Evoking memories of the Walt Disney Company’s efforts to build a theme park near the Manassas Battlefield in the early 90s, the Civil War Preservation Trust has alerted its members that Wal-Mart, Stores, Inc., is planning to build a 145,000-square-foot “Wal-Mart Supercenter” in Orange County, Virginia, a quarter-mile from the Wilderness Battlefield National Park.
A Wilderness Battlefield Coalition has been formed to fight the development consisting of the Civil War Preservation Trust, Piedmont Environmental Council, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Parks Conservation Association, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, and Friends of the Fredericksburg Area Battlefields. The Wilderness Coalition argues that the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter would lead to more traffic, sprawl and destructive development in the area surrounding the battlefield.
The Wilderness saw more than 180,000 troops engaged in a two-day battle that left 18,000 Union and 10,000 Confederate troops killed, wounded or captured. The battle also marked the first showdown between generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant.
Today more than 2,773 acres of the Wilderness Battlefield are preserved as part of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. The Wal-Mart is proposed for a 55-acre parcel in Orange County, north of the intersection of Route 3 and Route 20 directly across the road from the battlefield. Although the Wal-Mart store would not be built within the congressionally authorized boundary of the Wilderness Battlefield, it is within the historic limits of the battlefield.
The Wilderness Battlefield was determined to be one of the most historically significant battlegrounds in the nation by a blue ribbon panel created by Congress in 1990. In an exhaustive 1993 report, the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission (CWSAC) identified Wilderness as a Priority I, Class A site, its highest designation. The commission identified the 55-acre parcel where Wal-Mart wants to build its store as part of the Wilderness Battlefield.
According to CWPT spokesman Jim Campi, “This Wilderness Wal-Mart proposal is the wrong project, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. With four other Wal-Mart stores located less than 20 miles from the Wilderness Battlefield, it is hard to argue there is even a need for such a facility at this location. But what is not in question is that a Wal-Mart Supercenter is entirely inappropriate next to a hallowed battlefield park.”
For more information on how you can get involved in th efforts to oppose the Wal-Mart project, visit the Civil War Preservation Trust website by clicking here.