Did you know that many of our Civil War battlefields, forts, and other sites are in danger of being swallowed up by development?
Actually, this has been happening for a long time.
The Civil War Trust, a preservation organization, estimates that at least 20% of our Civil War battlefields are already destroyed. In some states, the figures are more dire. For example, in Texas, only about 21% of Civil War acreage remains.
One recent example: A Wal-Mart attempt to build a superstore near the Wilderness Battlefield in Virginia failed, after the story went national, in 2011.
Here are some more endangered battlefields and Civil War related sites:
1. Camp Allegheny, West Virginia - the threat here is construction of wind turbines. I do not know the current status of this situation.
2. Ft. Palmetto, Mt. Pleasant, SC the remains of this fort are threatened by a housing development. (Thank you, blogger Carolina Heartstrings, for alerting me to this.)
3. Cedar Creek, Virginia - expansion of a nearby mine
4. This one may surprise you - Gettysburg, the battlefield that was the turning point of the Civil War in 1863 - a proposed casino. (this, by the way, is not the only endangered site in Pennsylvania)
I viewed a site in Manassas, Virginia, where development came right up against a Civil War site that was up on a hill.
I also blogged recently about Camp Elmira, a notorious Civil War prisoner of war camp, which is partially in a residential neighborhood of Elmira, NY.
So....why should we care?
Because it is our history?
Because it is our heritage?
Because, in some instances, these sites were where our ancestors died?
Because those who don't care about their history are truly rootless?
My ancestors came to this country after the Civil War but I still feel that pull, that tug, to study it. Going to where history happened makes it come alive. It isn't at all like a dry textbook. It gives context. It allows you to smell, to feel, to see, what happened. It allows you to use your imagination. It is the best way to teach young and old alike.
How ironic, during this commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we are still fighting the Battle of Preservation.
Unlike the Civil War, which lasted from 1861-1865, we will be fighting this Battle of Preservation for many years to come.