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Richmond Civil War site among 'most endangered' battlefields

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Southwestern desert peak where cavalry
clashed nearly 150 years ago has joined an annual list of the
nation's most endangered Civil War battlefields because state
budget cuts are set to close the park that marks the site.
Picacho Peak in Arizona, the Western frontier in the battle
between the North and the South, was named for the first time on
the Civil War Preservation Trust's annual list of 10 historic
battlefields most threatened by development or neglect. The list
was released Thursday in Washington, D.C.
In addition to Pennsylvania's Gettysburg and the Wilderness
Battlefield in Virginia, the list includes some memorable battles
waged in states where the Civil War still resonates on the eve of
its 150th anniversary. They are located primarily in the South and
the Mid-Atlantic.
For sheer distance, Picacho Peak stands apart from the rest. The
state park is slated to close June 3 because of budget cuts.
On April 12, 1862, Lt. James Barrett led a detachment of Union
cavalry to the rocky spire 50 miles northwest of Tucson and
skirmished with Confederate Rangers, intent on blunting an
ocean-to-ocean Confederacy. While Barrett was killed and the Union
army retreated, Union forces from California eventually moved on to
Tucson and snuffed a Confederate settlement.
The battle, while a footnote in Civil War history, still
attracts annual visits by re-enactors.
"A lot of people who come from the East use it as a vacation,"
Ellen Bilbrey, a spokeswoman for Arizona State Parks, said of the
Civil War re-enactors.
A fund drive launched in nearby Eloy, Ariz., is attempting to
keep the park open, and the inclusion by the trust in its annual
endangered list is a boost to that effort, she said.
"Any attention, of course is going to assist people who are
trying to keep that park open," she said.
The Arizona State Parks Board next week will consider an
agreement that would keep Picacho Peak open for at least a year.
Under the agreement, the city of Eloy would pay $20,000 to
subsidize the operation and maintenance of the park.
The board has adopted a number of similar agreements to keep
open historical and recreational parks across Arizona.
Called "History Under Siege," the most-endangered list is
intended to highlight threats to what the trust calls "tangible
links to our shared history." With the nation about to mark 150
years since the start of the Civil War, the 2010 installment was
released with the support of Jeff Shaara, a member of the trust's
board and author of "Gods and Generals," among other books on the
Civil War.
"Nothing creates an emotional connection between present and
past like walking in the footsteps of our Civil War soldiers,"
Shaara said in remarks prepared for the formal release of the list.
His father, Michael Shaara, wrote "The Killer Angels," a
historical novel on Gettysburg. The battlefield where 160,000 Union
and Confederate soldiers fought in the summer of 1863 is on the
endangered list because of a second attempt to bring casino
gambling within one-half-mile of Gettysburg National Military Park.
Like Gettysburg, Virginia's Wilderness Battlefield was also
making a repeat appearance on the list. In this case, Wal-Mart
Stores Inc. is facing fierce resistance to building a Supercenter
within a cannon's shot of where Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant
first met on the field of battle.
The others in the top 10 and the threats, as defined by the
trust:
- Camp Allegheny, W.Va., where wind turbines on a high ridge
across the border in Virginia threaten to blot the view from the
battlefield.
- Pickett's Mill, Ga., which is amid cuts in public funding and,
last fall, saw foot bridges and portions of a mill damaged by flood
waters.
- Fort Stevens, Washington, D.C., threatened by a proposed
church community center that will tower over the fort where
President Lincoln was the target of sharpshooters.
- Cedar Creek, Va., a mine expansion that would chew up nearly
400 acres of battlefield.
- Richmond, Ky., a new highway interchange that will likely
attract commercial growth.
- South Mountain, Md., the feared development of an energy
plant.
- Thoroughfare Gap, Va., the possible construction of a 150-foot
communications tower.
Besides the 10 most-endangered list, the trust also included 15
"at risk" sites.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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