Race to save Civil War battlefields with Black, Latino legacy

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Why it matters: The move to reintroduce Black and Latino heroes of the Civil War comes as a federal commission seeks to change Army bases named after former Confederates and as cities remove monuments honoring Confederate figures.

Details: The American Battlefield Trust is working with the state of Virginia to secure land at the site of the Battle of New Market Heights.

  • Thousands of Black U.S. soldiers took part in that grisly fight against the Confederacy.
  • Because of their actions that forced the Confederacy to retreat, 14 Black U.S. soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor.
  • For years, the site sat in obscurity with little attention, unlike sites like the Battle of Gettysburg.

The intrigue: The Battle of Gettysburg is also the site where the first Hispanic soldier, Corporal Joseph De Castro, the son of a Spanish immigrant, was awarded the Medal of Honor.

  • The Battle of Glorieta Pass in New Mexico is the site where Mexican American U.S. soldiers defeated the Confederacy in the West, ending all efforts to capture California and the American Southwest for slavery.
  • Preservation activists want plaques and tours created to tell these largely unknown stories of Black and Latino soldiers in the Civil War.

What they're saying: "We're working to preserve battlefields, not only because of the historic preservation but also because of the benefits for business, economic development, and the environment," Democratic Virginia state Delegate Alfonso Lopez told Axios.

  • Lopez said it was important for the U.S. to know the untold story of Black, Puerto Rican and Cuban U.S. soldiers in the Civil War as the nation reexamines its past.
  • Lopez is working with Virginia state Delegate Lamont Bagby on preserving the site of the Battle of New Market Heights.

Don't forget: Black and Latino members of Congress want Army bases named after former Confederates to be remained after Black and Latino soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor.

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