SPOTSYLVANIA, VA., AUG. 2 -- Hamilton's Thicket in the Wilderness Battlefield area is the first site the Department of Interior hopes to protect as part of its recently announced battlefield preservation initiative, Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan Jr. said.

"We want to put this together as quickly as we can, so we can move on to our next one," Lujan said after a tour of the area. He said that next on the National Park Service's list is Brandy Station in Culpeper County, Va.

Hamilton's Thicket is part of Fawn Lake, a 2,800-acre residential community being developed by NTS Residential Property Inc., based in Louisville. Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs is a partner in the project.

Preservationists and the Park Service have been negotiating with the developer of Fawn Lake for purchase of the 450-acre Hamilton's Thicket site in Spotsylvania County. It was the scene of heavy fighting and many casualties during the May 1864 battle at the Wilderness.

Lujan said the federal government would be unable to buy Hamilton's Thicket, but could encourage purchase of the land by others. "We have a developer willing to work out something. Our job is to figure out what that something is," Lujan said. "We can't put up the money."