Virginia: Civil War Trust, Virginia Team-Up for $3.2M Gaines Mill Preservation

RICHMOND, Va. — The Civil War Trust has teamed up with the state to complete a $3.2 million campaign protecting 285 acres at Gaines’ Mill, where Gen. Robert E. Lee had his first major victory as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

The preservation greatly expands the number of protected acres at Gaines’ Mill, the bloodiest chapter in the Seven Days’ Battles, making it a “monumental achievement” in the trust’s history, president James Lighthizer said.

James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust, speaks during a news conference announcing the purchase of 285 acres of land at the Gaines Mill Civil War battlefield site Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 in Mechanicsville, VA. Gaines' Mill is where Gen. Robert E. Lee had his first major victory as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. Photo: Steve Helber / AP

“Prior to this, only 65 acres of this crucial battlefield had been protected,” he said in a statement prepared for the formal announcement. “With just one purchase, we have more than quintupled the amount of land at Gaines’ Mill preserved forever.”

The entire 285 acres are within the boundary of the Richmond National Battlefield Park, so the trust will turn over the property to the National Park Service for long-term stewardship and interpretation for visitors.

The preservation was completed with a $1.5 million transportation enhancement matching grant from the state. The property’s historic significance and the looming prospect of development made it an ideal candidate for the funding, said Sean T. Connaughton, Virginia’s secretary of transportation.

“The commonwealth of Virginia is committed to making the permanent protection of historic and scenic landscapes like this one an important part of the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War,” Connaughton said in a statement.

Gaines’ Mill is full of history — from Lee’s powerful assault against Union lines just outside the capital of the Confederacy to the use of observation balloons by both sides, a first.

The battle was fought on June 27, 1862, and was the second of the Seven Days’ Battles in which the Confederates sought to blunt federal forces that moved up the Virginia Peninsula with their sights set on Richmond.

Historians believe Lee unleashed upwards of 32,000 men in 16 brigades, far overshadowing the 12,500-man Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. The 15,500 casualties made it the second bloodiest battle of the war to that point, topped only by Shiloh, Tenn., 2½ months earlier.

In its 1993 study, the Civil War sites Advisory Commission rated Gaines’ Mill a Priority I, Class A designation. That made it one of the 11 top candidates for preservation in the U.S.

A group of prominent Richmond residents purchased 60 acres of the battlefield nearly a century ago. The land was donated to the state and ultimately the National Park Service. The trust’s campaign to raise $3.2 million for the 285 acres was launched in 2011.

“The inclusion of this truly historical land will be a tremendous boon the park,” Superintendent Dave Ruth said. “For the first time, visitors will be able to retrace the dramatic Confederate Charge of June 27, 1862 — by many accounts, Robert E. Lee’s largest assault of the war.”

The Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the nation. It has preserved more than 34,000 acres of battlefield in 20 states, more than half of that in Virginia.

The Associated Press


Georgia: University Officer Under Fire for Confederate Flag Facebook Post

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — A Clayton State University police officer is coming under fire after he posted a Facebook message with a Confederate flag and the message, “It’s time for the second revolution.”

Capt. Rex Duke said the message he put on his Facebook page two days after the recent election is his personal opinion and has nothing to do with his job.

Channel 2’s Tom Jones talked to students at Clayton State University about the posting and many were stunned.

“That’s very controversial to be putting that on there,” student Amber Young said.

Another student was surprised it was posted by a captain with the police department.

“And with the profession that he has, that’s very unprofessional to do,” student Willie Talmadge said.

Two days after the Nov. 6 election, Duke changed his profile picture to the controversial post.

“What I do on my personal Facebook page is my personal life. It has no connection to the campus. It’s my personal business,” Duke told Jones by phone.

But students said in this day and age your personal opinions can get you in trouble.

“A lot of people have gotten fired for what they had on their personal website,” student Candice Conner said.

A Clayton State representative told Jones the university doesn’t have a policy that deals with employees and their personal social sites.

Jones asked Duke if the comment about a revolution was targeted at President Obama.

He told Jones he meant revolution to get rid of the politicians. “We need to vote them out,” he said.

Students wonder how Duke can separate his personal feelings from his job duties.

“I feel like comments like that you need to keep to yourself. Not put it on social media websites,” student Bryson Manzi said.

Duke said the Confederate flag was a way to pay tribute to his heritage and culture.

The university said it is now investigating the matter. See the video here.

–Ton Jones,


North Carolina: County Moves to Limit Confederate Flag Display

WAYNESVILLE, N.C. — Confederate flags have been taking root on the Haywood County Courthouse lawn, and county leaders Monday night took a step toward limiting them.

A policy change introduced at a Board of Commissioners meeting would allow for display of thefirst national flag of the Confederacy only onConfederate Memorial Day, which is May 10 in North Carolina. And policy still might see a legal challenge.

Confederate flag supporter Larry Bradley, wearing a representation of the Confederate battle flag on his sweatshirt, talks to Haywood County commissioners Monday night in Waynesville, N.C. (Photo: Jon Ostendorff, Ashville (N.C.) Citizen-Times)

“We believe that it is patently unconstitutional if it’s adopted they way they have worded it,” said Kirk D. Lyons, chief trial counsel of the Southern Legal Resource Center. Lyons represents the Sons of Confederate Veterans in North Carolina.

The policy would ban the more popular Confederate battle flag altogether and allow for the Stars and Bars only at the Confederate Memorial at the courthouse with permission of the county manager.

Only two flags of any kind would be allowed at each of the courthouse memorials, and that includes those for World War II and Vietnam. The flags could not be larger than 12 by 16 inches.

Lyons told county commissioners during their meeting Monday that requiring a 30-day notice before displaying a flag is unreasonable. The requirement would have a “chilling effect” on free speech, he said.

The government also has no right to say which flags may or may not be displayed on its property, Lyons said.

He took exception to the choice of the flag, saying it was not the official flag of the Confederacy.

“We will oppose this policy as it written today with every fiber in our being,” he said.

Lyons has provided legal help to white supremacists and people involved in patriot or militia movements.

Commissioners’ Chairman Mark Swanger said before the meeting Monday that the proposal is consistent with North Carolina law.

The board did not vote on the policy. He said the vote probably would be in December.

Earlier this year, the city of Lexington, Va., decided to keep the Confederate battle flag off municipal light poles. The Sons of Confederate Veterans had provided the city about 40 flags and paid to have city workers install them on the light poles for Lee-Jackson Day, a Virginia state holiday honoring Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Sons of Confederate Veterans challenged the law; a federal judge dismissed the suit in June.

The Haywood County policy is needed because of “the proliferation of various materials on the courthouse lawn,” including Confederate flags, Swanger said.

County staff has removed flags only to find them replaced.

Swanger said the policy, which applies to all county property, is a good idea.

“I think it’s moving in a positive direction,” he said.

Confederate flag supporter Larry Bradley said he would like to see more days for the flag to be displayed. He said one of the biggest problems with government is it doesn’t listen to the people.

“That’s what we are asking you to do: Simply listen,” he said.

–Jon Ostendorff, Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times


Virginia: Trees Planted to Thank Civil War Veterans

In commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground (JTHG) partnership has launched an initiative of national significance called the Living Legacy Project. The plan is to dedicate a tree for each of the more than 620,000 soldiers who died during the American Civil War.

The kick-off for the project was held Thanksgiving week at Oatlands Historic House and Gardens, which is a National Trust Historic Site at the geographical center of the JTHG National Scenic Byway. More than 400 trees will be either planted or dedicated at Oatlands as part of this program.

Virginia’s Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton and National Trust for Historic Preservation President and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Meeks both were scheduled to speak at the dedication ceremony.

Trees Are a Vital Legacy
“Trees play a central role in the history at Oatlands, from the magnificent maples and oaks that line the drive, to the stunning specimen trees that preside over Oatlands’ historic buildings and walled garden,” said Oatlands Board Chair Michael J. O’Connor in a press release. He continued:

The trees, many of which were standing during the Civil War, are considered premier and priceless specimens.The planting of over 400 trees for the Living Legacy Project will reduce our carbon footprint, create a wonderful habitat for wildlife, improve air quality, provide shade for our visitors and increase the natural beauty of Oatlands, while honoring the rich history and sacrifice of those who have gone before us.

“We believe this is the time and place to create and implement a living legacy that continues to heal wounds as it humbles every American with a perspective on the tragedy of the war,” said David F. Williams, the Board Chair of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, whose family owns property adjacent to the site and has also agreed to participate in the initiative. “These trees will not only improve and unify the landscape along the corridor but are a fitting tribute to the fallen soldiers of America’s Civil War.”

This is the first phase of the tree planting project, which will eventually stretch along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway, a 180-mile swath of land that runs from Gettysburg, Pa. to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville, Va.

Lincoln’s Words on Saying Thanks by Healing Wounds
President Abraham Lincoln, in his proclamation announcing the Thanksgiving holiday in 1863 invited the country to:

Set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day for thanksgiving and praise… commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

Geo-Tags Permit Donors to Specify a Soldier’s Story and a Tree
The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership is actively engaged in raising the necessary funds to complete this $65 million initiative. Individuals, businesses, schools and community groups from around the world can contribute to this project.

Donors who contribute $100 may select a soldier to honor, as the trees will be geo-tagged to allow smartphone users to learn the story of the soldier, providing a strong educational component to engage interest in the region’s historical heritage and literally bringing the tree to life. For more information on the Living Legacy Project, visit

The JTHG National Scenic Byway, which crosses the Mason Dixon Line, serves as a link to each of the battlefields and connects over 30 historic communities, each of which was gravely impacted by the Civil War. The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area holds the largest concentration of Civil War battlefield sites in the country, including the beginning of the War (Harpers Ferry and Manassas), the middle (Antietam and Gettysburg) and the end (Appomattox).

Oatlands Historic House and Gardens is a National Trust Historic Site and a National Historic Landmark. Tours of the Classical Revival mansion are offered daily and visitors may enjoy the four-and-a-half acres of historic gardens. The property boasts the oldest greenhouse in Virginia. Call 703-777-3174 for additional information or visit

For more stories of America’s past, please visit

–Kate Kelly, Huffington Post