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Civil War Trust


For Immediate Release: 05/19/10

Civil War Preservation Trust Supports National Recognition of Threats to Wilderness Battlefield

National Trust for Historic Preservation Names Site one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

(Orange, Va.) – At a news conference this morning, the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) identified Virginia’s Wilderness Battlefield as one of the most threatened historic sites in America through its annual 11 Most Endangered Historic Places listing.  It was the battleground’s second such national designation in a week, following the Civil War Preservation Trust’s (CWPT) inclusion of the Orange County site in its annual History Under Siege™ report, which promotes efforts to protect imperiled Civil War battlefields. 

James Lighthizer, CWPT president, issued the following statement in support of the NTHP designation:

“This dual recognition demonstrates that the historic preservation community is united in its belief that the Wilderness Battlefield must be protected, not diminished by inappropriate development.  It also underscores that ‘endangered’ does not mean ‘lost’ and that these organizations are committed to fighting for the protection of this and other hallowed grounds across America.”

The May 1864 Battle of the Wilderness marked the first time that legendary Civil War commanders Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant met in combat.  Two bloody days of fighting in thick scrub forest produced approximately 29,000 combined casualties and signaled the beginning of the end of the American Civil War. 

Last August, following a contentious public debate, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved construction of 240,000-square-feet of commercial development, most prominently a Walmart supercenter, at the gateway to the Wilderness Battlefield and directly across from Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  NTHP and CWPT, along with other concerned preservation groups, advocated for a long-term planning process that would balance growth and preservation in the area and find a suitable alternate location for Walmart.

In September 2009, NTHP, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield and six local residents filed suit against the Orange County Board of Supervisors, alleging serious errors in the hearing and approval procedure.  CWPT and the National Parks Conservation Association filed a joint amicus curiae brief in support of the litigation.  Just weeks ago, a judge ruled that the case will move forward to trial, finding against the county’s efforts to dismiss all charges.  To learn more about ongoing efforts to protect the Wilderness, visit www.wildernesswalmart.com

With 55,000 members, CWPT is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States.  Its mission is to preserve our nation’s remaining Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds through education and heritage tourism.  Since 1987, the organization has helped save more than 29,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states, including 158 acres associated with the Wilderness Battlefield.  The CWPT website is located at www.civilwar.org.

Contacts

  • Jim Campi, CWPT, (202) 367-1861 ext 7205
  • Mary Koik, CWPT, (202) 367-1861 ext 7231

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