Many think all Civil War battlefields are protected by governments, and exist as parks we can visit to learn about Civil War history. If you think that, you are sadly mistaken. Battlefields have been lost to housing developments, to shopping malls, and even to highways. At least one battlefield, Chantilly (Ox Hill), in Virginia, has been destroyed. Missionary Ridge, in Tennessee (which I visited briefly in 2006 and have no pictures of) is mainly a residential housing development with pockets ("reservations") where history is preserved.
We lose our battlefields, our historical heritage, at our risk. The people of our country (Union and Confederate) paid a heavy price for this war, the war that made our nation a nation, and this must never be forgotten.
When I lived near Canehill, some thirty years ago, I would see a historical marker on my way to and from work. Because I had no children at the time, I have no idea how the local schools (Lincoln school district - an interesting name for a town in a former Confederate State) even taught about the Civil War, which almost destroyed the economy of the area around Cane Hill and Lincoln. And, no one in the area seemed to ever talk about it. So it took me thirty years to actually learn the history that was under my feet (so to speak) all those years ago.
These are some facts about Civil War battlefields that may surprise you.
A study indicates there were some 10,500 "conflicts" during the Civil War, ranging from minor skirmishes to major battles with thousands of casualties. About 384 of these "conflicts" are considered "battles".
Battles are ranked according to a system that assigns them a letter from A to D.
Quoting from the National Park Service website (which is back up as our government has reopened - hurray!):
- 45 sites (12%) were ranked "A" (having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war);
- 104 sites (27%) were ranked "B" (having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign);
- 128 sites (33%) were ranked "C" (having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign);
- 107 sites (28%) were ranked "D" (having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives).
- Four percent (16 battlefields) are owned principally by the Federal government or by other public agencies.
- Forty-three percent (164 battlefields) are completely in private ownership.
- An additional forty-nine percent (187) are under some combination of Federal, state, local, or private ownership, although predominantly the latter.
The Cane Hill (November 28, 1862, tactical Confederate victory) battlefield is not easy to learn about. There is no park. You can find out about it at a state park for a different battle up the road a few miles, or online. It is an interesting challenge to learn about the battle, one challenge that my husband and I decided to take this past August. I encourage you to do this kind of thing at least once during your Civil War journey, just to appreciate the job that people preserving our Civil War Heritage do - oftentimes unappreciated.
Because the development that has consumed so much of Northwest Arkansas in recent years has (mostly) bypassed the Cane Hill area, it is considered "one of the best opportunities in Arkansas for comprehensive preservation of a battlefield landscape", again according to the National Park Service
In my next Civil War Sunday - our experience with our first battlefield without a park.