CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — Some 51 acres of land in Chesterfield County will now be protected thanks to a conservation easement recorded by the county and the Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC) in order to preserve the site of a key battle that took place there during the Civil War.
The conserved land will be added to the county’s adjacent 10-acre Ware Bottom Church Battlefield Park.
The parcel on Old Stage Road (VA Route 735) and Old Bermuda Hundred Road (VA Route 618) was recently purchased by the county with federal funding from the National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund – American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP), seller donation and assistance from the American Battlefield Trust. The additional park land will help bring greater awareness of the Battle of Ware Bottom Church and provide additional greenspace in a rapidly growing area of the county.
Protecting the property in perpetuity with a conservation easement and providing public access are requirements of the federal funding.
This easement is the final step towards Chesterfield County’s goal of protecting Ware Bottom Church Battlefield. The site and current park will promote awareness of the county’s history and attract cultural heritage tourism. It will also increase open space land for public access and climate resiliency in a community within a 10-minute walk of the property.
Chesterfield County Parks & Recreation’s conceptual plan to expand the park includes visitor amenities on the property, such as information kiosks, unpaved trails, a picnic or educational shelter, parking, and paved shared use path for cyclists and pedestrians along Old Stage and Old Bermuda Hundred Roads. Development plans will avoid site degradation, limit impervious surfaces, and promote historic resource and water quality protection. An archeological study has been completed for the development areas to confirm no impacts and inventory artifacts for historical interpretation.
“Chesterfield Parks and Recreation is pleased that this CRLC conservation easement protects the majority of the 61.7-acre Ware Bottom Battlefield Park,” said Stuart Connock, assistant director of parks and recreation. “In the near future this newly conserved parkland will include just over one mile of unpaved trail featuring views of the Civil War earthworks. This Park is important as a destination historical site, as a part of the Bermuda Campaign of 1864, and an open space asset within the Bermuda Magisterial District.”
In addition to the historic resources protected by the conservation easement, other conservation values included in the easement are nearly 40 acres of forests and 51 acres of prime farmland.
Built in 1723, Ware Bottom Church was one of two colonial churches in Henrico County south of the James River that would be included in Dale Parish when it was founded in 1735 and subsequently Chesterfield County in 1749. In May 1864 after Union General Benjamin Butler landed 30,000 troops and seized Bermuda Hundred, Union troops built two miles of earthwork fortifications between the Appomattox and James Rivers. A series of battles commenced over the next few weeks with modest gains by Butler’s Army of the James until Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard attacked Butler’s advance picket lines on May 20 and pushed back the Union position. Immediately following the Battle of Ware Bottom Church the Confederate troops dug their own earthwork fortifications spanning three miles between the Appomattox and James Rivers known as the Howlett Line.
For more information on the Battle of Ware Bottom Church, visit ChesterfieldHistory.com.