Civil War sites face battle for survival

America has no more than 20 years before the last of the unprotected but critical Civil War battlefields are “preserved or paved over,” the president of the Civil War Preservation Trust said Thursday.

Revealing a list of the 10 most-endangered battlefields at a news conference with country musician Darryl Worley, trust president O. James Lighthizer called the hallowed acreage “outdoor classrooms” under serious threat of development.

Although the trust has had success in preserving more than 18,000 acres of critical battlefields, including parts of Shiloh in Tennessee, Iuka and Corinth in Mississippi and Antietam in Maryland, important tracts are in imminent danger of being lost, Lighthizer said.

The ten most important right now, he said, are:

  • Franklin, Tenn.
  • Morris Island, S.C.
  • Manassas, Va.
  • Bermuda Hundred, Va.
  • Kennesaw Mountain, Ga.
  • Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Mansfield, La.
  • Raymond, Miss.
  • Spotsylvania County, Va.
  • Wilson’s Creek, Mo.

History Channel vice president and historian Libby O’Donnell spelled out the specific development threat to several of the battlefields, including Morris Island, where members of the black 54th Massachusetts Regiment fought during the siege of Charleston.

She said a developer has offered the island for sale on e-Bay so that, “in addition to gently used Prada bags … an irreplaceable landmark of black history is now up for grabs.”

Worley, who sang of Shiloh on his 2003 album “Have You Forgotten?” told the news gathering Thursday of standing on his back porch near Savannah, Tenn., and feeling the rumble of Civil War cannons fired by re-enactors at Shiloh, across the Tennessee River.

Worley added, “I’ll be glad to help you guys standing guard over history.”

(E-mail Bartholomew Sullivan at SullivanB(at)