A Chickamauga Memorial

The Establishment of America's First Civil War National Military Park

  • Author(s): Smith, Timothy B.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2009-10-23
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Hardcover - Cloth: Price $43.00 | Buy Now

“Timothy B. Smith has produced yet another well-researched, engaging book about the fascinating history of Civil War battlefields. This time his subject is Chickamauga, both the largest and first-established of the nation’s Civil War parks. What happened after the battle and why is a well-crafted, compelling story.” —James Lee McDonough

A Chickamauga Memorial tells the full and fascinating story of how the country’s first federally preserved national military park came into being and how it paved the way for all that came afterwards, including preservation efforts today.

As Timothy B. Smith explains, most battlefield preservation and commemoration efforts before 1890 were done on a private and state level, with veterans’ groups and states marking unit positions on battlefields, most notably at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. In 1890, however, the federal government became involved on a large scale, ushering in a wave of battlefield preservation that would continue through the decades that followed.

The brainchild of Henry Van Ness Boynton, a Union officer and veteran of the battle, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park served multiple purposes as a commemorative memorial to the soldiers who had fought there as well as a military reservation for maneuver and study. As the former, Chickamauga played a prominent role in the reconciliation of the North and South, bringing together veterans from both sides. As the latter, the park played host to numerous military units during the Spanish American War as well as World Wars I and II. Perhaps the most important aspect, Smith contends, was the creation of historical memory in both. This process involved not only the historiography of the battles, but also how the battlefields themselves would be remembered, interpreted, and celebrated.

Timothy B. Smith teaches history at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He is the author of This Great Battlefield of Shiloh, The Untold Story of Shiloh, and The Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation.