations and federal matching grant funding from the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program.

Thanks to $2.5 million in federal matching grant funding announced by National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis in September, a Perryville acquisition the Trust is pursuing is eligible for a $43,000 federal contribution.

In the past year the Trust participated in the protection of four other properties at Perryville, three through purchase and one by conservation easement.

The largest project was the purchase of 141 acres containing the site of Henry Bottom’s “burning barn,” a battlefield landmark.

As part of the 150th anniversary reenactment weekend at Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site some of the newly protected land was open to the public, with reenactor contributions being donated toward its purchase price.

“This land hasn’t seen a soldier on it since 1862,” according to park preservation specialist Joan House. “It’s a great honor to get on this property for the 150th anniversary. It’s a big deal — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Properties previously preserved by the Civil War Trust were incorporated in the park, most recently with the transfer of 54 acres in 2010.

Lighthizer said the Trust’s goal “is always to see that historic battlefield land be placed in the care of a responsible steward who can interpret it and provide an outstanding visitor experience.”

The Oct. 8, 1862, battle in which 38,000 men engaged ended with Confederate withdrawal and the Union in control of Kentucky.