Civil War battlefield purchased
Civil War battlefield purchased
By Peggy Shaw - Staff Writer - Tennessean
"105 acres to be preserved, donated to Fort Donelson"
DOVER, Tenn. — Land near Fort Donelson that has been called the second-most important unprotected Civil War battlefield property in the country has been purchased by the Civil War Preservation Trust and will probably be donated to the Fort Donelson National Battlefield Park.
Approximately 105 acres south of Dover was purchased in three tracts by the trust in December for about $350,000, said Jim Campi, director of policy and communications for the preservation group based in Washington, D.C.
Half the money to purchase the land came from the trust; the other half came from the $50 million federal Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act, signed into law by President Bush in December. About $10 million a year in matching funds is being contributed over the next five years to preserve significant battlefields not located on federal property.
Campi said the purchase includes the 48-acre Bogard family tract east of Forge Road in Dover.
''It was where 70% of the Union casualties occurred during the battle and where Nathan Bedford Forrest broke out of the Union lines,'' Campi said.
Ed Bearss, chief historian emeritus for the National Park Service, has called the tract ''one of the most unprotected battlefield areas left in the U.S.,'' Campi added.
The rest of the property comprises the 43-acre Bell family tract and the 14-acre Carson family tract.
The land will probably be donated to Fort Donelson, Campi said, ''particularly the part where the casualties occurred.''
Richard Hanks, Fort Donelson superintendent, agreed. ''It will eventually be included inside the park boundary after bills have been introduced in Congress to expand the park. We'll have to evaluate how we'll use it, but part of it will be left as battlefield, and someday we may use it as a tour route.
''This is very, very significant historical property. It's a wonderful step for the future of this park and the community, because it will allow this park to become more widely recognized.''
The Battle of Fort Donelson began on Feb. 13, 1862. Confederate forces surrendered on Feb. 16. ''That meant they lost (control of) the rivers and then there was a straight shot to Nashville,'' explained Thomas Cartwright, director of Carter House in Franklin.
''That was the beginning of what happened on April 6 and 7 at Shiloh.
With Donelson being lost, Nashville was lost, and then pretty much all of the state of Tennessee.''
The Civil War Preservation Trust was able to negotiate the land deal ''through local preservationists letting us know about opportunities,'' Campi said.
''That's what we're in business for — to find out about these opportunities and make sure the land is preserved and not fall into the hands of developers.''
Fort Donelson, and the purchase of the additional property, will be discussed tonight at a Battle of Nashville Preservation Society meeting in the Belmont Mansion on the campus of Belmont University.
The 6:30 meeting, open to the public, will be in the Massey School dining room. Speakers are Hanks and Jim Jobe, Fort Donelson historian.