A letter appeared in Friday’s Free Lance-Star that stated unequivocally that the Walmart site is on the Wilderness Battlefield. The letter is from the chief of the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, the federal authority on our nation’s battlefields.
Wal-Mart site definitely is battlefield
August 14, 2009 12:38 am
In the July 31 article titled “Orange schedules Wal-Mart do-over,” the author indicates that the proposed Wal-Mart site, while not on National Park Service land, is “in an area designated for study for possible historic significance.”
In fact, the area in question has been accepted as part of the battlefield since the early 1990s.
In 1990, a Congress concerned with the rapid private development of historic battlefield land appointed a blue-ribbon commission of Civil War scholars and educators to study the conditions of and threats to battlefields across the country.
As part of its study, the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission mapped the “maximum delineation” of more than 350 battlefields nationwide, including the Wilderness. The commission called this boundary the “Study Area.”
The Study Area, or maximum delineation of the battlefield, contains terrain and resources known to contribute to the battle and the intervening landscape that connects them.
This concept of battlefield includes areas where troops maneuvered and deployed; where they established command centers, communication posts, and medical services; the routes troops took from one location to another; and of course, locations where they fought.
Historical accounts, military terrain analysis, and on-the-ground feature identification informed the delineation of the Study Area.
The parcel Wal-Mart proposes has fallen within the Wilderness Battlefield Study Area since 1993.
The commission’s Study Area boundary also included the National Park Service’s lands. The commission designed the Study Area to be a planning tool that would inform federal, state, and local decisions about grants, development, and land protection.
The writer is chief of the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program.