The Site of the Battle of the Wilderness, Preserved

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has ended its plans to build a super­store on part of the site of the Civil War Bat­tle of the Wilder­ness (May 5–7, 1864) near Orange, Virginia.

In 2009, Wal-Mart received local approval to build the store, but a legal bat­tle ensued, and Wal-Mart announced today that it would build its store else­where. This is a major vic­tory for the Civil War Trust (until recently known as the Civil War Preser­va­tion Trust), a noted non-profit orga­ni­za­tion that has fought to pre­serve our dis­ap­pear­ing Civil War bat­tle site heritage.

This is an excel­lent sesqui­cen­ten­nial gift to all of us, and pre­serves a loca­tion where many geneal­o­gists and his­to­ri­ans can under­stand the turn­ing point of the Civil War. The site has intrin­sic, his­toric, and envi­ron­men­tal value far exceed­ing the eco­nomic value of yet another replace­able big box store. 180,000 men fought in the bat­tle, and there were over 30,000 casu­al­ties. This loca­tion must be treated with respect for the sac­ri­fices made.

The Civil War Trust posts the fol­low­ing com­ment:

We are pleased with Walmart’s deci­sion to aban­don plans to build a super­center on the Wilder­ness bat­tle­field,” remarked James Lighthizer, pres­i­dent of the Civil War Trust. “We have long believed that Wal­mart would ulti­mately rec­og­nize that it is in the best inter­ests of all con­cerned to move their intended store away from the bat­tle­field. We applaud Wal­mart offi­cials for putting the inter­ests of his­toric preser­va­tion first. Sam Wal­ton would be proud of this decision.”

They also note in their full account that:

A wide range of promi­nent indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions pub­licly opposed the store’s loca­tion, includ­ing more than 250 Amer­i­can his­to­ri­ans led by Pulitzer Prize-winners James McPher­son and David McCul­lough. One month after the deci­sion, a group of con­cerned cit­i­zens and the local Friends of Wilder­ness Bat­tle­field filed a legal chal­lenge to over­turn the decision.

We should all cel­e­brate this victory!

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