The American Battlefield Trust is accepting nominations for entries to be included in their report on the “most threatened battlefields on American soil,” according to a recent press release.
The final report, entitled “History Under Siege,” will include a “list of endangered historic sites” and analysis of national, state and local initiatives to protect these locations.
Reorganized in 2018, the American Battlefield Trust is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization comprised of the Civil War Trust, which was formed from older, regional preservation groups, and the Revolutionary War Trust. Its mission is to “preserve, educate and inspire” Americans through identifying and preserving historically important battlefields and heritage sites.
“Too often the threats to our priceless historical treasures go unnoticed,” said Trust President James Lighthizer in the release. “This report is a rallying cry to the nation, a powerful reminder that our most hallowed ground may still be in imminent danger.”
The trust has previously secured protection for over 52,000 acres in 24 states, preserved and restored Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s headquarters in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and created GPS-based apps to guide visitors at select sites.
The trust has previously issued reports on the state of battlefields throughout the country, but as the organization has expanded beyond its Civil War focus, officials desired to revive the project in “a more holistic way.”
“Now, having a broader umbrella [organization] and vision of what we are investigating will shed a better light on the various types of threats,” said Mary Koik, American Battlefield Trust spokesperson. “We are open to hearing from people about places that haven’t been on our radar yet. We really do want to hear from people about ‘Is there a French and Indian War battlefield in upstate New York that’s being threatened?’”
While many famous battlefields have garnered protection, others “are all but forgotten, ignored, and uncared for, despite their importance to the American story,” the release stated.
Such preservation victories include saving over 100 acres on Morris Island, South Carolina, where the 54th Massachusetts Infantry — a famous African American regiment — led an assault of Fort Wagner during the Civil War.
While officials were not able to speak about potential entries in the forthcoming report, they are seeking a “comprehensive list” to include a variety of battlefields, such as sites from the War of 1812 and other lesser known battles.
“We always strive to be a partnership organization, to find ways to work with state governments, the federal government,” Koik said. “We could not function without the [National Park Service’s] American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP), as well as matching grant programs.”
“Each day, priceless acres fall victim to development, succumbing to the backhoe and the bulldozer,” the release added, but Koik said that threats to heritage sites come in all forms — not only commercial development but also natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes.
Entries can be submitted online and must detail how the site is currently threatened. The “submission of relevant photographs, recent news stories and other supporting material” is encouraged, according to the release.
Nominations, which can include any battlefield on American soil, are due by March 1, 2020.
Dylan Gresik is a reporting intern for Military Times through Northwestern University's Journalism Residency program.