Walmart Retreats From Wilderness Civil War Battlefield

In an unexpected development, Walmart announced on January 26 that it was abandoning plans to pursue a special use permit previously awarded to the retail giant for construction of a supercenter on the Wilderness Battlefield in Virginia. The decision came as the trial in a legal challenge seeking to overturn the special use permit was scheduled to begin in Orange County circuit court.

The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–6, 1864, was one of the most significant engagements of the American Civil War.

The National Coalition for History (NCH) is a member of the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, an alliance of local residents and national groups seeking to protect the Wilderness battlefield. Collaborating with the Civil War Trust, NCH organized more than 250 American historians, led by Pulitzer Prize-winners James McPherson and David McCullough, in opposition to Walmart’s proposed construction plans.

In addition to NCH, the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, is composed of the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, Piedmont Environmental Council, Preservation Virginia, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Parks Conservation Association, and Civil War Trust.

“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. The Civil War Trust is a member of the National Coalition for History (NCH). “We have long believed that Walmart would ultimately recognize that it is in the best interests of all concerned to move their intended store

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away from the battlefield. We applaud Walmart officials for putting the interests of historic preservation first.”

In August 2009, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a controversial special use permit to allow construction

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of the Walmart Supercenter and associated commercial development on the Wilderness Battlefield. A wide range of prominent individuals and organizations publicly opposed the store’s location, including. 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.

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