LOCUST GROVE, Va. — A Wal-Mart Supercenter is opening Wednesday miles from a site near a Civil War battlefield where the retail giant first proposed building, sparking a national outcry.
The Locust Grove Wal-Mart is along a rural section of Route 3, far from the Wilderness Battlefield.
Wal-mart Stores Inc. had initially settled on a site within a cannonball’s shot of the Wilderness, one of the most hallowed battlefields in the Civil War. It was where Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant first met on the field of battle in 1864.
An estimated 185,000 Union and Confederate troops fought over three days in the Wilderness, leaving 30,000 killed, injured or missing. The war ended 11 months later.
Amid protests from The Civil War Trust, notable historians and celebrities, Wal-Mart finally relented on its preferred Orange County location, deciding to move the store’s location farther away from the Wilderness. The store is now located near the Culpeper County line.
The decision was hailed by battlefield protectors, who called Wal-Mart’s decision an example of retailers working with preservationists to find common ground.
Civil War Trust President James Lighthizer said the decision “was proof positive that historic preservation and economic progress need not be mutually exclusive.”
“The position of the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition has always remained that through cooperation and planning, the needs of residents in a growing community can be met while still maintaining the historic fabric and character that make the area unique,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
As part of a settlement, Wal-Mart said it would preserve the property that was once destined to be a Supercenter.
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