Cedar Creek fundraiser nearing its goal

Posted: April 30, 2013

The Winchester Star

STRASBURG — The Shenandoah Valley Battlefield Foundation (SVBF) hopes to raise $182,000 by the end of June to preserve 174 acres of land that played a part in the pivotal Battle of Cedar Creek.

The Island Farm at Cedar Creek — located between Middletown and Strasburg in Shenandoah County — is the piece of land that Confederate Gen. Joseph Kershaw led his men over on their way to launch an early morning attack against Union forces on Oct. 19, 1864.

Kershaw’s forces were the middle lines of the Confederate assault, which routed the northern camp before Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan launched a counteroffensive against Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early. The eventual Union victory helped to drive Confederate forces from the Shenandoah Valley and secure Abraham Lincoln’s re-election less than a month later, according to SVBF Executive Director Denman Zirkle.

The New Market-based SVBF has raised $1.92 million of the required $2.1 million — or 91 percent — to purchase a conservation easement on the property. The easement would protect the land from development in perpetuity, Zirkle said Monday afternoon.

“Not only is the farm tract integral to the Cedar Creek Battlefield, it’s also key to the interpretation of the land on the southern end of the battlefield that has already been preserved,” he said.

“It fits right in like a hand in a glove in completing the protection of the southern end of the battlefield.”

While nobody currently lives on the land, the parcel is used for agriculture operations including cattle and fields of corn and grains, Zirkle added.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has classified 6.5 percent of the area as wetlands.

The land was approved for residential development in 2006 by the Strasburg Town Council, but council members elected in 2008 worked to preserve the property, according to a letter mailed by Zirkle last week.

The option to purchase an easement on the property will expire at the end of June.

Additional information on donating to the project is available by contacting the SVBF at 540-740-4545.

— Contact Matt Armstrong at marmstrong@winchesterstar.com