Civil War Talk Radio: June 20, 2008

Air Date: 062008
Subject: Civil War Preservation
Web Site: Civil War Preservation Trust
Guest: Jim Campi

Summary: Civil War Preservation Trust Policy and Communications Director Jim Campi talks Civil War battlefield preservation.

Brett’s Summary: This is the last live show of the summer for 2008. Gerry mentions at the top of the show he will be returning live on August 29, 2008. Jim Campi, like many of Gerry’s interviewees, has been interested in the Civil War since he was a child.

The first monument on a Civil War battlefield was at Stones River, and the first cemetery was at Gettysburg. Not until the 1880s did veterans and the U.S. government get involved in the preservation of battlefields. The Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites

(APCWS) was formed in 1987 to protect the Brandy Station and Chantilly battlefields, saving the former but failing to preserve the latter.

This was the first modern preservation group. A second group, the Civil War Trust, was formed in the early 1990s as a result of a Congressional commission investigating methods of protecting Civil War battlefields.

The Civil War Sites Advisory Commission looked at all 10,000 engagements of the Civil War and the threats against them. They narrowed the list down to 380-odd sites that were the most important to protect. The commission also recommended a Federal matching grants program for protecting Civil War battlefields. The commission concluded its work in 1993. An update is currently being worked on to use in upcoming preservation fights. The American Battlefield Protection Program is working on this update. The two organizations merged after they saw they were duplicating effort.

People interested in donating can go to the CWPT web site. The Civil War Preservation Trust is a not for profit organization and donations are tax deductible. Some preservation efforts have been disasters. One such example is the railroad cut at Gettysburg after what Mr. Campi calls a “raw deal” between Gettysburg College and the National Park Service. Harpers Ferry has recently been in the news as well. In August 2006 some developers knew they needed to have water and sewer access into a property, and needed to put water and sewer access in through some NPS land. The developers waited for a weekend opportunity when the NPS was busy and did the work without approval, and the damage was done before they could be stopped. Unfortunately, the developers have never been taken to task for their illegal efforts by the Department of the Interior. Campi is one of the chief lobbyists in the organization to take the fight to Congress.

There are members of the Civil War Preservation Trust located all around the globe. There are Civil War sites around the world as well where Civil War related events occurred. Brian Pohanka’s extremely generous posthumous donation is mentioned as well. Bentonville, North Carolina is a HUGE success story for the Civil War Preservation Trust, which worked closely with the state of North Carolina to preserve the battlefield. Gerry suggests that preservation and development do not have to be mutually exclusive. Jim agrees, saying that you can have both, but you have to make sure you don’t place the development directly on the battlefield land.

One of the largest preservation defeats of the last ten years occurred last month, says Campi, when a mining operation was allowed to be expanded into the Cedar Creek battlefield. Gerry adds that a preservation group apparently sold out and took land in exchange for putting a stop to their opposition to the mining expansion. Local county supervisors made the ultimate decision to allow this battlefield desecration. The “Third Battle of Manassas” occurred in 1995 when Disney planned to put up a “Civil War Park” near the Manassas battlefields. The large public outcry stopped this plan cold.

Ironically, though, says Mr. Campi, the land was eventually developed by others. Other big victories include saving some land at Chancellorsville and saving the Slaughter Pen farm at Fredericksburg, a site where 5000 men became casualties.

Gerry mentions Perryville, a site which was almost entirely undeveloped, but at the same time almost entirely unprotected. As of June 2008, almost half of the land at Perryville is now protected by the CWPT.

Gerry compares Perryville to some obscure sites in eastern North Carolina which remain undeveloped but also unprotected.

Campi emphasizes that money donated to the CWPT all goes directly to “buying dirt”. It does not go to overhead. He adds that every dollar donated to the CWPT ultimately turns into $4 or more going to land purchases. Gerry ends the hour by asking Jim about the restoration of the view shed at Gettysburg. He wants to know if this concept is going to expand to other battlefields. Jim responds that landscape restoration is becoming more and more important as a concept. He references Antietam as an example as well.

Civil War Talk Radio airs most Fridays at 12 PM Pacific on World Talk Radio Studio A. Host Gerry Prokopowicz, the History Chair at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, interviews a guest each week and discusses their interest in the Civil War. Most interviews center around a book or books if the guest is an author. Other guests over the years have included public historians such as park rangers and museum curators, wargamers, bloggers, and even a member of an American Civil War Round Table located in London, England.

In this series of blog entries, I will be posting air dates, subjects, and guests, and if I have time, I’ll provide a brief summary of the program. You can find all of the past episodes I’ve entered into the blog by clicking on the Civil War Talk Radio category. Each program should appear either on or near the date it was first broadcast.






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