Chickamauga and Chattanooga
Administrative History
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A. General Administration and Personnel

From inception of the federal government's role in the establishment of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park direction of its early affairs lay in the hands of the three-man Commission appointed by the Secretary of War. According to the 1890 act establishing the park, each commissioner "shall have actively participated in the battle of Chickamauga or one of the battles about Chattanooga. . . ." Two of the commissioners were to be civilian, and one was to be detailed as secretary from the regular army. Their offices would remain in Washington, [1] although one of them, Alexander P. Stewart, resided near the park and directly supervised road construction there. As indicated, the commissioners who governed the establishment of the park were all veterans of the engagements around Chattanooga in 1863. Chairman Joseph S. Fullerton of Missouri had served on the staff of Union Major General Gordon Granger. Stewart was a divisional commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, and Kellogg had served on Thomas's staff. Boynton, who was historical aide at the park, had been a lieutenant colonel of the Thirty-fifth Ohio Infantry during the Battle of Chickamauga. [2]

The Commission, with various members, functioned until 1921, when the Secretary of War assumed its duties. The first change in composition was the departure of Secretary Kellogg, who was replaced by Major Frank G. Smith, Second Artillery, on December 31, 1893. [3] Following the death of Chairman Fullerton in 1897, Boynton advanced to fill the vacancy. His old position as historical aide went to Henry M. Duffield, a Civil War veteran. When the War with Spain began both Boynton and Duffield were commissioned brigadier generals of volunteers, but continued in their respective duties at the park. [4] Boynton, in addition, was to "represent the Secretary of War and be obeyed accordingly in enforcing the regulations. . . for the government of the park." [5] By 1899 another historical aide--"the assistant in Confederate work"--was also on the commission staff. He was Chattanooga resident James P. Smartt, whose major task was to collect "information upon unsettled points from the veterans who visit the fields." (In 1912 Smartt became the "assistant in historical work.") [6]

Boynton's long association with the park ended with his death on June 3, 1905. Five days later his hand-picked successor was appointed chairman. Ezra A. Carman had served during the Civil War as a colonel of New Jersey infantry and was a noted supporter of the national military park concept. [7] Only Alexander P. Stewart, the resident commissioner, remained of the three original appointees. He and Carman technically earned salaries of $3,600 per year, although in 1907 illness waylaid Stewart and he drew no income. [8] Stewart died August 30, 1908, and his position was filled by Joseph B. Cumming of Georgia, destined to be last of the commissioners. In December, 1908, now-retired Brigadier General Smith, for fifteen years secretary of the Commission, requested his relief. The vacancy was filled by a medal of honor winner, retired army colonel John Tweedale. [9]

Other changes followed. Carman died on Christmas Day, 1909; one month passed before former colonel and Ohio congressional representative Charles H. Grosvenor was appointed his successor as chairman. Then, in May, 1910, Tweedale requested his relief as secretary and was replaced by W.J. Colburn of Tennessee. Baxter Smith, also of Tennessee, was designated assistant secretary in April, 1910. [10] Commissioner Colburn left office in September, 1911, and was replaced by John T. Wilder, who had led Indiana troops at Chickamauga. [11] On September 9, 1914, Historical Assistant Smartt expired. The Commission decided against filling the vacancy, [12] but commended the memory of Smartt, "whose long years of faithful and loyal service contributed in no small degree to the correct and accurate markings on the battlefields in and around Chattanooga." [13]

The demise of the Commission occurred quickly thereafter. Wilder died October 20, 1917. Within ten days Chairman Grosvenor, age eighty-five, died at his home in Ohio and the Secretary of War designated Cumming as chairman. No replacements were made for the deceased members. Assistant Secretary Smith died in June, 1919, and Cumming himself expired three years later. [14]

Throughout the Commission's existence, on-site direction of park work was vested in the resident assistant superintendent, William Tillman, who was assisted by a staff of six, all of whom resided on the battlefield. [15] Park offices were variously located; when the park was created the administrative facility appears to have been in Chattanooga but was moved shortly to Crawfish Springs. In 1893 the office was moved to Chattanooga. [16]

During the early years much friction occurred among Commission members, particularly between Secretary Kellogg and his civilian counterparts. Kellogg felt that his efforts to keep expenses down were unsuccessful, and he addressed the Secretary of War on the matter:

Considerable useless and expensive construction and clearance work has been done; inordinately high prices have been paid and are to be paid for lands; unnecessary legal expenses have been created in the United States Court. All this I have been powerless to prevent. [17]

Kellogg recommended, "to expedite the completion of this immense project," that an "Executive Officer" be designated within the Commission who would wield authority in all areas of administration, It is possible that Kellogg was motivated by an animosity towards him by Fullerton and Stewart. "All of the correspondence between Commissioner Fullerton and Stewart has, of late, assumed a personal form not always suitable for filing. . . ," he wrote. "None of it is addressed to or through the Secretary of the Commission." [18] When word of the allegations reached Fullerton and Stewart, they were furious. Responded Stewart:

The whole communication seems to me an unjustifiable and unnecessary arraignment of General Fullerton and myself, as wholly unworthy of confidence, and a request for the appointment of Secretary Kellogg to the supreme control of the work of the Commission. For myself, I respectfully decline to be a subordinate of his, or to submit in any way to be reprimanded or disciplined by him. [19]

Both Stewart and Fullerton lodged strongly-worded letters with the Secretary of War protesting Kellogg's complaints. Soon after Kellogg was reassigned to Paris, effectively ending the dispute. [20]

The work of establishing the national military park extended beyond its dedication. The commissioners directed further tasks of road building, land acquisition, and erection of markers, tablets, and monuments. Total expenditures for fiscal year 1895 stood at $49,585.13. In 1896 another $75,000 was appropriated to continue the work. [21] By the end of the year the detailed topographic maps of the battlegrounds, so long in preparation, were complete, [22] providing an important resource document to aid in future development and interpretation at the park. In 1897 Congress appropriated another $75,000 for the park's establishment, and in the following year, despite the presence of thousands of soldiers in the park mobilized for the Spanish-American War, $60,000 was allotted. [23] Although the commission chairman notified the War Department early in 1901 that the park would be fully established by the end of 1902, congressional appropriations continued to be made as late as 1918 "for continuing the establishment's" of the park. In 1905 $31,000 was authorized for the project; in 1918 $55,260 was appropriated. [24]

After the shortlived War with Spain the troops assembled at Chickamauga Park were reassigned or went home, leaving many clean-up operations to the park staff. As of December, 1898, all park employees were placed under the direction of Engineer Betts, who was charged with the daily management of the area. "His orders will be obeyed, subject to the supervision and approval of the Commissioners. . . ." [25] Betts had served as Park Engineer since 1891; he would continue as de facto superintendent until 1911 and was responsible for much of the park's early development, including many of the maps prepared under the auspices of Kellogg and Boynton. [26] The position of assistant superintendent was downgraded to that of ranger, or "mounted guardian." Two rangers were assigned to the Georgia portion of the park, one served Lookout Mountain, another Missionary Ridge, and another Orchard Knob. Also employed under the engineer were a rodman, a bookkeeper, a stenographer, an office boy (who doubled as a draftsman and photographer), a painter, a carpenter, a general laborer, and a stableman-driver. [27] The employees were allowed certain privileges; in 1899, for example, the commissioners granted the "guardians" an allotment of land for garden purposes "sufficient for . . . family needs." [28]

The Commission administered the growth of the park primarily from its Washington office. Occasionally progress was disrupted by unforeseen events. In 1899 two floods and a tornado caused heavy damage, necessitating extended labor that brought a financial deficiency "for the first time in the history of the park." [29] Throughout this period the process of erecting markers and monuments went on as before, and in 1901 the City of Chattanooga passed ordinances protecting the Commission's work within the city limits, including the placement of bronze locality tablets and condemned cannons. [30] Sometimes the commissioners found themselves at odds with their state counterparts over matters of accuracy or objectivity in the latter's annual reports, such as occurred with the Indiana Commission's report in 1902. [31]

In the early 1900s economy in all the national military parks (Chickamauga and Chattanooga, Gettysburg, Shiloh, and Vicksburg) became a prime concern. At Chickamauga and Chattanooga park savings were increased by reducing the number of guardians to one and giving him the authority of a deputy U.S. Marshal. Simultaneously, the head of each labor force was given the authority of the former guardians. "This very largely increases the force of caretakers, at the same time that it decreases the cost of park supervision. . . , since the foremen and laborers, now exercising the authority of guardians, perform this service without extra pay." [32]

As of 1906 the staff (including commissioners) of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, together with their salaries, consisted of the following:

Gen. Ezra A. Carman, Chairman of Commission$3,600
Gen. Frank G. Smith, Secretary and Commissioner (Brigadier General, U.S.A. retired)-----
Gen. Alexander P. Stewart, Commissioner3,600
Richard B. Randolph, Clerk of Commission1,800
J.P. Smartt, Assistant in Confederate Work1,800
E.E. Betts, Engineer2,400
C.E. Boles, Messenger900
Jno. M. Hartman, Typewriter and assistant to Engineer600
W.A. Wood, Superintendent of Chickamauga Park, Georgia Division1,500
George D. Barnes, Park Marshal900
Monroe Hilton, Stone Mason540
Tom Murphy, Stableman300
Mark Thrash300

In addition, from ten to forty persons were employed throughout the year as day laborers drawing wages of from $1.00 to $1.50 per day. A number of drivers and their wagons were also hired irregularly, with compensation of $2-$3.00 per day. [33]

The major expense of running four such parks as Chickamauga and Chattanooga, however, eventually caused the Secretary of War, as well as certain congressmen, to propose the consolidation of the four national commissions into one of three or five members. "The conditions that now prevail," wrote Secretary of War William H. Taft, "result in salary rolls out of all proportion to the total expenditures for improvement." [34] Nonetheless, the commissioners were able to stave off their demise for several years, although Congress did manage a change in the composition of the Commission, replacing the army representative with a civilian. Finally, in 1912, Congress, unable to pass legislation for a single commission for all the parks, agreed to gradually transfer the commissions' duties to the Secretary of War as attrition of their membership occurred. [35]

Another move towards economy and efficiency lay in the removal of the office of the National Commission from Washington. Park headquarters and temporary commission office were in Chattanooga's Custom House (from November, 1908, to September, 1909, they were in the James Building while repairs were completed on the Custom House), and by 1910 congressional efforts were directed to moving the commissioners there permanently. [36] "It is near the park," stated the Secretary of War, "where so much administrative work is carried on, and it will be convenient for visitors to the park to come into touch with some representative of commission there." [37] On April 10, 1910, the park enabling act was amended to provide for the Commission's move to Chattanooga with a salary established at $300 per month. [38]

The first meeting of the "Board of Commissioners" in its new Chattanooga office took place May 5, 1910. A set of rules and regulations was adopted strictly governing the actions of the Commission and all transactions of the advisory body were made subject to the approval of the Secretary of War. Regular meetings observing parliamentary procedures were to be held "on the second Thursday of January, May and October," with special meetings called at the discretion of the chairman. The Commission would take special note of its finances, with all expenditures made by approved vouchers and charged to designated appropriations. [39] These rules and regulations remained in effect for a year. Then, in an extraordinary action that divided the body, they were precipitately abolished, apparently to suit the convenience of Chairman Grosvenor, who desired to remain at his home in Athens, Ohio. By a vote of two to one, the following procedural course was adopted:

That this commission in the discharge of its duties will act upon such matters as are within its jurisdiction at any time and in any place where such action is necessary and proper for the government, management and administration of the affairs of . . [Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military] Park, all of its proceedings in matters requiring approval of the Secretary of War to be forwarded without delay of the Chairman to the War Department for the approval or disapproval of the Secretary. [40]

The Commission also abolished the office of Park Engineer as of July 1, 1911, and appointed a Superintendent to direct work and administer affairs of the park looking to "the control, management, care and protection of its physical interests. . . ." [41]

The action of the Commission in repealing its governing regulations, rumored to be because of Grosvenor's personal whim, created controversy in Chattanooga. Word circulated that the headquarters of the Commission had been relocated to Athens, Ohio, and it became known that Grosvenor had spent but nine days in 1910, and only five in 1911, at the park. Adding fuel to the matter was the attempt by Grosvenor and Commissioner Cumming, to have the dissenting member, W.J. Colburn, removed. The intervention of President Taft prevented the ouster, but Colburn eventually departed and the experience left the Commission in a turmoil. [42] In October, 1911, Grosvenor announced in Chattanooga that the reported removal of the park office "was without foundation or fact." [43] Under the new arrangement the superintendent of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park was Richard B. Randolph, who had formerly been chief clerk. An attempt to procure Randolph an automobile for use in the park was rejected by the War Department as unwarranted. [44]

Such problems as these with the Commission were greatly alleviated with passage of the 1912 act providing for the Secretary of War to assume the duties of members vacating their offices by death or resignation. [45] In May, 1922, Commissioner Cumming died at age eighty-seven, the last of the line that began in 1890. The War Department thus became sole administrator of the park, with Superintendent Randolph assuming the role of chief executive officer. [46] During the post-World War I years the duties of the park staff remained the same, although the number of employees dropped considerably with the end of the Commission. As of June, 1930, permanent park positions had been reduced to the following personnel, with their salaries:

1 Superintendent$3400.00
1 Asst. Storekeeper and Bookkeeper2000.00
1 Clerk1860.00
1 Unmounted Guardian2100.00
1 Unmounted Guardian1860.00
1 Guard1680.00

In addition, a fluctuating number of temporary employees assisted in maintaining the park. In June, 1930, there were forty-six such people employed. [47] Regulations published in 1931 by the War Department laid down personnel requirements for positions in all the national military parks. Notably, superintendents "should have a military background and have full knowledge of military history." [48] And two years later the War Department issued a circular prohibiting the employment of female guides in any of the parks. [49]

The years of War Department control over Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park were fraught with questions concerning usage of the tract for military purposes. An act approved in 1896, allowed for such usage, but it clearly conflicted with the preservation ideal embraced by the initial park concept. The greatest concentrations of troops occurred there during the Spanish-American War and World War I, when considerable destruction took place. Moreover, ongoing rivalry of authority between park administrators and the Army followed the 1904 establishment of Fort Oglethorpe within the northeast edge of the Chickamauga tract. [50] Thereafter, military manuevers became annual events at Chickamauga Park, much to the discomfiture of the park staff. By the late 1920s, when transfer of the national military parks, battlefields, and cemeteries, to the Department of the Interior was contemplated there was much opposition to the idea as concerned Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park because of the presence of Fort Oglethorpe. Wrote one opponent:

As a general rule, the control of National Parks by the Department of Interior may be advisable, but we believe Chickamauga Park offers an exception to the general rule and should be treated separately for the reason that it is adjacent to Fort Oglethorpe, a Military Post with a reservation of approximately 400 acres, of which only a small portion is suitable for training purposes, and which has necessitated the use of Chickamauga Park for training troops. The use of and future value of Fort Oglethorpe as a Military Post would therefore seem to be contingent upon the continued use of Chickamauga Park for military purposes.

Furthermore, the military authorities have always relied upon the use of Chickamauga Park in connection with any proposition involving the use of Fort Oglethorpe for training purposes as evidenced during the Spanish-American War and the late World War, when Chickamauga Park was one of the most important mobilization and training centers. During each of these periods there were assembled as many as fifty thousand men in Chickamauga Park. [51]

Despite arguments against the park's transfer the action was inevitable when the National Park Service took over administration of all national military parks and cemeteries in August, 1933. [52] Thereafter, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park was administratively under the Department of the Interior, although use of the park for military purposes as outlined in the enabling act went unchanged.

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Last Updated: 01-Jun-2002