In late spring of 1864, the Army of the Potomac crossed the Rappahannock River in Virginia, whose course served as the de facto boundary between the Union and the Confederacy. Led by Ulysses S. Grant, they inconclusively fought Robert E. Lee’s forces—his first battle facing Grant—for three days at a place called Wilderness, decamping and continuing their advance (to Todd’s Tavern and Spottsylvania Court House) 145 years ago today.
Now the Wilderness Battlefield is at risk. Wal-Mart, riding the tide of the booming economy, is planning to open a store on the site.
On the side of right are actor Robert Duvall, Vermont Democrat Rep. Peter Welch, and historians and preservationists nationwide. On the side of Wal-Mart, however, is Wal-Mart . . . and the Commonwealth of Virginia, which is making no move to induce the megacorporatioon to spare the historic site.
The name “Wal-Mart” normally sets liberal blood a-boil, but even many who shop at and like the big-box chain are standing against them on this one: the issue, at least for them, is not the existence or even the presence of Wal-Mart, but rather the location. Wal-Mart would be well served to choose a site not in the middle of a Civil War battlefield for their newest store along the banks of the roaring Rappahannock.