Historians and conservationists have united in Virginia against a common foe: Walmart, which wants to build a 38,000-square-foot Supercenter near near Wilderness Battlefield, a Civil War site and National Park. The groups filed a suit on Wednesday charging local officials with brushing aside concerns about the site when they approved Walmart’s plans in August.
Historians consider the Battle of the Wilderness, fought on the Locust Grove, VA, site in 1864, a key turning point in the Civil War. “A nationally significant and highly vulnerable historic site is at great risk,” said Zann Nelson, head of Friends of Wilderness Battlefield. Supporters of the move to block Walmart include actor Robert Duvall, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and filmmaker Ken Burns.
Walmart stated that the case has “no merit or basis in fact,” pointing out that the store will not be visible from the battlefield site, and that the location is zoned for commercial use. The planned store location is less than half a mile from trenches where Union soldiers dug in during the Battle of the Wilderness, though we hope preservationists avoid the temptation to stage a reenactment as part of their new battle.