Although Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant were the first to fight on land located in Locus Grove, Virginia, during the civil war, there is a new battle taking place in the same area between Wal-Mart and preservationists.
Wal-Mart wants to build a Supercenter within gunshot range of where Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant first fought at the Battlefield of the Wilderness.
According to an article from a writer for The Associated Press, this 2009 battle over land is heating up quickly.
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A who’s who of historians including filmmaker Ken Burns and Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough sent a letter last month to H. Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., urging the company to build somewhere farther from the Wilderness Battlefield.
“The Wilderness is an indelible part of our history, its very ground hallowed by the American blood spilled there, and it cannot be moved,” said the letter from 253 scholars and others.
Wal-Mart and its supporters point out that the new 138,000-square-foot store would be right behind a bank and a small strip mall. This location is a mile from entrance to the site of the 1864 clash that left thousands dead and hastened the war’s end.
Local leaders also want the $500,000 in tax revenue they estimate the big box store will generate for rural Orange County, a gradually growing area about 60 miles southwest of Washington.
“In these economic times, the fact that Wal-Mart wants to come into the county is an economic plus,” said R. Mark Johnson, a tire shop owner and chairman of the county’s board of supervisors. “This is hardly pristine wilderness we’re talking about.”
Grant’s Union troops were headed to Richmond on May 4, 1864, when they confronted Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The Battle of the Wilderness involved more than 100,000 Union troops and 61,000 Confederates. The fighting, according to National Park Service estimates, left more than 4,000 dead and 20,000 wounded.
Some 2,700 acres of the Wilderness Battlefield are protected as part of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
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