As many of you are probably aware, one of our greatest Civil War battlefields is under siege. Wal-Mart is planning on building a 141,000 square foot Wal-Mart Super Center adjacent to the Chancellorsville and Wilderness National Battlefield Park. This area has come under severe stress over the past several years, as development has continually spread towards the park. Additionally, this has brought heavy traffic to the battlefield park – traffic that is unrelated to tourist activities. Wal-Mart, and the Orange County Board of Supervisors, have seemed to turn a deaf ear to all the preservationist activities spear-headed by the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT), and the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition. The time to act is NOW. In a recent email “call to action,” by the CWPT’s Brent Laurenz many suggestions were offered to help derail the Wilderness Wal-Mart. Here are some of his suggestions.
- Attend public hearings: If you live in or near Orange County, please consider attending the public hearings. The first public hearing is before the Planning Commission on Thursday, May 21, at 7:00 at Prospect Heights Middle School, 202 Dailey Drive, Orange, VA 22960.
Click here for a map of the public hearing location.
- Write to the Board of Supervisors: If you can’t make the hearing, please consider writing a letter to the Orange County Board of Supervisors even if you have written them before, please take a minute to do so again. Orange County’s elected officials need to know where people stand on this issue. Let them hear your personal frustration that they rejected a planning process that would have benefited all parties.
Click here to send a letter to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
- Write to your local newspaper: The construction of a Wal-Mart on the doorstep of a National Park is an issue of national importance, so even if you live in another state, please consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper expressing your opposition to the proposed Wal-Mart. Add your voice to others who have expressed concern about a big box superstore across the road from a National Park
Click here to find a list of newspapers in your area.
Please be sure to check your local paper for policies regarding Letters to the Editor.
Opinion: Wal-Mart’s Attack on Civil War Battlefield in Northern Virginia
By John Aloysius Farrell
US News & World Report (NAT)
The Wilderness battlefield cannot be moved.
It is a one-of-a-kind place, where tens of thousands of Union and Confederate boys died in the Civil War. You can’t just shift the signs down the road a mile and call another tract of ground the battlefield.
But a Wal-Mart shopping center? How special is that?
Assuming that what America needs is another Wal-Mart, how hard can it be for corporate planners to choose a location that isn’t within the boundaries of a national battle park?
These are the questions being asked by historians, legislators, and preservationists as Wal-Mart plans to build a 138,000-square-foot supercenter on the Wilderness battlefield in Northern Virginia. It would be the fifth Wal-Mart store within a 20-mile radius and a major new commercial threat to a necklace of Civil War fields—Wilderness, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania—in the area that have already been ravaged by development.
In December, a group of 253 historians—including David McCullough, Ken Burns, James McPherson, and Edwin Bearss, the chief historian emeritus of the National Park Service—asked Wal-Mart to reconsider.
The Vermont Legislature (the state lost its heaviest casualties of the war at the Wilderness, repulsing a Confederate attack) adopted a joint resolution in February asking Wal-Mart to move its store.
U.S. Reps. Peter Welch, a Vermont Democrat, and Ted Poe, a Texas Republican, have led a contingent in Congress urging Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke to think this through.
And the Civil War Preservation Trust put the Wilderness battlefield on its list of “most threatened” battlefields in March.
The land that Wal-Mart covets is commercially zoned, but the company needs a special use permit from the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and preservationists are hoping to block the development there. A coalition of local and national preservation groups have offered to pay for a comprehensive, long-range planning study to help local officials.
All they need is a little flexibility from Wal-Mart. How about it, Mr. Duke?
Please support the Civil War Preservation Trust’s efforts to Stop The Wilderness Wal-Mart. Click here, to see what actor, Robert Duvall, and congressmen are saying in support of these efforts. Act now. Once the Wal-Mart is built, other development will inevitably follow.
Thank you in advance for supporting our Civil War history by getting involved.
This Mighty Scourge – The Civil War Blog