FREDERICKSBURG, VA. -- A preservation group has acquired a Civil War battlefield in Highland County where Gen. Stonewall Jackson began his Shenandoah Valley campaign in the spring of 1862.

The Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites recently obtained 135 acres of the McDowell battlefield.

The battlefield may eventually figure into expansion plans for the National Park Service. Congress is studying the McDowell site and nine other Civil War battlefields in the Shenandoah Valley for possible inclusion in the national park system.

The McDowell site is among 25 battlefields targeted by Secretary of Interior Manuel Lujan for protection.

The association paid $64,000 for 126 acres in an area known as Sitlington's Hill. It also received nine acres of preservation easements.

With the purchase and easements, preservationists now own most of the McDowell battlefield. Another part of it is owned by the Lee-Jackson Foundation in Charlottesville.

The Battle of McDowell was fought by 10,000 Confederate and 6,000 Union troops on May 8, 1862. The South lost nearly 500 men in the battle but succeeded in driving the Union army back into West Virginia.

The triumph was the first in a string of victories in the Shenandoah Valley for Jackson.

The acquisition is the largest ever for the association, which was founded three years ago after preservationists lost a bid to save the Chantilly battlefield in Northern Virginia from development.