Richmond’s Gaines Mill battlefield to add 285 acres

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Richmond National Battlefield Park (SOURCE: http://www.nps.gov/rich/index.htm)

RICHMOND, Va. —  A major Civil War battlefield in Richmond managed by the National Park Service will nearly quadruple in size thanks to the feds.

The Gaines Mill battlefield at Richmond National Battlefield Park will expand by 285 acres following a $400,000 in Land and Water Conservation Funds that will be used to buy more land from the Civil War Trust.

The property was acquired by the Civil War Trust for $3.2 million in 2012  capped with a matching grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia. The $400,000 in funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund enables the property’s transfer to the National Park Service.

Today’s announcement builds on work undertaken by the Civil War Trust over the last decade to preserve Richmond’s Civil War battlefields, a partnership with the National Park Service that has seen the preservation of 2,524 acres of threatened battlefields in the Richmond area. The land added to the park today lies on the Gaines’ Mill battlefield, which figured prominently in the summer 1862 Seven Days’ campaign waged by Union Gen. George B. McClellan to take the Confederate capital. The June 27, 1862 Confederate victory at Gaines’ Mill, Robert E. Lee’s first as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, radically shifted the strategic initiative in Virginia in favor of the Confederacy. This led to the Confederacy’s first invasion of the North, culminating three months later at the Battle of Antietam.

“The scope of this project completely dwarfs all preservation efforts previously undertaken at Gaines’ Mill,”  Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer said. “In just one transaction, we were able to quintuple the amount of land — from 65 acres to 350 acres — protected at the site of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s first major victory as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.”

More than 22 million people visit Virginia’s 22 national parks, with out-of-town visitors contributing $926 million to the economy. Officials said out-of-town visitors contributed more than $8 million to the local economy in 2012 at the Richmond National Battlefield Park.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell made the announcement on the 50th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which invests part of the revenue from oil and gas leases on federal lands to support communities’ conservation, outdoor recreation and clean water projects, as well as preserve historic sites across the country.