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Walmart near Va. Civil War site opposed

Associated Press / January 24, 2011

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RICHMOND — Nearly 150 years after Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant fought in northern Virginia, a conflict over the battlefield is taking shape in a courtroom.

The dispute involves whether a Walmart should be built near the Civil War site, and the case pits preservationists and some residents of a rural northern Virginia town against the world’s largest retailer and local officials who approved the Walmart Supercenter.

Both sides are scheduled to make arguments before a judge tomorrow.

The proposed Walmart is located near the site of the Battle of the Wilderness, which is viewed by historians as a critical turning point in the war. An estimated 185,000 Union and Confederate troops fought over three days in 1864, and 30,000 were killed, injured, or went missing. The war ended 11 months later.

The 143,000-square-foot space planned by the Bentonville, Ark., retailer would be outside the limits of the protected national park where the core battlefield is located. The company has stressed the store would be within an area already dotted with retail locations, and in an area zoned for commercial use.

Hundreds of historians have appealed to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to walk away and find another place to build.

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