January 28, 2012


We arrived in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, vicinity last night and set out this morning to visit Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.  In 1863, Union and Confederate forces clashed here in some of the bloodiest fighting of the Civil War.  The Union’s goal was to capture Chattanooga, a key rail center and the “Gateway to the Deep South.”  Although the Confederate army was victorious at Chickamauga in September, Union forces were victorious in renewed fighting in Chattanooga two months later and seized control of Chattanooga.

At the Chickamauga Battlefield visitor center, we learned that Chickamauga and Chattanooga was the first, and largest, national military park in the nation.  It was also the model for most national military and historical parks to come.  I had never given it much thought before, but I probably would have guessed that Gettysburg was the first park.  

The 1890 legislation that authorized four national military parks (the others were Shiloh, Gettysburg and Vicksburg) can also be considered the beginning of the Federal government’s role in the preservation of historic sites.  The legislation set forth four goals – preservation, education, commemoration and access.  This was also new to me, as I don’t recall this legislation ever being mentioned in any books I’ve studied on the history of historic preservation in the United States.  It goes to show you that there’s always something new to learn.

Commemoration is a major part of the experience at the park, and the driving tour took us by many of the countless monuments erected by state governments in honor of the military units that fought here.  Between 1893 and 1910, more than 1,400 commemorative features had been installed here.  It was interesting to see the variety of monuments on the battlefield and the ways in which the various states chose to commemorate their fallen troops.

Florida State Monument
Georgia State Monument
Alabama State Monument
2nd Ohio Infantry Monument
33rd Ohio Infantry Monument


  1. Wow! Great history lesson. Love A

  2. A, We've had so many great history lessons on this trip. It's almost like we're back in school! Sarah

  3. Heartbreaking but beautiful! I've been busy for a few days but am catching up now. :-) LV

  4. LV, We're happy that you are back and hope that you've been having some fun. Sarah