11 December 2008 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 3 comments

About a month ago, I was contacted by the Civil War Preservation Trust to see whether I would be a signatory of a letter from concerned Civil War historians to the CEO of WalMart regarding the proposal to construct a WalMart superstore on a piece of the Wilderness battlefield.

The letter was released today, and it’s really quite remarkable. Over 250 historians have endorsed it. Here it is:

Mr. Lee Scott, President and CEO
Walmart Stores, Inc.
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611

Dear Mr. Scott:

I urge you in the strongest possible terms to pursue alternate building locations for the Walmart Supercenter proposed in Orange County, Virginia. The site currently under consideration lies within the historic boundary of the Wilderness Battlefield and only one quarter mile from the current boundary of the Wilderness Battlefield unit of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

The Battle of the Wilderness was among the most significant engagements of the Civil War. It marked the first time legendary generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant faced off against one another on the field of battle. During two days of desperate conflict in a harsh, unforgiving landscape tangled with underbrush, 4,000 Americans lost their lives and nearly 20,000 were wounded.

The proposed location will greatly increase traffic through the area and encourage further development to encroach upon and spoil the battlefield. This, in turn, will seriously degrade the experience for the many tens of thousands of heritage tourists who visit this National Park every year. The Wilderness Battlefield is easily the biggest tourist attraction in Orange County, with visitors coming from around the world to experience its serenity and contemplate its history and significance.

As a historian, I feel strongly that the Wilderness Battlefield is a unique historic and cultural treasure deserving careful stewardship. Currently only approximately 20 percent of the battlefield is protected by the National Park Service. If built, this Walmart would seriously undermine ongoing efforts to see more of this historic land preserved and deny future generations the opportunity to wander a landscape that has, until now, remained largely unchanged since 1864.

The Wilderness is an indelible part of our history, its very ground hallowed by the American blood spilled there, and it cannot be moved. Surely Walmart can identify a site that would meet its needs without changing the very character of the battlefield.

There are many places in central Virginia to build a commercial development, but there is only one Wilderness Battlefield. Please respect our great nation’s history and move your store farther away from this historic site and National Park.


Terrie Aamodt, Walla Walla University
Edward D. Abrahams, Silver Spring, Md.
Sean P. Adams, University of Florida
Garry Adelman, History Associates, Inc.
Nicholas Aieta, the Marlborough School, West Springfield, Mass.
A.J. Aiseirithe, Washington, D.C.
James Anderson, Ashburn, Va.
Adam Arenson, University of Texas
Jonathan M. Atkins, Berry College
Arthur H. Auten, University of Hartford
David Bard, Concord College
Alwyn Barr, Texas Tech University
Craig A. Bauer, Metairie, La.
Erik Bauer, West Hollywood, Calif.
Dale Baum, Texas A&M University
Edwin C. Bearss, Historian emeritus, National Park Service
Caryn Cosse Bell, University of Massachusetts at Lowell
Jeffrey R. Bennett, Waterford, N.Y.
Shannon Bennett, Ellettsville, Ind.
Melvyn S. Berger, Newton, Mass.
Arthur W. Bergeron, Shippensburg, Pa.
Edward H. Bergerstrom, Port Richey, Fla.
Eugene H. Berwanger, Colorado State University
Fred W. Beuttler, Deputy Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
Darrel Bigham, University of Southern Indiana
John Bloom, Las Cruces, N.M.
Frederick J. Blue, Youngstown State University
Christopher Bobal, Lees Summit, Mo.
Thomas Bockhorn, Huntsville, Ala.
Keith Bohannon, University of West Georgia
Phillip S. Bolger, San Diego, Calif.
Patrick Boyd, the Pomfret School, Pomfret, Conn.
Vernon S. Braswell, Corpus Christi, Tex.
Roger D. Bridges, Bloomington, Ill.
Ronald S. Brockway, Regis University
Col. George M. Brooke, III, USMC (Ret.), Lexington, Va.
Bruce A. Brown, Cypress, Calif.
Norman D. Brown, University of Texas, Austen, Tex.
David Brush, the Pomfret School, Pomfret, Conn.
Jim Burgess, Manassas National Battlefield, Va.
Ken Burns, Walpole, N.H.
Brian Burton, Ferndale, Wash.
Victoria Bynum, Texas State University-San Marcos
Peter S. Carmichael, West Virginia University
Marius M. Carriere, Christian Brothers University
Katherine Cassioppi, National-Louis University
Gary Casteel, Lexington, Va.
Jane Turner Censer, George Mason University
William Cheek, San Diego State University
John Cimprich, Thomas More College
Thomas G. Clemens, Hagerstown Community College
Leon F. Cohn, Plantation, Fla.
Thomas B. Colbert, Marshalltown Community College
James R. Connor, Chancellor emeritus University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
William J. Cooper, Jr., Louisiana State University
Janet L. Coryell, Western Michigan University
Charles E. Coulter, Yankton, S.D.
Robert E. Curran, Richmond, Ky.
Thomas F. Curran, Saint Louis, Mo.
Gordon E. Dammann, National Museum of Civil War Medicine
Guy Stephen Davis, Atlanta, Ga.
Joseph G. Dawson, III, Texas A&M University
Mary DeCredico, United States Naval Academy
James Lyle DeMarce, Arlington, Va.
Charles B. Dew, Williams College
Steven Deyle, University of Houston
Richard DiNardo, Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Luis-Alejandro Dinnella-Borrego, Warwick, N.Y.
Richard R. Duncan, Alexandria, Va.
Kenneth Durr, History Associates, Inc.
David Dykstra, Poolesville, Md.
Mark Elliott, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Robert F. Engs, University of Pennsylvania
C. Wyatt Evans, Drew University
Daniel Feller, University of Tennessee
Rex H. Felton, Tiffin, Ohio
Paul Finkelman, Albany Law School
Jeff Fioravanti, Lynn, Mass.
Joseph C. Fitzharris, University of Saint Thomas
J.K. Folmarm California, Minn.
George B. Forgie, University of Texas Austin
Lee W. Formwalt, Organization of American Historians
Janet B. Frazer, Narberth, Pa.
Garry W. Gallagher, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
Jonathan Gantt, Columbia College
Jason Gart, History Associates, Inc.
Louis S. Gerteis, University of Missouri, St. Louis
Kate C. Gillin, the Pomfret School, Pomfret, Conn.
Mary Giunta, Edinburg, Va.
Martin K. Gordon, Columbia, Md.
Cathy Gorn, University of Maryland
Thomas M. Grace, Amherst, N.Y.
Susan W. Gray, Severna Park, Md.
A. Wilson Greene, Pamplin Historical Park and National Museum of the Civil War Soldier
Debra F. Greene, Jefferson City, Mo.
Jim Griffin, Frisco, Tex.
Linda J. Guy, Clearville, Pa.
Edward J. Hagerty, American Military University
Alfred W. Hahn, Midlothian, Va.
Judith Lee Hallock, South Setauket, N.Y.
Jerry Harlow, President, Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation
D. Scott Hartwig, Gettysburg National Military Park, Pa.
David S. Heidler, Colorado State University
Jeannie Heidler, United States Air Force Academy
John S. Heiser, Gettysburg National Military Park, Pa.
Earl J. Hess, Lincoln Memorial University
Libra Hilde, San Jose State University
T. John Hillmer, Jr., Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, Mo.
David Hochfelder, State University of New York – Albany
Sylvia Hoffert, Texas A&M University
Patrick Hotard, Philadelphia, Pa.
Richard Houston, Harwich, Mass.
Randal L. Hoyer, Madonna University
Richard L. Hutchison, Fort Worth, Tex.
Brian M. Ingrassia, Georgia State University
Perry D. Jamieson, Crofton, Md.
Jim Jobe, Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Tenn.
Willie Ray Johnson, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Ga.
Vivian Lee Joyner, New Hill, N.C.
Whitmel M. Joyner, New Hill, N.C.
Walter D. Kamphoefner, Texas A&M University
Amalie M. Kass, Harvard Medical School
Philip M. Katz, Washington, D.C.
Brad Keefer, Kent State University
Brian J. Kenny, Denver, Co.
Victoria A. Kin, San Antonio, Tex.
George W. Knepper, University of Akron
Christopher Kolakowski, National Museum of the U.S. Army Reserve
Carl E. Kramer, Indiana University Southeast
Arnold Krammer, Texas A&M University
Robert K. Krick, Fredericksburg, Va.
Michael E. Krivdo, Texas A&M University
Benjamin Labaree, Saint Alban’s School, Washington, D.C.
Dan Laney, Austin, Tex.
Connie Langum, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, Mo.
William P. Leeman, Coventry, R.I.
Kevin Levin, Charlottesville, Va.
Richard G. Lowe, University of North Texas
Robert W. Lowery, Jr., Newport News, Va.
M. Philip Lucas, Cornell College
R. Wayne Mahood, Geneseo, N.Y.
Daniel Martin, Lancaster, Pa.
William Marvel, South Conway, N.H.
Matthew Mason, Brigham Young University
Dinah M. Mayo-Bobee, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
George T. Mazuzan, Springfield, Va.
Nathan McAlister, Hoyt, Kan.
David McCullough
Dennis K. McDaniel, Washington, D.C.
James M. McPherson, Princeton University
Kathleen G. McKesson, Eighty Four, Pa.
James G. Mendez, Chicago, Ill.
Brian Craig Miller, Emporia State University
Roger E. Miller, Eagle River, Alaska.
Wilbur R. Miller, State University of New York – Stony Brook
Eric J. Mink, Fredericksburg, Va.
Robert E. Mitchell, Brookline, Mass.
John Moody, Orange Park, Fla.
Richard Moore, Woodbridge, Va.
Richard Morey, Kent Place School, Summit, N.J.
Geoffrey Morrison, Saint Louis, Mo.
Brenda Murray, North Pole, Alaska.
Richard J. Myers, Doylestown, Pa.
Eric Nedergaard, Mesa, Ariz.
Robert D. Neuleib, Normal, Ill.
Kenneth Noe, Auburn University
Justin Oakley, Martinsville, Ind.
Kristen Oertel, Millsaps College
Marvin Olson, La Crescenta, Ca.
Beverly Palmer, Claremont, Ca.
John T. Payne, Lone Star College
Graham Peck, Saint Xavier University
William D. Pederson, Louisiana State University, Shreveport
William E. Pellerin, Santa Barbara, Ca.
Don Pfanz, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Va.
Michael Pierson, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Kermit J. Pike, Western Reserve Historical Society, Mentor, Ohio
Ann Poe, Alexandria, Va.
Kieth Ploakoff, Rossmoor, Ca.
Lawrence N. Powell, Tulane University
Adam J. Pratt. Baton Rouge, La.
Gerald Prokopowicz, East Carolina University
John Quist, Shippensburg University
Steven J. Rauch, Evans, Ga.
S. Waite Rawls, III, Museum of the Confederacy
Carol Reardon, Pennsylvania State University
Douglas Reasner, Durant, Iowa
Michael Reis, History Associates, Inc.
Robert V. Remini, Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
James Renberg, Southern Pines, N.C.
Gordon Rhea, Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Jean Richardson, Buffalo State College
Jeffrey Richman, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Harris D. Riley, Jr., M.D., Nashville, Tenn.
James I. Robertson, Jr., Virginia Tech
Stephen I. Rockenbach, Virginia State University
Sylvia Rodrigue, Baton Rouge, La.
Rodney A. Ross, Center for Legislative Archives, Washington, D.C.
Jennifer Ross-Nazzal, Johnson Space Center
Jeffrey J. Safford, Montana State University
Frank Scaturro, New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Mark S. Schantz, Hendrix College
Laurence D. Schiller, Deerfield, Ill.
Christopher A. Schnell, Springfield, Ill.
Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein, Springfield, Ill.
Frederick Schult, Jr., New York University
Donald L. Schupp, Warrenton, Va.
Richard D. Schwartz, Morristown, N.J.
Cynthia Seacord, Schenectady, N.Y.
Tomas Seaver, Woonsocket, R.I.
Diane Shalda, Chicago Military Academy
Peter D. Sheridan, Torrance, Ca.
Mark Snyder, Akron, Ohio
John Sotak, O.S.A., New Lenox, Ill.
Clay W. Stuckey, DDS, Bedford, Ind.
Carlyn Swaim, History Associates, Inc.
Andrew Talkov, Virginia Historical Society
Robert A. Taylor, Florida Institute of Technology
Paul H. Tedesco, Northeastern University
James Thayer, Milford, Mass.
Emory M. Thomas, University of Georgia
JoAnne Thomas, Peoria, Ill.
Joseph Trent, Worcester, Mass.
Tony R. Trimble, Plainfield, Ind.
I. Bruce Turner, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Edwin C. Ulmer, Jr., Feasterville, Pa.
Charles W. Van Adder, Forked River, N.J.
Charles Vincent, Baker, La.
Joseph F. von Deck, Ashburnham, Ma.
Brent Vosburg, Elizabethtown, N.J.
Robert Voss, Lincoln, Neb.
George N. Vourlojianis, Lorain County Community College
Christopher R. Waldrep, San Francisco State University
John Weaver, Tipp City, Ohio
Robert Welch, Ames, Iowa
Lowell E. Wenger, Cincinnati, Ohio
Jeffrey Wert, Centre Hall, Pa.
Bruce E. Wilburn, Glen Allen, Va.
Diana I. Williams, Wellesley College
Mary Williams, Fort Davis National Historic Site, Tex.
Terry Winschel, Vicksburg National Military Park, Miss.
Roger Winthrop, Lansing, Mich.
Eric J. Wittenberg, Columbus, Ohio
Ralph A. Wooster, Lamar University
Donald Yacovone, Harvard University
Shirley J. Yee, University of Washington
Mitchell Yockelson, National Archives and Records Administration
William D. Young, Maple Woods Community College
Mary E. Younger, Dayton, Ohio
Jack Zevin, Queens College, City University of New York

To my readers: you may not be a historian, and you may not have signed this letter. However, you have a voice, and you can make it heard. Please take the time to send a letter to Mr. Scott imploring him to find another location for this store. We have plenty of WalMarts. We only have one Wilderness.

Scridb filter


  1. David Rhoads
    Thu 11th Dec 2008 at 10:55 am

    Instead of or in addition to sending a letter to Mr. Scott, I would suggest sending a letter to the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Wal-Mart’s position on the Wilderness site already seems to be set (see the Nov. 26 article about the issue in the Orange County Review at http://www.orangenews.com/ocn/news/local/local_govtpolitics/article/fowb_wal-mart_pkay_just_not_there/31931/ ) and is unlikely to change at this point. Indeed, Wal-Mart’s representative says they’ve already considered alternative sites in the County and rejected them.

    However, because Wal-Mart wants to build a big box store, they have to apply to the County for a special use permit, and if enough people voice their objections to the Supervisors, it may be possible to prevent that permit from being granted.

    The Piedmont Environmental Council has a page set up at their website with a template for a letter to the Orange County Board of Supervisors (see http://citizen-networks.org/campaign/protectorangecounty ). I believe that voicing your objections directly to the Supervisors is the action most likely to influence the outcome of this development question.

    David Rhoads
    Orange County

  2. Thu 11th Dec 2008 at 6:29 pm

    I have done both!

    Wal-Mart jerks. One of the 10,000 reasons I never go there…

  3. Thu 11th Dec 2008 at 6:46 pm

    So what are the results?????

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