Kirsten Talken-Spaulding and John Hennessy with Sen. Kaine at Chatham Manor.

Sen. Kaine Visits Fredericksburg to Celebrate American Battlefield Act

by | Mar 12, 2016 | Government

By Susan Larson. Photos copyright Fredericksburg.Today.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) made his first ever visit to Chatham Manor on March 11, 2016, as part of a visit to Fredericksburg celebrating the reauthorization of the American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act.

The program provided a $1.2 million grant to help the Civil War Trust purchase land at the Benchmark Road site in Fredericksburg, where a local builder had planned a townhouse development.

The land adjoins Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, where Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade’s breakthrough of Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s line was “a key moment that almost turned the tide of the battle and American history,” according to Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer.

“I wanted to come and see the place that will benefit from the bill,” Kaine said.

The Civil War Trust is combining donor money with federal and state grants to fund the land purchase. Fredericksburg-based Central Virginia Battlefields Trust has applied for a $100,000 grant from the Virginia Battlefield Preservation Fund to help with the purchase.

Kirsten Talken-Spaulding, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park Superintendent, and Chief Historian John Hennessy gave Kaine a briefing at Chatham.

The entourage, which included Civil War Trust Board Member Bill Vodra and Central Virginia Battlefields Trust Chief Administrator Ben Brockenbrough, then visited Sunken Road before driving to Prospect Hill to overlook the land purchase.

The Battlefield Protection Act has preserved 24,000 acres of at-risk Civil War battlefield land in 16 states, including 11,500 acres in Virginia – more than any other state, according to Lighthizer. A 2013 study found that compared to average tourists, tourists visiting Civil War battlefields stay twice as long and spend double the money.

The bipartisan American Battlefield Protection Program was introduced by Kaine and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), and U.S. Representatives Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), and was signed into law by President Obama in December 2014.

Editor’s Note: The Civil War Trust has a $24.09 to $1 matching opportunity available for this land purchase. You may make a donation at Save Fredericksburg 2016.

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This story was updated to include information about donating to the land purchase. -sl

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