As we recently reported, 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. This week, the National Coalition for History joined a Wilderness Battlefield Coalition that has been formed to fight the development.
The Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, formed by the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) also includes 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 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.
For more information on the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition and to learn how you can get involved in their efforts to oppose the Wal-Mart project, visit the CWPT website at http://www.civilwar.org/walmart08/