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|