Historians Battle Wal-Mart Over Civil War Site

Local officials have approved new store location in northern Virginia
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 24, 2011 8:22 AM CST
A color engraving of scene of the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia on 6 May 1864.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Renowned historians and preservationists are primed to take on Wal-Mart in a legal battle over the placement of a new store: in a rural northern Virginia town next to the site of a key Civil War battle. Wal-Mart won approval for the location from a local board in 2009, but the National Trust for Historic Preservation challenged that decision, the AP reports. A judge will hear the case tomorrow—and the plaintiffs' attorney says he plans to call descendants of Union and Confederate soldiers to testify.

The store would be near the site of the Battle of the Wilderness, which was considered a major Civil War turning point. Wal-Mart says there are already stores near its proposed location, which is outside the limits of the protected national park where the core battlefield is located—but just a mile from the park's entrance. But the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a star-studded team including a Pulitzer winner and filmmaker Ken Burns are calling on Wal-Mart to change its mind: Wounded and dying Union soldiers, they say, occupied the site during the battle.

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