Book Cover "The Origin & Evolution of the National Military Park Idea" by Ronald F. Lee 1973




General Observations

Monuments for
American Revolution Battlefields

The First Battlefield Parks - pgs
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Later Evolution of the National Military Park Idea





Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park.

Between 1890 and 1899 the Congress of the United States went well beyond the concept of monuments and authorized the establishment of four major battlefields of the Civil War as national military parks. In so doing, it laid one of several foundation stones for the national historic preservation policy and program we have today. These four battlefields were Chickamauga and Chattanooga authorized in 1890, Shiloh in 1894, Gettysburg in 1895, and Vicksburg in 1899. Antietam, which was marked beginning in 1890, was not yet a full-fledged national military park. Although in later years all these reservations came to be called national military parks, Chickamauga and Chattanooga and Gettysburg started out as national parks and remained so officially for many years. [15]

In a period when conservation was becoming popular, it was perhaps more than coincidence that during this same decade Congress also authorized establishment of the first four scenic national parks to follow creation of Yellowstone in 1872. These were Yosemite, Sequoia, and General Grant authorized in 1890, and Mount Rainier in 1899. The fact that one of these four western national parks was named after the leading general of the Union Army is an interesting reflection of the spirit of the times. In 1890, also, Congress authorized establishment of Rock Creek Park in the District of Columbia, one of the three earliest large metropolitan parks in the United States, comparable to Central Park in New York City and Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.

It was not possible to foresee in 1899 that in due course these natural and historic Federal reservations, together with others subsequently created, would be joined together in one National Park System. Nevertheless, the seeds of the future were present from the beginning.

Next Battlefields as National Possessions

The First Battlefield Parks - pgs
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