On August 25, the Orange County, Virginia Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to grant a special permit to Walmart to build a 138,000 sq. ft.“Supercenter” store ¼ mile from the Wilderness Civil War Battlefield. For nearly a year historians and preservationists had opposed granting Walmart permission to build within the historic boundaries of the battlefield.
Despite the vote, the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition sent a letter to Walmart CEO Michael Duke urging the company to reconsider and build at an alternate location in Orange County. The Wilderness Battlefield Coalition is a group of national, statewide and local preservation, conservation and civic organizations devoted to preserving the Battlefield. The National Coalition for History is a member of the Wilderness Coalition and was instrumental in organizing opposition to Walmart’s plan among the historical community.
Opponents have argued the Walmart store will draw traffic and more sprawl to the area surrounding the battlefield. The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–6, 1864, was among the most significant engagements of the American Civil War and marked the first time legendary generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant faced off against one another in battle. Nearly 29,000 American soldiers were killed, wounded or captured in the horrendous, two-day struggle.