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Pulitzer Prize-winning historian says Walmart site is hallowed ground-an integral part of Wilderness battlefield
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|PDF: Summary of the testimony|
In August 2009, the county Board of Supervisors approved the special permit Wal-Mart needed to build its big-box store.
Its decision is being challenged by Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield, which maintains a historic estate in the national park, other groups, and some residents who live within three miles of the project site.
McPherson's testimony isn't certain, Orange County Attorney Sharon Pandak said last night. "It's premature to say [McPherson] will testify," she said. "He's been identified as an expert by the plaintiff, and that's it."
Both sides must submit lists of their expert witnesses, and then it's up to the court whether to allow each one, Pandak said.
Rosenbaum said he could not conceive on what grounds Orange would object to McPherson's testimony.
A 240,000-square-foot retail center, anchored by Walmart, is planned north of State Routes 3 and 20--a cannon shot away from Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
Walmart has noted that its supercenter would be built in an area already home to two retail strip centers.
McPherson told the AP that maps and new research shed light on what happened on and near the Walmart site, which is a short distance from the historic intersection of Germanna Plank Road and the Orange Turnpike.
The Union Army's 5th and 6th Corps situated their field hospitals on or near the Walmart site, his testimony states. Surgeons treated about 8,300 wounded Federal soldiers there and at 2nd Corps hospitals about a mile away, in addition to Confederate wounded brought back by ambulance.
In his testimony, McPherson calls the crossroads area "the nerve center of the Union Army during the Battle of the Wilderness."
The Walmart site is part of the battlefield as defined by the federal Civil War Sites Advisory Commission, on which he served years ago, he wrote.
"This site is important for understanding the Battle of the Wilderness because of its centrality during the entire battle for Union troop movements on the roads through that intersection, artillery emplacements, infantry deployments, communications and care of the wounded," McPherson wrote.
Clint Schemmer: 540/368-5029