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Conservation Stories

Since its inception in 1990, ASA has helped landowners protect a variety of working lands throughout Washington and Rensselaer counties.
Fort Ann Battlefield

A VICTORY FOR HISTORIANS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

Civil War Trust donates an easement at Fort Ann Battlefield  

160 ACRES conserved IN THE TOWN OF FORT ANN

Sometimes it takes an army to protect our important lands. In this case, ASA, the Town of Fort Ann, the Civil War Trust, the Fort Ann American Legion, the Fort Ann Historical Society, the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and Big Boy Construction teamed up in what can be considered a victory for historians and conservationists alike. The Civil War Trust, which primarily works to protect Civil War sites, recently began preserving Revolutionary War sites. It purchased the 160-acre Fort Ann Battlefield property from Big Boy Construction. The company, owned by Gino Vona, planned to mine granite and topsoil from the land, but needed state permission to do so.

Archeological surveys revealed that most of the fighting in the Battle of Fort Anne took place at Battle Hill. Mining it would threaten the historic nature of the battlefield. "It was important to the Town of Fort Ann to preserve this site. The Fort Ann American Legion, especially Christine Milligan, and Historical Society worked hard for many years to make this acquisition come to fruition," said Richard Moore, Town of Fort Ann Supervisor. "Also, it should be noted, the acquisition only happened because of Gino Vona's willingness to sell the property."

After purchasing the property, the Civil War Trust donated a conservation easement to ASA and transferred ownership of the property to the Town of Fort Ann. Fort Ann is the first municipality in ASA's history to be an ASA easement owner. The Civil War Trust plans to help the Town obtain future grants for public access and stewardship of the property. The land will stay forested allowing for forestry management and woodland products plus recreational and educational use. 

Prior to the Battle of Fort Anne, British General John Burgoyne had quick and easy success in his campaign to divide the New England colonies from the remaining colonies in an attempt to end the Revolution. In early July 1777, the American troops spent two days fleeing the British in Fort Ticonderoga. The main Continental Army at Fort Ticonderoga went east towards Hubbardton, and a small group of injured Continental troops, women, and their military escort traveled south along Lake Champlain towards Fort Anne.

On July 7 and 8, 1777, a mixed group of soldiers from the Continental Army and the Albany Militia fought a heavy engagement against the British Army's 9th Regiment of Foot on Battle Hill north of Fort Anne. At the end of the two-day battle, the Americans retreated to Fort Edward. However, according to some historians, the Battle of Fort Anne delayed the British and invigorated the Americans, thereby helping to win at the critical Battle of Saratoga in the fall of 1777.

The actual battlefield terrain had a significant influence on travel, tactics, and outcomes at Battle Hill as the steep wooded area both aided and hindered British and American troops. Appreciating the landscape is essential for understanding the battle of Fort Anne. It is also noteworthy that this battlefield is one of the few untouched Revolutionary War battle sites. 

Battle Hill falls within ASA's mission as it can be used as productive forest land without altering its historic integrity. ASA, as the holder of the conservation easement, is proud to serve as the guardian of this historic site for future generations of Americans.

Funding to help acquire the property was awarded to the Town of Fort Ann through a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program Battlefield Land Acquisition grant (a program through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund). 

"The preservation opportunity at Fort Anne is exactly why the Civil War Trust created Campaign 1776, our national initiative to protect battlefields of the Revolution and War of 1812. We are proud to partner with ASA and the Town of Fort Ann to save this picturesque and historic significant New York battleground." – Clint Schemmer, Civil War Trust

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