History Prevails in Va. Wal-Mart Fight

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    BRANDY STATION, VA - AUGUST 18: A cannon sits in front of the Visitor Center for the Brandy Station Battlefield, also known as the Graffiti House which served as a makeshift hospital during the Civil War, August 18, 2005 in Brandy Station, Virginia. Brandy Station was the location of the bloodiest cavalry fight in the Civil War history. Brandy Station lays within the "Journey Through Hallowed Ground" Corridor. The rapid growth of the Washington Metropolitan area in Northern Virginia is threatening the "Journey Through Hallowed Ground" Corridor, which encompasses a 175-mile-long stretch of land from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to Monticello, Virginia, with incompatible new developments (suburban sprawl) according to the recently released study by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in its annual list of America's most endangered historic places. The corridor has been recognized by national historians as the region that holds more American history than any other place in the country. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

    Wal-Mart has waved the white flag in its battle with preservationists.

    On Wednesday, the Arkansas-based retailer announced it was giving up plans for a new box store in northern Virginia, near the site of the 1864 Battle of the Wilderness.

    "We are giddy with the announcement," said Jim Campi, of the Civil War Trust, "very pleased."

    The Civil War Trust is a private group that has worked together with other preservation groups, including the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, to persuade Walmart to build its store elsewhere.

    In Orange County court Wednesday, a statement was heard from Wal-mart announcing the company's plan to abandon its plans for building a store near the battlefield.  The retailer said it would look for a site elsewhere in the county, along the Route 3 corridor.

    "This is what we have been saying all along," said Zann Nelson, president of Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, "that there is a win-win situation in which Wal-mart can build their store and Orange County's economic development can grow."

    In 1864, 185,000 Union and Confederate troops fought at Wilderness Battlefield.  Thirty-five thousand soldiers died, were injured, or went missing after the three day battle.  Many historians call the engagement a turning point in the Civil War.

    A local planning commission had greenlighted Wal-mart's proposed store 1 mile from the entrance to the battlefield's park.

    A lawsuit brought by preservation groups challenging that decision was being heard in court this week, when Wal-Mart made their announcement.

    Preservation groups said they look forward to working with Wal-Mart in the search for the future site.

    State lawmakers have been pleased with the decision.  "Wal-Mart deserves high praise for its wise decision today that balances preservation and economic growth," said Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William Howell.  "Every American benefits when hallowed ground such as that at the Wilderness Battlefield is preserved rather than developed."