After the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a controversial special use permit to allow construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter on the Wilderness Battlefield in 2009, many individuals and organizations including the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, Piedmont Environmental Council, Preservation Virginia, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Parks Conservation Association, National Coalition for History and the Civil War Trust; began fighting to protect this site where one of the most significant battles of the CivilWar occurred and some 30,000 people died.
|Map by Civil War Trust|
The battlefield was listed on Preservation Virginia’s Most Endangered Historic Sites List in 2009 and on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2010.
In 2011, after over two years of strategy and legal challenges, Wal-Mart announced that it had abandoned plans to pursue construction of the supercenter at the battlefield. The store was later relocated farther west along Route 3 near Germanna Community College’s Locust Grove campus.
|Members of Wilderness Battlefield Coalition|
After Wal-Mart made the decision to relocate the store, preservationists and local leaders came together to forge a new vision for the region and began the Wilderness Battlefield Gateway Study which recommended low-impact, historically and environmentally sensitive development to create a pleasant place for tourists to stay and shop when they visited the Wilderness Battlefield and nearby Chancellorsville Battlefield, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park as well as Native American sites and the 18th-century Germanna Ford settlement. The study reached a consensus last November.
In the eyes of many in the preservation community, this victory was one of the most important to ever occur in Virginia. The final outcome not only protected the site, it also brought opposing sides together to create the Wilderness Gateway Study to further protect this historically important area. Preservation Virginia’s endangered sites listing hopefully played an important part in this positive conclusion.
|Painting of the Battle of the Wilderness|