Preservation Opportunity in the Western Theater

Our friends at the Civil War Trust sent along this announcement and opportunity to preserve more battlefield ground in the Western Theater. Continue reading for more information about this opportunity and how you can get involved.

“With the exception of Virginia, no state endured more significant Civil War battles than Tennessee. It was in Tennessee — during the war’s early stages — where Gen. Ulysses S. Grant first gained national recognition by demanding and securing the “unconditional surrender” of a Confederate army at Fort Donelson. In 1863, the nation’s gaze was again fixed upon the Volunteer State as Union and Confederate troops vied for control of Chattanooga. And it was in Tennessee that Gen. John Bell Hood launched a last-ditch effort to strike back at the Yankees, resulting in inconceivable suffering at Franklin and ultimate defeat at Nashville.

In recognition of the state’s importance during our nation’s defining conflict, you and I have already saved 3,491 acres in Tennessee, allowing future generations to walk the ground where history was made.

Today, we have the opportunity to save an additional 15 acres at three battlefields in Tennessee: Fort Donelson, Brown’s Ferry (near Chattanooga), and Franklin. We will be adding to the 639 acres we have already saved at these three battlefields—more tiles in the mosaic of Tennessee’s rich Civil War heritage. Thanks to a magnificent $21.17-to-$1 match, you and I can save this land—worth a combined total of $1.5 million—for just $73,250!

Help us build on our previous successes in Tennessee and save these three Tennessee battlefields.

’Til the Battle is Won,

Jim Lighthizer, President
Civil War Trust

P.S. Please join our efforts to save 15 acres at Fort Donelson, Brown’s Ferry, and Franklin. 

Preservation News: CVBT Announces Preservation Award Recipient

Our friends at the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust have recently released their Winter 2017-2018 newsletter, On the skirmish line. In this latest issue, they share the news of the recent recipient of their Dr. Michael P. Stevens Preservation Award, D.P. Newton. Keep reading below for the full story on this exciting announcement.

“The CVBT Board of Directors chose D.P. Newton to be the recipient of its Dr. Michael P. Stevens Preservation Award, which was created to recognize an individual or an organization that has made a significant and sustained contribution to our understanding of Civil War history. The recipient does not get to keep the award itself, which remains in the CVBT office, but they do get to keep a $1,000 contribution to that individual or organization.

We have said this before, but it bears repeating. The cash award does not come from CVBT member donations. Instead, it comes exclusively from the CVBT board itself, our way of honoring Dr. Mike. The recipients can use those funds in any way they see fit, although most use them to continue their respective preservation missions.

D.P. Newton is a native of Stafford County, Virginia who made his living as a waterman.
In his off-time, he explored the many places around his home that were associated with the Civil War, but he did more than just casually get out-and about with a metal detector. He has systematically and methodically recovered artifacts from thousands of hut holes in hundreds of Union winter camps, and developed maps and notes that are a significant resource for additional study. He has also explored the vast Federal supply depot at Aquia Creek Landing, as well as the shore batteries along the Potomac River that effectively blocked maritime access to Washington D.C. and which were subsequently shelled by the Union navy.

A lifetime of metal detecting provided a substantial collection of artifacts, some of them quite rare, and D.P. eventually decided to present them to the public. He worked diligently to adapt an old brick school house into a museum, whose setting is also of interest. The school house, now a museum, sits across the road from White Oak Church, a
sanctuary that dates back to Colonial days. The Union Sixth Corps had its camp in the White Oak area during the winter of 1862-63.

As for the museum itself, visitors can see the usual collection of bullets, belt buckles, projectiles, bottles, bayonets, etc., but there is so much more. As an example, D.P. has re-established a camp site, with three winter huts, in intricate detail. He displays a collection of coins and medallions that were adapted by soldiers to be identification tags. He has a section of timbers from an actual corduroy road. He found almost every piece of a 13-inch mortar round, fired from a Union naval vessel at one of the Stafford shore batteries. He built a replica cannon, in exact detail, that greets visitors at the museum entrance.

And then there are the maps and the notes. There are those relic hunters who find their metal artifacts and move on. D.P. Newton would take the extra steps to make sure that what he found in the field would be useful to other types of research. The White Oak Museum houses D.P.’s documentation of the camps he has searched and the historic sites he has explored. D.P. Newton has done a phenomenal job in establishing the means to display a lifetime of dedicated work and research. We are all the richer for his efforts and it is the CVBT’s great pleasure to recognize him with our Dr. Michael P. Stevens
Preservation Award. SL”

Florida’s “Cow Cavalry”

Napoleon Bonaparte once prophetically stated, “An army marches on its stomach.” A simple yet very truthful statement and a point that brought major concern and consternation to many a military leader before and after the French leader uttered those six words.


Top of monument dedicated to the “Cow Cavalry” (author collection)

In 1863, the state of Florida would prove its worth to the Confederacy. The 11th out of 11 states in population, Florida sent its native sons to the war effort, drawing from a prewar military age population of 15,000 souls. What the state lacked in manpower, another living, breathing, moveable force certainly made up for it.


In the 1860 census, approximately 388,060 head of cattle grazed in the state in what some referred to as the “last great frontier east of the Mississippi River.” Although the cattle tended to be smaller in size, the harsh, humid climate had endured the beasts with the ability to ward off common diseases, especially ones borne from the dreaded tick. Usually weighing in at 600 pounds, half of that, or 300 pounds of beef could be cut for consumption.

Yet, until the fall of Vicksburg, Mississippi in July 1863, the Confederate government had seemingly forgotten about this valuable commodity in the deep, deep South. Out of desperation, the Confederate government turned toward Florida, splitting the state into five commissary districts and requesting 3,000 head of cattle per week. Under the overall control of Major Pleasant W. White, his first name ironic, the native of Quincy, Florida tried his best to stick to the 1,000 head of cattle moving north per week quota.

As desperation for foodstuffs mounted in the Confederacy, cattle were driven north as quick as possible, but never enough to meet the needs of soldiers serving the two principle armies; the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of Tennessee, along with garrisons at places like Charleston, South Carolina. Furthermore, pasture and fodder along the path north out of Florida also dwindled precipitously which greatly reduced the size of cattle as they reached the war front. In early 1864, all available pork and bacon was ordered by the Confederate government to be shipped north.

All this movement did not go unnoticed by the Federals. The reason for the climatic and largest land battle in Florida, at Olustee on February 20, 1864 was an effort to cut off this supply route. Along with quick strikes by Federal troops and cavalry stationed along the coasts, at places like Fort Myers, the movement that culminated at Olustee exacerbated the need to protect the cattle herds and the drivers that were moving the thinning herds north. Prey already to Confederate deserters, rising animosity toward the war effort, hesitancy on cattle owners to sell for Confederate promissory notes, also threatened to stem the tide. Something had to be done.


Historical Marker for the John T. Lesley Home, Tampa, FL (author collection)

To protect this vital supply line, companies of cavalry, eventually numbering nine in total were raised. Officially organized as the 1st Battalion Florida Special Cavalry, Company B was raised by Captain John T. Lesley, in the area of Ichepuckassaa, Florida, to the east of Tampa, in Hillsborough County. Lesley, had joined the Confederate war effort early, being in the first company from Tampa to leave for the front and rose to the rank of major while serving the cause in Tennessee. He returned to Florida in 1863 where he was entrusted to raise the aforementioned company.

Comprised mostly of men that were on either end of the spectrum of military age; either too young or two old to fight, they served the Confederate war effort by joining what would be referred to as the “Cow Cavalry.” Eventually, approximately 900 men enlisted in the 1st Battalion Florida Special Cavalry.


Grave of John T. Lesley. “He was a part of Tampa, and a big part, from the city’s infancy … His death marks the breaking of the final link that service the past and its traditions from the present and its hopes, and many tears have been shed because of the breaking of the bond.” Tampa Daily Times after his death on July 13, 1913

Their job was to assist in driving the herds north and also protecting the herds from the multitude of threats along the way. They were successful in delivering cattle to Confederate troops stationed in Charleston and Savannah, Georgia. Their efforts helped stave off defeat, given that when efforts were ramped up in spring 1863 in South Florida, the commissary in Atlanta was reporting at the same juncture the abysmally low-number of 4,000 cattle available for consumption in his possession!

A mundane task, but for one central Florida town, a task worthy of a small granite monument, and a legacy of providing the most essential weapon for a soldier; food.


“Cow Cavalry” Monument Plant City, FL (author collection)



*Sources used*


Florida’s Civil War, Terrible Sacrifices by Tracy J. Revels

-Search “Cow Cavalry”




Year In Review 2017: #8

Emerging Civil War’s editor-in-chief shared his thoughts about the Confederate monuments discussion in the series A Monumental Discussion. His observations and conclusions provided helpful insights to many readers and ranked this post #8 in ECW’s most-read posts of 2017.

A round of applause for #8: A Monumental Discussion: Chris Mackowski, published on August 19, 2017.

Year In Review 2017: #9

Reflecting some of the historical controversies in 2017 and the discussion of monuments, our ninth most-read blog post of 2017 was written by a guest author. He shared about monuments in New Orleans and how that city faces the challenges of race, memory, and an ever-growing tourism industry.

Presenting as blog post #9 of the year: Race, Remembrance, and Tourism in New Orleans by guest author Sean M. Chick, posted on May 1, 2017.

A Message from the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust

This week in our Preservation News we share with you a message from Tom Van Winkle, President of the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust. The CVBT works tirelessly to preserve and interpret battlefields in Central Virginia. If you have not already given your support to the CVBT you can become a member by clicking here. While you are there, explore their website and learn about the great work CVBT has done over the years and continues to do today, as well as how you can get involved.

“Message from the President”

It seems as only yesterday I penned the end of year message for CVBT. It was our twentieth anniversary then, and now we are poised to enter our twenty second year of preserving our nation’s Civil War battlefields in 2018.

To date the CVBT has effectively saved over 1,200 acres of battlefields that would most certainly become strip malls and fast food franchises. The Civil War battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness and Spotsylvania Courthouse left over 100,000 casualties in their wake, and those soldiers, as well as civilians, cry out to have their stories told and to not be forgotten.

CVBT has worked aggressively with developers this past year and effected changes in those projects that have mitigated the destruction of key battlefield areas. These parcels were not able to be purchased for any reasonable amount by us or our partners. In January CVBT closed on another important section of the Chancellorsville battlefield now known as the “Kinney Tract”. We then reclaimed the battlefield by demolishing a structurally unsound house and capped the well. In 2013 CVBT did much the same when
we purchased and demolished another long-standing battlefield eyesore just a few yards away, thesouvenir complex known as “the Castle”. Both of these properties a crucial part of “Stonewall” Jackson’s flank attack.

2017 saw a visit to our CVBT office by U.S. Congressman Rob Whittman to thank us for our hard work and to pledge his support. CVBT’s Government Relations Director, Jack Blalock, has begun working with state and local politicians and county supervisors cultivating relationships as well as conveying the importance and positive results of saving our battlefields.

Being able to preserve battlefields not only pays homage to the fallen Americans who fought on them, but it also creates green spaces and draws tourists to bolster the area’s economy. We are rapidly losing those open areas where we, as humans, may slow down and take in the natural surroundings. Our local economies benefit greatly from preserving our Civil War battlefields as well. Visitors stay longer and spend more in these historical areas. The Fredericksburg area has a unique opportunity to attract these tourists yet many of our county supervisors do not seem to see this and still follow the, “If you build it
they will come”, attitude. This is where CVBT works to change this perception locally.

In this addition of SkirmishLine you will read about Elizabeth Heffernan, CVBT’s newly hired Executive Director. Elizabeth comes to CVBT with a wealth of marketing, membership and organizational management experience. Elizabeth also is a powerhouse of energy and ideas. We look forward to a bright future with Elizabeth at the helm.
Elizabeth’s assistant, Travis Wakeman, continues to move CVBT ahead in the social media world with Facebook, custom CVBT videos and more.

One of our newest board members, Paul Scott, former president of the Civil War Round Table of Fredericksburg, is creating a new membership platform inclusive of levels that will better recognize all our members and our long time and high performing supporters as well.

With new CVBT social media outreach, government relations, membership program and Executive Director, as well as more preserved battlefield land, 2017 has proved to be a year of progress.

With several major battlefield preservation land projects in the works currently, CVBT looks forward to be able to announce some great “saves” in 2018.

All of us, and that includes all of you, our preservation partners, should be proud of what we have and still accomplish.

Also, don’t forget the dates of our annual meeting, dinner, and tours for 2018, this year’s theme “Beyond Spotsylvania”. April 20th through the 22nd will be packed with great tours, and dinner with Bob Zeller presenting a 3D Civil War photo program you can’t miss!

Tom Van Winkle
Central Virginia Battlefields Trust