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Hundreds of historians, including Mr. McPherson, filmmaker Ken Burns and celebrities such as Robert Duvall had appealed to Wal-Mart to walk away from the 50-acre property and find another place to build in the rural county of fewer than 35,000 people.

Mr. McPherson wrote in a summary of his testimony that Grant’s headquarters and his senior leaders were encamped near the site of the proposed store and Union casualties were treated on the site or in an area destined to be a parking lot for the store.

“Among other things, thousands of wounded and dying soldiers occupied the then open fields that included the Walmart site, which is where many of the Union Army hospital tents were located during the battle,” Mr. McPherson wrote.

Wal-Mart and county officials argued that no significant battles occurred on the site, but preservation groups were unrelenting. They supplied maps of troop movements and maneuvers in a region that is dotted with Civil War battlefields.

“We have long believed that Wal-Mart would ultimately recognize that it is in the best interests of all concerned to move their intended store away from the battlefield,” said James Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust. “We applaud Walmart officials for putting the interests of historic preservation first. Sam Walton would be proud of this decision.”

The dispute was scheduled for an eight-day trial in Orange County Circuit Court. Wal-Mart’s decision to give up its special use permit was announced at the start of what was to be the second day of hearings on motions.

Mr. Wertz could not point to one reason for the retailer’s turnabout but said the decision was made after continuing corporate discussions about balancing economic decisions and the concerns of preservationists.

While preservation groups battled the store, residents and some county officials welcomed the convenience of a Supercenter and the jobs and tax revenue it would have generated for the county.