Virginia state officials will hold a hearing tonight on local preservationists' request to designate the Bristoe Station battlefield a state and national landmark.

The Catharpin-based Save the Battlefield Coalition this summer renominated the 1,162-acre battlefield, where more than 1,900 Civil War soldiers were killed or wounded on Oct. 14, 1863, for the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmark Register.

Prince William County submitted an application for the battlefield, which is in the hands of several private landowners, in 1988. But some landowners objected strenuously at a public hearing, so the state opted not to follow the process through.

The same landowners, who fear a historic designation will make it impossible to sell or develop their land, already have begun writing and calling the state Department of Historic Resources about the current nomination, said Julie Vosmik, survey and register programs manager for the state.

Several area landowners, including members of the Rollins family that owns much of the battlefield land, would not comment on the nomination.

Listing a place on the state or national register does not place legal restrictions on a landowner's use of the property, Vosmik said. But some landowners are concerned that the designation could eventually lead to zoning restrictions on their property.

Located at Linton Hall Road, Bristow Road and the Southern Railway, Bristoe Station is one of two Civil War battlefields in Prince William County. County activists founded Save the Battlefield in 1988 to fight plans to build a mall on a section of the Manassas battlefield.

Preservationists view the designation as a weapon in their battle to protect Civil War sites from destruction. In Culpeper County, for example, the Brandy Station battlefield has been named a Virginia landmark, even though much of it is slated for an industrial park.

Save the Battlefield members submitted the application for Bristoe Station because the battlefield was not included as a "cultural resource" area in the proposed revisions to the county's comprehensive land use plan.

The citizens working on the plan said they omitted the land, which includes Confederate soldiers' graves, because it wasn't a designated landmark, said Jan Townsend, Prince William County's cultural resources coordinator.

The governors of Alabama and North Carolina, the home states of many of the buried soldiers, have expressed their concern about the graves in letters to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Prince William County hasn't decided what its position on the battlefield will be, but plans to file a response by Tuesday, said John Scofield, assistant to the county executive.

The Prince William Architectural Review Board, a citizen panel, has already voted unanimously to support the historic designation.

Two state panels will vote on the issue Oct. 16. "It is going to be split," Vosmik said. "I wouldn't want to predict {the outcome}. It could go either way."

The National Register requires a majority of the landowners to support the nomination of any property, but the state register does not, Vosmik said.