The property played a pivotal role in the 1862 Battle of Williamsburg, the first pitched battle of the Peninsula Campaign.
“I am thrilled that two great institutions, the Civil War Trust and Anheuser-Busch, have joined together to protect this important property,” said Governor McAuliffe, who spoke at a news conference to unveil the project. “Across the country, there is a critical need to preserve battlefields. It’s estimated we lose an acre every hour. In Virginia, we are dedicated to reversing that trend so that these treasures can be a benefit to tourists and to our economy for generations to come.”
The Civil War Trust hopes the property will be the anchor for a future battlefield park. In the mean time, the Williamsburg Land Conservancy, a local land trust, will oversee the site.
“We could not be more excited about this opportunity,” said Jim Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust. “By donating this land for preservation, Anheuser-Busch continues its tradition of honoring our nation's military and supporting American history. It also protects, for the first time, a significant portion of the Civil War battlefield at Williamsburg.”
The site’s preservation will offer several benefits.
“The protection of this property will add valuable open space to the community and enhance the region’s opportunities for heritage tourism,” saidVirginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “Our Civil War battlefields are places for visitors to learn and quietly contemplate that difficult period of history.”
The property donated by Anheuser-Busch is the largest part of Williamsburg Battlefield ever set aside for preservation. It is the only piece of the property protected from development.
“The hallowed grounds in Williamsburg echo this country's history and should be protected,” said Rick Shippey, senior general manager of Anheuser-Busch's Williamsburg brewery. “As a long-time member of the Williamsburg community and supporter of our country's military, Anheuser-Busch is honored that this partnership resulted in the opportunity to preserve sacred lands for future generations.”
On May 5, 1862, more than 70,000 troops clashed in the Battle of Williamsburg. Fighting broke out as Confederate troops were retreating from Yorktown following a month-long siege by the Union Army. Close to 4,000 soldiers died, and the battle ended indecisively.
The Civil War Trust has preserved more than 40,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. More than half of the acres preserved are in Virginia.