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!