U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell yesterday announced her approval of the expansion of the Balls Bluff Battlefield National Historic Landmark near Leesburg.
The expansion is significant. It increases the battlefield landmark from 76 acres to more than 3,300 acres on both sides of the Potomac River and includes Harrison Island.
The news was especially welcomed by the Loudoun County Heritage Commission, which initiated the project five years ago. Prominent in the effort were former Chairman Bill Wilkin, aided by members Mitch Diamond, Lori Kimball, Childs Burden, former member W. Brown Morton III, advisor Jim Morgan and Loudoun County Preservation Planner Heidi Siebentritt.
Wilkin sent a congratulatory email to Diamond, Kimball and Siebentritt, offering special thanks to “our brave subcommittee and our great contractors.”
The commission’s intent was to recognize the historic and scenic land along Edwards Ferry Road and the Potomac River shores near Leesburg. The expanded boundaries also include sites of other military operations and staging areas involved with the Oct. 21, 1861 battle. On the Maryland side, there were locations from which artillery bombardments were fired across the river. And on the Virginia side, the expansion now includes Fort Evans, where Confederates were fighting.
The Heritage Commission obtained a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program to hire consultants, led by Rivanna Associates of Charlottesville, for the project. Diamond also cited the work of Siebentritt, who served as manager of the consulting team and led the project through producing the report, the development of carefully defined boundaries for the expanded area, multiple levels of review and approval by federal officials, as well as multiple meetings and communications with affected landowners and organizations. Diamond thanked the many organizations and individuals who provided support for the project as it moved though the lengthy and complex approval process.
The Balls Bluff expansion was included in Jewell’s announcement of the designation of 24 new National Historic Landmarks.
The landmarks program recognizes historic properties of exceptional value to the nation and promotes the preservation efforts of federal, state and local agencies and Native American tribes as well as those of private organizations and individuals.