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A new campaign for Slaughter Pen
Civil War battlefield preservation groups are working to come up with money to buy a farm where the Battle of Fredericksburg once raged.

 Local preservationists have pledged $1 million toward the $12 million purchase price for the Pierson farm on Tidewater Trail, which was known as Slaughter Pen during the 1862 battle.
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Date published: 6/3/2006

By RUSTY DENNEN

The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust has made a major financial commitment in the effort to purchase a Spotsylvania County farm that played a key role in the Battle of Fredericksburg.

The local preservation group that has saved hundreds of acres of important Civil War land here over the past decade has pledged $1 million toward the $12 million purchase price, said Mike Stevens, CVBT president.

In March, the Washington-based Civil War Preservation Trust announced that it would launch a national fundraising campaign to purchase the 205-acre Pierson farm. The land, known during the war as Slaughter Pen, is on Tidewater Trail just east of Shannon Airport.

"I don't think there's ever been a bigger thing than this, though there have been many other things we've been involved with," Stevens said in a recent interview.

"This is going to get our focus and our attention. It's important to show local folks that we are serious and willing to stand up and commit."

Until now, the highest price CVBT has paid for any piece of property was about $450,000.

"This is more than 50 percent higher, but it's worth it," Stevens said.

Tricord Cos. signed a contract in February to purchase the tract, agreeing to sign it over to CWPT at cost. Closing is expected around mid-June.

Tricord, a local homebuilder that has been involved in the preservation of other battlefield land, found out in December that Slaughter Pen was for sale and contacted preservation groups.

"We've been working on this for years," Stevens said. "Once or twice, we were close to having something done," but the landowner, whose heir ultimately offered the property for sale after his death, wouldn't commit.

"We kept the pot boiling to keep preservationists' eyes on the property," Stevens said, and when it came on the market, CWPT, with its deeper pockets and national reach, was able to work with Tricord.

The CWPT has about 75,000 members nationwide; CVBT has about 800.

"We're finding an enormous amount of enthusiasm on the part of groups and individuals to participate on this and CVBT is the best example," said Jim Campi, spokesman for CWPT.


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