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Trust celebrates donations, preservation in 2009

Last year was a very good one for the Civil War Preservation Trust, which recorded 8% higher donations than in 2008, even as the economy continued to falter and some other non-profits struggled to stay open. The Trust also announced a near-record amount of battlefield preservation for the year, with 2,777 acres saved from development.

Trust president Jim Lighthizer said in an interview that the big push to raise more than $500,000 by Dec. 31 to close the deal on the $1.525 million "Jackson Flank Attack" property on the Chancellorsville battlefield in Virginia was successful. "It was right down to the wire," he said.

The Jackson property is an 80-acre tract where Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson made his famous 12-mile, night-time march around the Army of the Potomac, which led to a successful, surprise attack at dawn on Union troops. Although a part of the
Wilderness Battlefield, it had been privately owned and was outside federal park boundaries.

Lighthizer said the troubled economy meant no raises and no new hires for his organization. It also meant every expense had to be justified at a monthly staff meeting where the current budget was discussed. "We were really scrambling." he said. "The recession made us better, meaner and smarter."

The Trust, the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the country with 55,000 members, also reported land purchases in 2009 at 20 battlefields in four other states including Florida, Minnesota, Mississippi and Tennessee.

By Linda Wheeler  |  January 10, 2010; 12:17 PM ET
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