Battlefield Trust raising $177K to preserve more of Perryville Battlefield

Published 8:43 pm Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The American Battlefield Trust is well on its way of securing about $1 million to purchase 128 acres adjacent to the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Park.

According to the ABT website, the purchase price and closing costs will be $1,049,523. If the trust can raise $177,761 — just 17% of the cost — then it can apply for a grant of $462,762 from the federal American Battlefield Protection Program. Plus, ABT has received notice that it will definitely be awarded a $400,000 grant from the HTR Foundation, a charitable foundation established in 1997 to save Civil War history through battlefield preservation and educational programs, according to its website.

Perryville Battlefield State Park Director Joni House said the trust already owns about 200 acres of pristine land adjacent to the state park. She said the state doesn’t have the money to make land purchases to expand the park, so it depends on private organizations to help preserve as much of the original battlefield as possible.

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With the upcoming purchase of the 128-acre tract, Perryville Battlefield will be “90% preserved,” House said.

The ABT will have the property in its holdings so the state won’t own it, House explained. However, “at some point the state will be the owner of the property. The local non-profit Friends of Perryville Battlefield will help manage the habitat on the land, House said.

The tract being purchased was “the heaviest engagement on the battlefield. It’s one of the most historic pieces.”

In a letter posted on the trust’s website from the president of the ABT on July 17, Jim Lighthizer wrote, “The property offers a tremendous opportunity for historical and recreational tourism, while preserving a unique historical resource that will benefit the citizens of the local community, state, and nation. However, if we cannot save this land, the tracts may be lost to development, thus preventing any future public access, and compromising the rest of the preserved battlefield.”

He added that Perryville Battlefield needs to be preserved “to tell the full story of the Civil War. … It would be just as much of a crime to see this hallowed ground desecrated by houses or other development in coming years, as it would be to lose 128 acres at Gettysburg, Antietam or Chancellorsville.”

Lighthizer wrote that Perryville was the largest and bloodiest battle fought in Kentucky. “Perryville saw more casualties (7,600) than many other well-known battles — far bloodier than Champion Hill (6,700), Resaca (5,600) or Kennesaw Mountain (4,000). The one-day battle of Perryville saw more casualties than all of Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign combined!”