Chickamauga and Chattanooga
Administrative History
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As the first of its kind in the country, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park promoted the practice of monumentalization, i.e., memorialization in stone, started at Gettysburg and subsequently followed in most other national military parks. The 1890 enabling legislation specifically addressed the matter of such commemoration. The Federal Government would finance the erection of monuments honoring participant Regular Army Units; similarly, through mutual agreement, concerned states were allowed to raise suitable memorials honoring the 1863 service of their respective units at Chickamauga and Chattanooga. To insure the integrity of the historic ground, proposed permanent monuments were to be approved by the Secretary of War. [1] From the time of the park's establishment until its dedication in 1895, groups of veterans were ushered over the fields to help accurately determine the placement of the monuments. Between 1891, when the first monument was erected, and 1977, when the latest one was erected, some 615 memorials to the various participant organizations were placed in the park.

The movement to position monuments at Chickamauga and Chattanooga had been proposed even before the legislation creating the park was introduced in Congress. In the spring of 1890 Secretary of War Redfield Proctor had turned down one request to erect a memorial from surviving members of the 115th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. [2] Later, after the park legislation had passed Congress, several private groups initiated proposals to build monuments on the field. One of these was composed of Indiana veterans who offered to raise funds for a brigade monument at Chickamauga. [3] These private efforts coincided with those of the National Commissioners in urging the governors of states whose troops served at Chickamauga and Chattanooga to appoint provisional state commissions to aid in the location of battle lines at the park until the various legislatures might designate permanent ones. [4] The first state to respond was Ohio, whose General Assembly in May, 1891, passed a measure creating a commission of eight persons, all Chickamauga veterans, to assist in the marking of battlefield sites for the three cavalry regiments, ten artillery batteries, and forty-two infantry regiments that had participated at Chickamauga. The Ohio legislature appropriated $95,000 for monuments to be placed on the battlefield, along with $5,000 to compensate its state commissioners. [5] The activities of the Ohio Commission exemplified those of other states, and were as follows:

It was . . . decided that the Commission should visit the Chickamauga field for the purpose of taking the preliminary steps in tracing out and marking the lines upon which the battle was fought, as soon as it should be advised that the National Commissioners had progressed sufficiently in clearing and preparing the grounds to admit of surveys being made. On the 25th of November, 1891, having been advised of progress in the preparation of the grounds, the Commission visited the battle field, and there met the National Commission. Plans for the prosecution of the work were then adopted, but no further action was taken by our Commission until the last days of April, 1892, when a sub-committee of the Commission went to the battle field and prosecuted the work through the month of May. During this time surveys were made and lines of battle marked. September 15, 1892, the Commission again visited the Park, upon the invitation of the National Commission, and on this occasion it was accompanied by forty-five soldiers who had taken part in the battle, to assist in locating the sites for monuments. These members of Ohio organizations were conveyed to the battle field, subsisted while there, and returned to their homes at the State's expense, as provided for in the law. Not more than thirty sites selected for monuments at this meeting were approved by the Government as historically correct; and not until the 15th day of May, 1894, after months of diligent labor by the Commission, and after it had conveyed other regimental representatives to the battle field, was the last of the fifty-five sites for monuments located and approved by the Secretary of War. [6]

Most other states were slower to respond than Ohio. Meantime, the Federal Government undertook to mark the positions occupied by Regular Army units on the battlefields. In June, 1892, eight officers representing the designated units selected appropriate sites for monuments. Each officer was to submit drawings and inscriptions for the monuments. [7] Foundations were to be laid by park employees. [8] By October, 1892, manufacture of the monument for the Nineteenth Infantry was in progress. This blue Vermont granite structure, made in Rhode Island, weighed approximately twelve tons, cost $1,500, and was one of the first monuments sculpted for the park. [9] Commissioner Kellogg at this time also sought a large number of condemned cannon balls from the Ordnance Department for use in erecting memorials to general officers killed on the battlefield, but his request met repeated delays. [10]

While thus far only Ohio had "availed itself of the provisions of the act of Congress establishing the Park," the National Commission, to ease the financial burden for other states, agreed to record monument locations selected by the state commissions until their legislatures appropriated funds for actually erecting the memorials. "The expense to each State, therefore, will be very small for determining the locations of its troops and having these permanently marked by the National Commission until such time as the State may choose to erect monuments." [11]

In 1893, however, sixteen more state commissions were approved to help locate troop positions at Chickamauga. They were: Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. Some of these commissions, or representative from them, visited the park during the year. Members of the Minnesota Commission selected designs for five monuments to be raised for a total of $15,000 appropriated by the state assembly. [12]

In 1893 the first monuments were completed on the battlefield. During May and June seven of the stone memorials honoring Regular Army units were placed after a lengthy dispute among the Commissioners over their proper location. The controversy, generated in part by members of the Ohio delegation who insisted that the "Regulars"' lines were erroneous, ultimately caused a rift that ended only with the transfer of Commissioner Kellogg, the Regular Army representative. [13] Later in 1893 two more monuments for Regular Army units were erected. The cost of the nine structures did not exceed $2,000 each. They commemorated the Chickamauga service of the Fourth U.S. Cavalry; Companies H, I, and M, Fourth U.S. Artillery; Company H, Fifth U.S. Artillery; and the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth infantry regiments. [14] Some progress was completed on state monuments during the year, too, with Minnesota completing a granite structure costing $2,700. [15] A monumental stone tower commemorating the service of Colonel John T. Wilder's Indiana Brigade and endowed by private subscription of its veterans, begun the previous year, was raised to a height of sixty feet in 1893. [16]

As state participation in the memorialization of Chickamauga accelerated, the National Commissioners late in 1893 formulated a body of regulations governing the raising of monuments. These specified that statements "of the proposed dimensions, designs, inscriptions upon, and material for all monuments, tablets or other markers, must be submitted to the Commissioners. . . ." Plans for monuments, furthermore, must provide data on measurements, elevation, and weight. All designs would be forwarded to the Secretary of War for final approval. Stone monuments were to be manufactured of granite or comparable stone, or of bronze, with foundations "of material, except cement, supplied from the lands of the park. . . ." Costs for park labor to erect the monuments would be borne by the sponsoring states or organizations. Monument inscriptions were to be limited to the individual units' roles at Chickamauga and Chattanooga in 1863. [17]

While these regulations were established to manage memorialization at the park, they came too late for some of the early monuments. Alexander P. Stewart, the southern member of the National Commission, strenuously objected to the use of the phrase, "The Union, it must and shall be preserved," inscribed on the monument to the Second Minnesota Volunteer Infantry erected at Snodgrass Hill. [18] Minnesota also built five other monuments in 1894, while Massachusetts and Ohio finished theirs. [19] State legislatives in New York, Georgia, and South Carolina took action during 1894 to raise monuments to their troops at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, [20] so that by year's end only five states--Alabama, Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland, and West Virginia--had yet to appoint state commissions. [21] Eight of nine pyramidal shell monuments to mark the spots where general officers or acting brigadiers of both sides fell during the fighting were built in 1894. Designed by Park Engineer Betts, the memorials were raised on masonry foundations and each contained more than 400 discarded 8-inch artillery shells filled with sand and cement. A similar monument, though smaller, was erected at the Bragg Reservation on Missionary Ridge. [22]

As the formal dedication of the park in September, 1895, approached, monument-raising activity on the field increased. Early in the year the National Commission rejected a request to use white bronze in the monuments, citing its "cheap and unsightly appearance as compared with real bronze." [23] Also, the Commissioners received permission from city and county authorities for the erection of monuments in the environs of Chattanooga. [24] In preparation for the dedication, Park Historical Aid Henry V. Boynton mustered his journalism skills and prepared articles for newspapers and magazines promoting the upcoming event. His items on Chickamauga and Chattanooga appeared in Harper's Weekly and The Century Magazine, among other periodicals. In one of his endeavors Boynton summed up the status of monumentalization in the park:

Minnesota was first upon the ground with five. Thus far here are the most costly monuments, though all erected are excellent. Massachusetts came next, the first of the Eastern States. Her monument is in a prominent position on Orchard Knob. Ohio has erected fifty-five monuments at Chickamauga. No two of these are of the same design, and all are of first-class execution. This State has also set up over fifty granite markers to indicate other positions of her troops than those designated by the monuments. For the regular regiments and batteries monuments have been erected by the government. [25]

In addition to the stone monuments program, the Park Commissioners began the project of marking artillery positions using discarded cannon. As of 1895 some 400 cannon acquired from the Ordnance Corps were being mounted on iron carriages and situated around the battlefields at designated locations primarily for interpretive purposes. [26]

Some concerns arose as to whether the park might not become littered with monuments if each unit organization were allowed to be represented on the ground. There was considerable agitation in the press for limiting the monuments so as to not detrimentally affect the beauty of the park; preferably, the corps should be "the unit of celebration." [27] A modification of this view was promoted by the War Department "requiring monuments to separate organizations to be placed upon brigade lines of battle, except in rare instances where regiments did notable fighting when separated from their brigades." [28]

By the time of the dedication ceremony some $500,000 had been appropriated by the various states for locating and erecting monuments on the battlefield. [29] Comparatively few of the states had actually erected monuments by then, however. These consisted of Ohio (56 monuments), Illinois (29), Michigan (12), Wisconsin (6), Minnesota (5), Indiana (4), Kansas (3), Missouri (3), and Massachusetts (1). Yet many other monuments were in the process of being built, including those for Pennsylvania and Tennessee besides twenty-three more for Indiana. [30] Several of the states reported delays in work by contractors or difficulties in obtaining sufficient appropriations for the monuments. The Indiana commission asked special consideration for using native oolitic limestone in place of the high-priced granite imported from New England for monuments; the National Commission allowed the change. The Georgia commission did not receive authority to mark monument positions on the field until December, 1895. [31] Formal dedication of the completed monuments took place during the park ceremonies in September, 1895, and involved the participation of governors and delegations of commissioners and veterans from represented states. At these rites the monuments were officially delivered over to the custodianship of the federal government. [32]

In the interest of further regulating the process of memorialization at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the Congress early in 1896 passed an act stipulating that monuments could be raised only on lands actually used during the battles of 1863 "by troops of the State which the proposed monuments are intended to commemorate, except upon those sections of the park set apart for memorials to troops which were engaged in the campaigns, but operated outside of the legal limits of the park. . . ." [33] This was followed in 1897 by a law requiring that "State memorials . . . be placed on brigade lines of battle under the direction of the Park Commission." [34] Meantime, monuments continued to be erected on the field of Chickamauga, including those for Tennessee. Preparations were also being made by the Georgia Commission to contract for a memorial to that state's soldiers. [35] A highlight of 1896 was the November dedication of the New Jersey monument at the Orchard Knob Reservation. This impressive structure of Quincy granite stood over thirty-eight feet high and was completed at a cost of $5,000. [36]

Erection of the imposing New Jersey monument represented the growing trend of the states toward raising memorials to all of their soldiers in addition to, or instead of, those to specific state volunteer organizations. [37] Monuments to the troops of Georgia and Kentucky were dedicated in May, 1899. The former combined blue granite with bronze figures in a striking display of artistic harmony. The Kentucky Monument displayed the names of both Confederate and Union organizations from that state. [38] One of the most impressive state monuments was that of Illinois, erected at Bragg Reservation in 1899 for $20,000. This white granite structure measured twenty-one feet square at its foundation and was eighty feet high. A bronze figure of peace surmounted the structure, while bronze figures of an infantryman, an artilleryman, a cavalryman, and an engineer officer ornamented the base. Illinois also completed a smaller monument fifty-feet in height about the same time. [39] Another impressive structure erected in 1899 was the New York Monument, near the Cravens house on Lookout Mountain. It stood sixty-five feet high and was built of Vermont granite with bronze tablets and figures as embellishment. The New York Monument was built through the subscriptions of members of the Twelfth Corps who fought in the "Battle Above the Clouds." [40] Similarly, the Wilder Monument was the product of private initiative. Begun in 1892, progress was thwarted when a bank failed the following year and the organizers lost $1,200. In 1897 the project was revived with donations and dedication of the completed monument took place in September, 1899, along with other Indiana monuments. The work, which formed a crenelated tower, was built of Chickamauga limestone, measured eighty-five feet high, and would contain a stairway leading to an observation deck. In the base of the structure a steel safe was implanted to contain the records of the Wilder Brigade Association. Dedicated in 1900, total cost of the Wilder Monument was $9,714.27. [41] At the end of 1899 Commission Chairman Boynton reported that 228 monuments had been placed on the field, along with various other markers. [42]

The first years of the twentieth century saw a continuation of the memorialization started in the 1890s. South Carolina, which had delayed its construction of a monument to its soldiers at Chickamauga, finally produced a structure of granite and bronze topped by the state's familiar palmetto tree (replaced in 1905 with a more durable stone obelisk). It was dedicated before a large crowd in May, 1901, near the foot of Snodgrass Hill. [43] Also during the year preparations were made for the raising of monuments by Alabama and Mississippi, and for state monuments (in addition to unit memorials) by Louisiana, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. [44] New York's State Monument on Lookout Mountain was also under construction and, when completed, was "to be the most imposing military monument yet erected by any of the State commissions." [45] In an effort to insure accuracy in the locations and inscriptions of the different state monuments, the National Commission furnished inspection blanks to hotels and transportation businesses around the park, encouraging visitors to report any perceived errors to park authorities. [46]

In 1903 work on the New York Monument proceeded, along with construction of foundations for state memorials for Ohio (at the Ohio Reservation), Maryland (at Orchard Knob), and Iowa (at Sherman Reservation), and for a monument to a unit of Pennsylvania infantry. Work also started on the stairway inside the Wilder Monument. [47] It was finished in 1904 in time for a reunion of Wilder's Brigade attended by about 1,400 veterans and their friends. [48] The Iowa Monument and collateral Iowa memorial were dedicated in November, 1906. Built of granite, the state structure stood seventy-two feet high and had relief sculptures of three infantry soldiers at its base. Cost of the monument was $16,000. [49] In 1908 the shell pyramid honoring Braxton Bragg was removed from the Delong Reservation to Lafayette where it was dedicated in ceremonies held on April 25. [50]

In November, 1910, the New York Monument--called the "Peace Monument"--was dedicated at Point Park. The impressive structure, ninety-five feet high, had taken several years to complete. Composed of pink granite surmounting a broad base of Tennessee marble, the structure's shaft was tapped with bronze figures of Northern and Southern soldiers joining hands in a symbolic display of national reconciliation. The New York Monument cost nearly $80,000 Dedication ceremonies cost more than $20,000, and included attendance by some 400 veterans and a delegation of New Yorkers led by former General Daniel E. Sickles, Chairman of the New York Commission, who had lost a leg at Gettysburg in 1863. [51]

Over the next few years several unusual monuments were raised in the park. In 1912 the War Department gave permission for relatives to erect a headstone in the Brock grave yard, an old private cemetery on the Chickamauga Battlefield. [52] During the following year a 6-inch gun mount and shield recovered from the battleship U.S.S. Maine, sunk in Havana harbor in 1898, were donated to the park and an inscribed bronze tablet prepared. The gun mount was placed in Chattanooga's Union Station until 1915, when it was removed to the corner of Market and Georgia Avenues. [53] Also in 1913 the Florida and Alabama monuments were dedicated during the May reunion of the United Confederate Veterans held at the park. The Florida Monument, in McDonald Field, cost $13,500. [54] The Alabama Monument, unlike those erected by other states, had been privately financed through efforts of the Ladies Memorial Association of Montgomery. In 1907 the Alabama legislature had appropriated funds for such a memorial, but had failed to follow through and the private association received approval from the War Department for its plans. The Alabama Monument was built of Georgia marble at a cost of about $25,000. [55]

In 1914 a site for yet another monument to an Ohio infantry organization was approved and a memorial erected to the Ninety-seventh Regiment. And soon after permission was given for a monument to Ohio troops who fought at Lookout Mountain. [56] Work on this structure got underway in 1916. Located on the Cravens' Reservation, it was completed the following year and was dedicated on October 17, 1917. [57] In 1915 lightning caused substantial damage to Wilder Monument, particularly to the upper walls and the stone staircase inside. The damage was repaired and lightning rods installed on the structure. [58]

Memorialization efforts at the park entered a hiatus after 1916. During World War I the State of Oregon attempted to elicit Congressional interest in "Peace Memorial Halls" to be located at Gettysburg and Chickamauga. The idea was the joint product of politicians and assorted veterans" organizations, with funding to come partly from popular subscription through the nation's public schools. The halls, said Oregon's memorial to Congress, "shall typify or symbolize the fact of peace and fraternity between the sections which were once at war, and shall forever represent one country and one flag. . . ." [59] But the proposed "Peace Memorial Hall" seemingly never attracted an organization to promote it, and the idea languished.

This was not the case with the attempts to memorialize troops serving at the park during the Spanish-American War. In 1922 Superintendent Randolph wrote the War Department opposing an application to erect marble tablets at the different 1898 campsites, terming the proposal a violation of the 1890 act establishing the park. Such markers, said Randolph, "would not only be an injustice to those patriotic men who offered their lives . . . [in 1863,] but would so confuse the present markings as to make them unintelligible to the student of history." [60] Nonetheless, in 1923 the powerful veteran groups managed to get a measure passed in Congress permitting "without cost to the United States the erection of monuments . . . to commemorate encampments of Spanish War organizations. . . ." [61] Randolph urged that the erection of such monuments be accomplished in a fashion "so as to preclude such encroachment on these battlefields." [62] Randolph's concerns were duly recognized, and it was decided that tablets for all the Spanish-American War camps in the park would be placed in a semi-circle at the north entrance. The arrangement would satisfy both the park's enabling legislation and the 1923 act authorizing the marking of the 1898 campgrounds. It also conformed with earlier regulations governing the location of monuments for those military organizations engaged in battle beyond the park boundaries. [63]

Preparation of the area for the Spanish-American War tablets was in progress early in 1927. In June the first tablet arrived from a post of United Spanish War Veterans in Iowa, [64] and in the following year a tablet to commemorate the First Vermont Infantry was approved. [65] Other state volunteer units that served in 1898 have since been memorialized in tablets located at the park entrance.

Few monuments were erected in the park after 1930. [66] There have occurred minor controversies over the relocation of various memorials, such as the unsuccessful plan of one group to move the New York Monument to Ireland's Brigade from its position below Ringgold to a more visible location 100 yards south. [67] During World War II there was some local sentiment for scrapping bronze from the monuments for defense purposes, but reason prevailed and this was not done. [68] A relocation project occurred in 1962 with the moving of the Iowa monument about thirty feet from its original site to permit the widening of U.S. Highway 27 at Rossville. Four years later a larger relocation program took place as 17 monuments, totaling 274 tons, were moved approximately 650 feet to make way for the rerouting of Highway 27. The work was accomplished by a Chattanooga house-moving firm. [69] In 1964 the State of Texas financed the raising of a monument to its soldiers who fought at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and in September, 1977, the latest monument was dedicated, honoring the Chickamauga service of Brigadier General Bushrod R. Johnson, C.S.A. [70]

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Last Updated: 01-Jun-2002