CRM Journal


Pilgrim Places: Civil War Battlefields, Historic Preservation, and America's First National Military Parks, 1863-1900

by Richard West Sellars


Today, well over a century after the Civil War ended in 1865, it is difficult to imagine the battlefields of Antietam, Vicksburg, Shiloh, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga had they been neglected, instead of preserved as military parks. As compelling historic landscapes of great natural beauty and public interest, these early military parks (established by Congress in the 1890s and transferred from the United States War Department to the National Park Service in 1933) have been familiar to generations of Americans. Their status as preserved parks is far different from what would have ensued had they been left to the whims and fluctuations of local economics and developmental sprawl, with only a military cemetery and perhaps one or two monuments nearby. Certainly, had these battlefields not been protected, the battles themselves would still have been intensively remembered, analyzed, and debated in countless history books, classrooms, living rooms, barrooms, and other venues. But there would have been little, if any, protected land or contemplative space in which to tell the public that these are the fields upon which horrific combat occurred—battles that bore directly on the perpetuation of the nation as a whole, and on the very nature of human rights in America.

Yet in the final decade of the 19th century, Congress mandated that these battlefields be set aside as military parks to be preserved for the American public. The sites became major icons of the nation's historic past, to which millions of people have traveled, many as pilgrims, and many making repeated visits—ritualistic treks to hallowed shrines. How, then, did these battlefields, among the most important of the Civil War, become the nation's first national military parks?

Figure 1: A dead young Confederate soldier beside the fresh grave of a Union officer.

Figure 1. Following the bloodiest day of the Civil War, September 17, 1862, at Antietam, the Confederate army retreated across the Potomac River with little time to bury its dead, including this young Southerner who lies beside the fresh grave of a Union officer in a Maryland landscape laid waste by battle. (Courtesy of Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.)

Gettysburg and the Stratigraphy of History

For the first three days of July 1863, more than 170,000 soldiers of the United States Army (the Union army) and the Confederacy fought a bloody and decisive battle around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, ending with a Union victory and with more than 51,000 killed, wounded, and missing. Later that month, less than three weeks after the battle, David McConaughy, a local attorney, began efforts to buy small segments of the battlefield, where grim evidence of combat still lay on the devastated landscape, and the stench of death from both soldiers and horses remained in the air. A long-time resident and civic leader in Gettysburg, McConaughy was seeking to preserve the sites and protect them from possible desecration and land speculation prompted by the intense interest in the battle. He also acquired a small segment of the battleground that seemed appropriate as a burial site for those soldiers of the Union army whose bodies would not be carried back to their home towns or buried elsewhere. The plan to establish a military cemetery simultaneously gained support from other influential individuals and would soon meet with success. But it was McConaughy who took the initial step that would ultimately lead to preserving extensive portions of the battlefield specifically for their historical significance.

McConaughy later recalled that this idea had come to him "immediately after the battle." And as early as July 25, he wrote to Pennsylvania governor Andrew Curtin, declaring his intentions. He recommended entrusting the battlefield to the public: that the citizens of Pennsylvania should purchase it so that "they may participate in the tenure of the sacred grounds of the Battlefield, by contributing to its actual cost." By then, McConaughy had secured agreements to buy portions of renowned combat sites such as Little Round Top and Culp's Hill. In August, he led in the creation of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association to oversee the acquisition and protection of the battleground. (He would later sell the lands he had purchased to the cemetery and to the Memorial Association, at no personal profit.) Also in August, he reiterated what he had told Governor Curtin, that there could be "no more fitting and expressive memorial of the heroic valor and signal triumphs of our army...than the battlefield itself, with its natural and artificial defen[s]es, preserved and perpetuated in the exact form and condition they presented during the battle."(1) David McConaughy's decisive response to the battle was pivotal: It marked the pioneer effort in the long and complex history of the preservation of America's Civil War battlefields that has continued through the many decades since July 1863.

With the support of the State of Pennsylvania, the Memorial Association's purchase of battlefield lands got under way, albeit slowly. Acquisition of land specifically intended for the military cemetery continued as well, beyond what McConaughy had originally purchased for that purpose. At Gettysburg, despite the carnage and chaotic disarray on the battlefield after the fighting ended, care for the dead and wounded could be handled with relatively moderate disruption and delay, given the Confederate army's retreat south. Re-burial of Union soldiers' bodies lying in scattered, temporary graves began by late October in the military cemetery. And on November 19, President Abraham Lincoln gave his dedication speech for the new cemetery.

Surely the most famous public address in American history, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address became the symbolic touchstone for the remarkable succession of commemorative activities that would follow at the battlefield. In his brief comments, Lincoln stated what he believed to be an "altogether fitting and proper" response of the living: to dedicate a portion of the battlefield as a burying ground for the soldiers who sacrificed their lives at Gettysburg to preserve the nation. Lincoln then added, "But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."(2) Yet in attending the dedication and giving his address, Lincoln himself participated in—and helped initiate—a new era of history at the battlefield, one in which both his and future generations would perpetuate the dedication, consecration, and hallowedness of the site.

The history of the Battle of Gettysburg differs from the history of Gettysburg Battlefield. The first is military history—the cataclysmic battle itself, when Union forces thwarted the Southern invasion of Northern territory in south-central Pennsylvania. The second—the complex array of activities that have taken place on the battlefield in the long aftermath of the fighting—is largely commemorative history: this country's efforts to perpetuate and strengthen the national remembrance of Gettysburg, including McConaughy's preservation endeavors, the cemetery dedication, and Lincoln's address. After dedication of the cemetery, the nation's response to the battle continued, through such efforts as acquiring greater portions of the field of battle, holding veterans' reunions and encampments, erecting monuments, and preserving and interpreting the battlefield for the American people. Most of these activities have continued into the 21st century.

In the deep "stratigraphy" of history at Gettysburg Battlefield—decade after decade, layer after layer, of commemorative activity recurring at this renowned place—no other single event holds greater significance than Lincoln's address contemplating the meaning of the Battle of Gettysburg and of the Civil War. And in April 1864—well before the war ended—commemoration at the battlefield was further sanctioned when the State of Pennsylvania granted a charter to the already established Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association to oversee and care for the field of battle. The charter's declaration "to hold and preserve the battle-grounds of Gettysburg...with the natural and artificial defenses, as they were at the time of said battle," and to perpetuate remembrance of the battle through "such memorial structures as a generous and patriotic people may aid to erect" very much reflected McConaughy's own convictions, as stated the previous summer.(3) The act chartering the nonprofit Memorial Association and authorizing its acquisition, preservation, and memorialization of the battlefield was passed in a remarkably short period of time—about 10 months after the battle itself. It set a course toward common, nonprofit ownership of the battlefield for patriotic inspiration and education.

Moreover, as battlefield commemoration evolved, the town of Gettysburg prospered economically from the public's increasing desire to visit the site.  Almost immediately after the fighting ended, the hundreds of people who poured into the area to seek missing relatives or assist with the wounded and dead created further chaos in and around the town. But many who came were simply curious about the suddenly famous battlefield, and their visits initiated a rudimentary tourism that would evolve and greatly increase over the years. As soon as they could, entrepreneurs from Gettysburg and elsewhere began to profit from the crowds, marketing such necessities as room and board, in addition to selling guided tours, battlefield relics, and other souvenirs. Gettysburg's tourism would expand in the years after the war, secured by the fame of the battlefield, but also re-enforced by such added attractions as new hotels, a spa, and a large amusement area known as Round Top Park. African American tourists joined the crowds at Gettysburg beginning in the 1880s. And improved rail service to Gettysburg in 1884 greatly enhanced access from both the North and South, further increasing tourism. One guidebook estimated that 150,000 visitors came in the first two years after the new rail service began.(4)

Located in Pennsylvania, far from the main theaters of war, and the site of a critical and dramatic Union victory that repulsed the invasion of the North by the Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee, the battlefield at Gettysburg clearly had the potential to inspire creation of a shrine to the valor and sacrifices of Union troops. The conditions were just right: Gettysburg quickly emerged as a hallowed landscape for the North, as it ultimately would for the nation as a whole.(Figure 2) In the beginning, the commemoration at Gettysburg was strictly limited to recognizing the Northern victory by preserving only Union battle lines and key positions. It was of course unthinkable to preserve battle positions of the Rebel army, with whom war was still raging.

Figure 2: Monuments at the "High Water Mark of the Confederacy."

Figure 2. Among the hundreds of monuments at Gettysburg, these stand near the Copse of Trees on the right—the apex of the famed Pickett’s Charge, the Confederate assault against massed Union forces on the final day of the battle. This site, long known as the "High Water Mark of the Confederacy," is shown in a ca. 1913 image. (Courtesy of Gettysburg National Military Park.)

The Memorial Association's many commemorative activities would provide a singularly important example for other Civil War battlefields, as thousands of veterans backed by their national, state, and local organizations would, especially in the 1890s, initiate similar efforts to preserve sites of other major engagements. By that time, the North and South were gradually reconciling their differences in the aftermath of a bitter and bloody war that took the lives of more than 600,000 combatants. This growing sectional harmony brought about greater injustice against former slaves. But with reconciliation underway, the South would join in the battlefield commemoration.

The Civil War remains perhaps the most compelling episode in American history, but especially during the latter decades of the 19th century it was an overwhelmingly dominant historical presence that deeply impacted the lives and thoughts of millions of Americans. In the century's last decade, Congress responded to pressure from veterans and their many supporters, both North and South, by establishing five military parks and placing them under War Department administration for preservation and memorialization—actions intended to serve the greater public interest. Known also as battlefield parks, these areas included Chickamauga and Chattanooga (administratively combined by the congressional legislation), in Georgia and Tennessee, in 1890; Antietam, near the village of Sharpsburg, Maryland, also in 1890; Shiloh, in southwestern Tennessee, in 1894; Gettysburg, transferred from the Memorial Association to the Federal Government in 1895; and Vicksburg, in Mississippi, in 1899.(5) Of these battlefields set aside for commemorative preservation, the South had won only at Chickamauga.

Beginning at Gettysburg even during the war and rapidly accelerating in the 1890s, the efforts to preserve the first five Civil War military parks constituted by far the most intensive and widespread historic preservation activity in the United States through the 19th century. The battlefield parks substantially broadened the scope of preservation.

Background: Pre-Civil War Preservation Endeavors

The event in American history prior to the Civil War that had the most potential to inspire the preservation of historic places was the American Revolution. Yet, between the Revolution and the Civil War, historic site preservation in America was limited and sporadic. The efforts that were made focused principally on the Revolution and its heroes, but also on the early national period. Even with a growing railway system, poor highways and roads still hindered travel; thus, for most Americans, commemoration of historic sites was mainly a local activity.

Celebrations of historic events and persons (especially at the countless gatherings held on the Fourth of July) included parades, patriotic speeches, and, at times, the dedication of monuments in cities and towns. It is significant also that the Federal Government—which was far less powerful than it would become during and after the Civil War—was uncertain about the need for, and the constitutionality of, preserving historic sites or erecting monuments in the new republic at government expense. It therefore restricted its involvement, leaving most proposals to state or local entities, whether public or private. The State of Pennsylvania, for example, had plans to demolish Independence Hall—where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and drawn up—to make way for new construction. But the City of Philadelphia (the local, not the national government) interceded in 1818 and purchased the building and its grounds out of patriotic concern.

During the 19th century, George Washington, revered hero of the Revolution and first president of the United States, received extraordinary public acclaim, which resulted in the preservation of sites associated with his life and career. In 1850, following extended negotiations, the State of New York established as a historic-house museum the Hasbrouck House in the lower Hudson Valley—General Washington's headquarters during the latter part of the war. Mount Vernon, Washington's home along the Potomac River and the most famous site associated with his personal life, became the property of a private organization, the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union. Ann Pamela Cunningham, a determined Charlestonian, founded the Association in 1853 to gain nationwide support to purchase this site, which was accomplished in 1858. The Ladies' Association's success with Mount Vernon ranks as the nation's most notable historic preservation effort in the antebellum era.(6)

Among the efforts of pre-Civil War Americans to commemorate their history, erecting monuments to honor and preserve the memory of important events and persons was at times viewed as being a more suitable alternative than acquiring and maintaining a historic building and its surrounding lands. Only a few days after the defeat of the British army at Yorktown in October 1781, the Continental Congress passed a motion calling for a monument to be built on the Yorktown battle site to commemorate the French alliance with the colonies and the American victory over the British. The Congress, however, being very short of funds and focusing on the post-Revolutionary War situation, did not appropriate monies for the monument. Interest eventually waned, and construction did not get under way until a century later, with the laying of the cornerstone for the Yorktown Victory Monument during the centennial celebration in 1881. The tall, ornate granite monument was completed three years later. The effort to erect a monument to commemorate the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill, in the Boston area, was not begun until shortly before the 50th anniversary of the battle, but unlike Yorktown it did not have to wait a century for completion. Only two years after the 1823 founding of the Bunker Hill Monument Association to spearhead the project, the cornerstone was laid by the aging Marquis de Lafayette, esteemed French hero of the American Revolution. Delayed by funding shortages and other factors, completion of the monument came in 1843. Construction of the Washington Monument in the nation's capital also encountered lengthy delays, including the Civil War. Begun in 1848, the giant obelisk was not completed until 1885.(7)

These and other commemorative activities did not reflect any intense interest on the part of 19th-century Americans in the physical preservation and commemoration of historic sites. Only after extended delays were the efforts with the Yorktown and Washington monuments successful. The lengthy struggle in Boston to preserve the home of John Hancock, the revered patriot and signer of the Declaration of Independence, failed, and the building was demolished. Even the State of Tennessee's acquisition in the 1850s of The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home near Nashville, did not guarantee preservation. The State considered selling the house and grounds long before the property finally gained secure preservation status by about the early 20th century. Partly because of cost considerations, Congress had rejected petitions to purchase Mount Vernon before the Ladies' Association was formed. And despite national adoration of George Washington, numerous obstacles (including inadequate funding) delayed the Association's purchase of the property for about half of a decade. Overall, during much of the century, a lack of funding and commitment undercut many preservation efforts, indicating a general indifference toward historic sites.(8)

Nevertheless, during the 19th century, an important concept gradually gained acceptance: That, in order to protect historic sites deemed especially significant, it might be necessary to resort to a special type of ownership (a public, or some other kind of shared, or group, ownership, such as a society or association) specifically dedicated to preservation. Such broad-based, cooperative arrangements could serve as a means of preventing a site from being subject to, and perhaps destroyed as a result of, the whims of individuals and the fluctuations of the open market. Private, individually owned and preserved historic sites, some exhibited to the public (but vast numbers of them preserved because of personal or family interest alone), would become a widespread, enduring, and critically important aspect of American historic preservation. Still, the State of New York's preservation of the Hasbrouck House, and especially the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association's successful endeavors, exemplified the potential of group ownership, both public and private, in helping to secure enduring preservation commitments.

As one supporter stated during the effort to preserve Mount Vernon, the revered home and nearby grave of the Revolutionary War hero and first president should not be "subject to the uncertainties and transfers of individual fortune." The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, as a remarkably enterprising and broad-based organization determined to preserve Washington's home and grave site, held the promise of a dedication to its cause that could remain steadfast well beyond one or two generations. Living up to this promise meant that the Ladies' Association would become an acclaimed archetype of a successful, cooperative preservation organization.

Furthermore, the Ladies' Association's goals focused squarely on serving the greater public good: it would make the home and grounds accessible to the public, in the belief that generations of people might visit the site and draw inspiration from Washington's life that would foster virtuous citizenship, benefiting the entire nation. Explicitly revealing the concern for a guarantee of public access, a collection of correspondence relating to the Ladies' Association's effort to acquire Mount Vernon was entitled, "Documents Relating to the Proposed Purchase of Mount Vernon by the Citizens of the United States, in Order that They May at All Times Have a Legal and Indisputable Right to Visit the Grounds, Mansion and Tomb of Washington."(9)

Similarly, concerns for public access and benefit, ensured by dedicated common ownership, would become key factors underlying the Civil War battlefield preservation movement in the latter decades of the century. The Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, the first organizational effort to preserve and commemorate a Civil War battlefield, clearly intended to render the battleground accessible to the people and thereby serve the public good through patriotic inspiration and education. Moreover, battlefield preservation came to involve local and state governments, and ultimately the Federal Government, as representatives of the collective citizenry in the direct ownership and administration of selected historic places.

Civil War Battlefield Monuments and Cemeteries

As with the southern Pennsylvania countryside surrounding the town of Gettysburg, the struggles between the United States and Confederate armies from 1861 to 1865 often brought war to beautiful places, with many battles fought in the pastoral landscapes of eastern, southern, and middle America—in rolling fields and woods, along rivers and streams, among farmsteads, and often in or near villages, towns, or cities. Following the furious, convulsive battles, the armies often moved on toward other engagements, or to reassess and rebuild. They left behind landscapes devestated by the violence and destruction of war, yet suddenly imbued with meanings more profound than mere pastoral beauty. The battlefields would no longer be taken for granted as ordinary fields and wooded lands. For millions of Americans, intense emotions focused on these sites, so that while local farmers and villagers sought to recover from the devastation, the battlegrounds, in effect, lay awaiting formal recognition, perhaps sooner or later to be publicly dedicated, consecrated, and hallowed. Once the scenes of horrendous bloodletting, the preserved battlefield parks, green and spreading across countrysides ornamented with monuments, would come to form an enduring, ironic juxtaposition of war and beauty, forever paradoxical.

And the carefully tended battlefields remain forever beguiling: The tranquil, monumented military parks mask the horror of what happened there. Walt Whitman, whose poetry and prose include what are arguably the finest descriptions of the effects of Civil War battles on individual soldiers, wrote that the whole fratricidal affair seemed "like a great slaughter house...the men mutually butchering each other." He later asserted that the Civil War was "about nine hundred and ninety-nine parts diarrhea to one part glory." Having spent much of the war nursing terribly wounded soldiers in the Washington military hospitals and seeing sick and dying men with worm-infested battle wounds and amputations that had infected and required additional cutting, Whitman knew well the grisly costs of battle. The poet encountered many soldiers who seemed demented and wandered in a daze about the hospital wards. To him, they had "suffered too much," and it was perhaps best that they were "out of their senses." To the unsuspecting person, then, the serene, monumented battlefields can indeed belie the appalling bloodletting that took place there. Yet from the very first, it was intended that the battlegrounds become peaceful, memorial parks—each, in effect, a "pilgrim-place," as an early Gettysburg supporter put it.(10)

The historical significance of the first five Civil War battlefield parks was undeniably as the scenes of intense and pivotal combat, but by the early 20th century they also marked the nation's first true commitment to commemorating historic places and preserving their historic features and character. Restoration of the battle scenes, such as maintaining historic roads, forests, fields, and defensive earthworks, was underway, to varying degrees, at the battlefield parks. The parks were also becoming extensively memorialized with sizable monuments and many smaller stone markers, along with troop-position tablets (mostly cast iron and mounted on posts) tracing the course of battle and honoring the men who fought there. Erected mainly in the early decades of each park's existence, the monuments, markers, and tablets in the five military parks established in the 1890s exist today in astonishingly large numbers. The totals include more than 1,400 at Gettysburg, approximately 1,400 at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and more than 1,300 at Vicksburg. Following these are Shiloh, with more than 600, and Antietam with more than 400. The overall total for the five battlefields is nearly 5,200.(11) Although tablets and markers comprise the greatest portion of these totals, the battlefields have become richly ornamented with memorial sculpture, including many large, impressive monuments. Altogether, they are the most striking visual features of the military parks, and they provide the chief physical manifestation of the battlefields' hallowedness. The early Civil War military parks are among the most monumented battlefields in the world.

Virtually all of the monuments were stylistically derivative, many inspired by classical or renaissance memorial architecture, with huge numbers of them portraying standing soldiers, equestrian figures, or men in battle action. They recall heroism, the physical intensity of battle, and grief—rather than, for instance, the emancipation of the slaves, a major result of the battles and the war. From early on, some critics have judged the monuments to be too traditional and noted that many were essentially mass-produced by contractors.(12) Nevertheless, with veterans themselves directly involved in the origin and evolution of the Civil War battlefield memorialization movement, the earlier monuments reflect the sentiments of the very men who fought there. And the veterans were highly unlikely to be artistically avant-garde; rather, they tended to follow the styles and tastes of the time.

Even while the war was ongoing, soldiers erected several monuments on battlefields. In early September 1861, less than five months after the April 12th firing on Fort Sumter, Confederate soldiers erected the first Civil War battlefield monument, at the site of the Battle of Manassas, near the stream known as Bull Run, in Virginia. There, in July, the Confederates had surprised the United States forces (and the Northern public) with a stunning victory. Little more than six weeks later, the 8th Georgia Infantry erected a marble obelisk of modest height to honor their fallen leader, Colonel Francis S. Bartow. (Only the monument's stone base has survived; the marble obelisk disappeared possibly even before the second battle at Manassas took place in August 1862.)

The Union army erected two battlefield monuments during the war. Still standing is the Hazen monument—the oldest intact Civil War battlefield monument—at Stones River National Battlefield, near the middle-Tennessee town of Murfreesboro. There, in a savage battle in late 1862 and early 1863, Northern troops forced a Confederate retreat. In about June 1863, members of Colonel William B. Hazen's brigade (men from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky) began erecting a sizable cut-limestone monument to honor their fallen comrades in the very area where they had fought and died. The monument was located in a small cemetery that held the remains of the brigade's casualties. The Union army's other wartime monument, a marble obelisk, was erected on the battlefield at Vicksburg by occupying troops on July 4, 1864, to commemorate the first anniversary of the Confederate surrender of this strategic city.(13)

At Stones River, the Hazen monument's location in the brigade cemetery at the scene of combat testifies to the often direct connections that would evolve between military cemeteries and preserved military parks. Each of the battles had concluded with dead and wounded from both sides scattered over the countryside, along with many fresh graves containing either completely or partially buried bodies—the hurried work of comrades or special ad hoc burial details. (The wounded, many of whom died, were cared for in temporary field hospitals, including tents, homes, and other public and private buildings.) Reacting to growing public concern about the frequently disorganized handling of the Union dead, Congress, in July 1862, passed legislation authorizing "national cemeteries" and the purchase of land for them wherever "expedient." By the end of 1862, the army had designated 12 national cemeteries, principally located where Northern military personnel were or had previously been concentrated—whether at battlefields (Mill Springs, Kentucky, for instance); near army hospitals and encampments (such as in Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia); or at military posts (such as Fort Leavenworth in Kansas). All were administered by the War Department. These newly created military cemeteries were predecessors to those that would be established on other battlefields, such as Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Antietam.(14)

At Gettysburg, the site selected for a military burial ground lay adjacent to the city's existing Evergreen Cemetery and along a portion of the Union battle lines on the slopes of Cemetery Hill. There, Northern forces, in desperate combat, at times hand-to-hand, had repulsed a major Confederate assault. Locating the military cemetery where Northern troops had scored a crucial victory surely heightened the symbolism and the sense of consecration and hallowedness that Lincoln reflected upon in articulating the Union cause and the meaning of the war, and in validating the "altogether fitting and proper" purpose of battlefield cemeteries.

During and after the 1863 siege of Vicksburg, the Union army hastily buried thousands of its soldiers killed during the campaign. The burials, some in mass graves, were in the immediate vicinity of the siege or were scattered throughout the extensive countryside in Mississippi and in the Louisiana parishes across the Mississippi River where the campaign took place. In the chaos of battle, the army kept few burial records, left many graves unmarked, and did little to arrange for proper re-burial. At Vicksburg, as elsewhere, erosion often uncovered the bodies, making them even more vulnerable to vultures, hogs, and other scavengers. An official report in May 1866 noted that, as the Mississippi had shifted its course or spread out into the Louisiana floodplains, it carried downriver many bodies, which "floated to the ocean in their coffins or buried in the sand beneath [the river's] waters." After delays resulting from wartime pressures and protracted deliberations about where to locate an official burial ground (even New Orleans was considered), the national cemetery at Vicksburg was established in 1866, and the re-burial efforts moved toward completion.(15)(Figure 3)

Figure 3: Vicksburg National Cemetery.

Figure 3. The national cemetery concept emerged during the Civil War to provide for the proper care of thousands of Union dead. Like formal military cemeteries on other Civil War battlefields, Vicksburg National Cemetery, established in 1866 and shown here ca. 1905, was gracefully landscaped to honor the Union soldiers and sailors buried there. Confederate dead were interred elsewhere, many of them in the Vicksburg city cemetery. (Courtesy of Vicksburg National Military Park.)

Antietam National Cemetery was officially dedicated on September 17, 1867, the fifth anniversary of the battle. Following Antietam's one-day holocaust, which resulted in more deaths (estimated between 6,300 and 6,500) than on any other single day of the war, most of the dead were buried in scattered locations on the field of battle, where they remained for several years. In 1864, the State of Maryland authorized the purchase of land for a cemetery. A site was selected on a low promontory situated along one of the Confederate battle lines, and re-burial of remains from Antietam and nearby engagements began in late 1866. Following contentious debate (Maryland was a border state with popular allegiance sharply divided between the North and South), it was decided that only Union dead would be buried in the new cemetery. Re-burial of Confederate dead would come later, and elsewhere.(16)

After the war ended, a systematic effort to care for the Northern dead led to the creation of many more military cemeteries, most of them established under the authority of congressional legislation approved in February 1867. This legislation strengthened the 1862 legal foundation for national cemeteries—for instance, by reauthorizing the purchase of lands needed for burying places; providing for the use of the government's power of eminent domain when necessary for acquiring private lands; and calling for the reimbursement of owners whose lands had been, or would be, expropriated for military cemetery sites. The total number of national cemeteries rose from 14 at the end of the war to 73 by 1870, when the re-burial program for Union soldiers was considered essentially completed. Although many of the new official burial grounds were on battlefields or military posts, others were part of existing private or city cemeteries. Also, two prominent battlefield cemeteries that had been created and managed by states were transferred to the War Department: Pennsylvania ceded the Gettysburg cemetery in 1872, and Maryland transferred the Antietam cemetery five years later.(17)

Of the five battlefield parks established in the 1890s, all would either adjoin or be near military cemeteries. Even as they were being established and developed, the national cemeteries stood out as hallowed commemorative sites. And they provided an early and tangible intimation that the surrounding battlefield landscapes were also hallowed places, perhaps in time to be officially recognized. The national cemeteries were thus precursors to the far larger military parks—which themselves were like cemeteries in that they still held many unfound bodies.

The first of the truly large memorials on Civil War battlefields were two imposing monuments erected in national cemeteries—one at Gettysburg, the other at Antietam. In 1864, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association requested design proposals for a "Soldiers' National Monument" to be placed in the cemetery's central space, as intended in the original landscape plan. The selected design featured a tall column topped by the figure of Liberty, and a large base with figures representing War, Peace, History, and Plenty. The monument was formally dedicated in 1869. At Antietam, plans for the national cemetery also included a central space for a monument—a design feature apparently inspired by the Gettysburg cemetery plan. The contract was let in 1871 for the monument—a large, off-white granite statue of a United States Army enlisted man. Insufficient funding helped delay its completion, so that formal dedication of the "Soldiers' Monument" did not occur until 1880, on the 18th anniversary of the battle.(18) Like the monuments erected during the war itself, those erected within the Gettysburg and Antietam national cemeteries were harbingers of the extensive memorialization that would in time take place in the early military parks.

In the aftermath of Union victories, most Confederate bodies were buried individually or in mass graves on the fields of battle, and most did not receive formal burials until much later. Such was the case at Gettysburg, where huge numbers of Confederate dead lay in mass graves until the early 1870s, given the Northern officials' strict prohibition of Rebel burials in the military cemetery—a restriction put in place at other Union cemeteries located on battlefields. At Shiloh, hundreds of Southern dead were buried together in trenches. (Some of these mass burials, although mentioned in official reports, have never been located.) Early in the war, well before the siege of Vicksburg got under way, the Confederate army began burying its dead in a special section of Cedar Hill, the Vicksburg city cemetery, which ultimately held several thousand military graves. And following the Confederate victory at Chickamauga, a somewhat systematic attempt to care for the bodies of Southern soldiers was disrupted by the Northern victory at nearby Chattanooga about two months later. In many instances, however, the Confederate dead were disinterred and moved by local people or by the soldiers' families for formal burial in cemeteries all across the South, including town and churchyard cemeteries. Much of this took place after the war and through the efforts of well-organized women's memorial organizations and other concerned groups and individuals.(19)

At Antietam, a concerted effort to remove hastily buried Rebel dead from the field of battle did not get under way until the early 1870s, about a decade after the battle. Then, over a period of several years, those remains that could be found were buried in nearby Hagerstown, Maryland. Concern that Antietam National Cemetery should in no way honor the South was made especially clear by the extended debate over "Lee's Rock," one of several low-lying limestone outcrops in the cemetery. Located on a high point along Confederate lines, the rock provided a vantage point that, reportedly, Robert E. Lee used to observe parts of the battle. After the war, the rock became a curiosity and a minor Southern icon. But Northerners viewed it as an intrusion into a Union shrine, and wanted this reminder of the Rebel army removed. The final decision came in 1868—to take away all rock outcrops in the cemetery.(20) Still, this comprehensive solution makes the removal of Lee's Rock seem like an act of purification, erasing even the mere suggestion of Southern presence in the national cemetery.

Reunions, Reconciliation, and Veterans' Interest in Military Parks

Once the national cemeteries were established, they were effectively the only areas of the battlefields in a condition adequate to receive the public in any numbers, and they became the focal points for official ceremonies and other formal acts of remembrance. Most widely observed was Decoration Day, begun at about the end of the war in response to the massive loss of life suffered during the four-year conflict. Known in the South as Confederate Decoration Day (and ultimately, nationwide, as Memorial Day), this special time of remembrance came to be regularly observed on battlefields and in cities and towns throughout the North and South.(21)

As remembrance ceremonies spread across the United States and as battlefield tourism grew in the years after the war, another type of gathering also gradually got underway: the veterans' reunions. Usually held on the anniversary of a particular battle, or on Decoration Day, these reunions began early on in communities around the country. They were initiated by local or state veterans' groups, or by larger, more broadly based veterans' associations that formed after the war in both Northern and Southern states. Chief among many such associations in the North was the Grand Army of the Republic, founded in 1866 in Springfield, Illinois. Aided by, but sometimes in competition with, other Union veterans' organizations, such as the Society for the Army of the Tennessee and the Society for the Army of the Potomac, the Grand Army did not reach its period of greatest influence until the late 1870s. Due mainly to extremely difficult conditions in the postwar South, Confederate veterans organized more slowly —for instance, the establishment of the Association of the Army of Northern Virginia occurred in 1870, five years after the war. Others followed, including the United Confederate Veterans, established in 1889 and ultimately becoming the most influential Southern veterans' association. These organizations were supported by a number of women's patriotic groups, such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy and, in the North, the Woman's Relief Corps.(22)

Gettysburg, much as it did with national cemeteries and other commemorative efforts, played a leading role in the emergence of veterans' reunions on the battlefields. For some time after the war, few reunions were held on any battlefield, given the vivid recollections of bloodletting, the veterans' need to re-establish their lives and improve their fortunes, and the expense and logistics of traveling across country to out-of-the-way battle sites. In the summer of 1869, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association hosted a well-attended reunion of officers of the Army of the Potomac. Yet, reunions held at the battlefield in the early and mid-1870s, and open to Union veterans of any rank, attracted few. More successful was a reunion in 1878 sponsored by the Grand Army of the Republic. Two years later, the Grand Army gained political control of the Memorial Association, giving the Gettysburg organization a much stronger national base. The Memorial Association then began promoting annual reunions, including successful week-long gatherings on the battlefield between 1880 and 1894. These reunions included huge encampments: tenting again on the battlefield, with comradery such as songfests, patriotic speeches, renewal of friendships, and much reminiscing—war stories told and retold.(23)

The growing attendance at reunions in the 1880s increased interest in transforming Gettysburg into a fully developed military park, much as had been envisioned in the 1864 charter of the Memorial Association. Such features as monuments, avenues, and fences were to be located at, or near, key Union battle positions. By the end of the 1870s, however, little development had taken place, and the purchase of major sites by the Memorial Association had proceeded very slowly. But by the mid-1880s, with the 25th anniversary of the battle approaching, and with the Grand Army of the Republic's backing, the Memorial Association was re-energized and revived its original concept of a monumented battlefield. It encouraged new monuments to commemorate prominent officers and the many army units that fought at Gettysburg, as well as each of the Northern states whose men made up those units. Memorialization on the battlefield escalated during the last half of the decade. For example, in 1888, the 25th anniversary year, the veterans dedicated almost 100 regimental monuments. The decision to allow large numbers of monuments and markers at Gettysburg stands as a landmark in that it set a precedent for extensive memorialization in the other early military parks.

In addition, by the 1890s, with greatly improved transportation and expanded middle-class leisure travel, Gettysburg Battlefield had become one of America's first nationwide historic destination sites for tourists.(24) In retrospect at least, the crush of tourism and entertainment attractions that flooded into the Gettysburg area in the years after the war demonstrated a need for a protected park to prevent the onslaught of economic development from overwhelming a historic shrine. At Gettysburg, the connections that had developed between tourism and the historic battlefield foreshadowed similar relationships that would be a continuous and important factor in many future historic preservation endeavors, both public and private.

Surely during the Civil War, the vast majority of soldiers at Gettysburg and elsewhere were strangers on the land—recent arrivals to the different scenes of battle and unfamiliar with the overall landscapes in which they were fighting, except perhaps during extended sieges. In most instances they had lived hundreds of miles away, had rarely traveled, and were geographically unlearned—thus many would have been disoriented beyond their most immediate surroundings, a situation almost certainly exacerbated by the confusion of battle. And most soldiers were moved quickly out of an area and on toward other engagements. The creating, studying, and marking of a battlefield park should therefore be viewed as not only a commemorative effort, but also as an attempt to impose order on the past, on landscapes of conflict and confusion —a means of enabling veterans of a battle, students of military affairs, and the American public to comprehend the overall sweep of combat, and the strategies and tactics involved.

Accurate placement of monuments, markers, and tablets required thorough historical research and mapping of a battleground, which was no easy task. The leading historian at Gettysburg was John Bachelder, an artist and illustrator who had closely studied earlier battles and arrived at Gettysburg only a few days after the fighting concluded. Bachelder's in-depth investigation of the battle area extended over a period of 31 years, until his death in 1894. In the process, he used his accumulating knowledge to prepare educational guidebooks and troop-movement maps to sell to the visiting public. In 1880, his intensive research and mapping of the battlefield benefited from a congressional appropriation of $50,000 to determine historically accurate locations of principal troop positions and movements during the battle, which encompassed extensive terrain. Similar to what would be done at other battlefields, this survey was carried on in collaboration with hundreds of veterans and other interested individuals. Their research directly influenced the positioning of monuments, markers, and tablets, and the routing of avenues for public access to the principal sites and their monuments.(25)

Historical accuracy was of great importance; and, not infrequently, veterans hotly disputed field research conclusions. Shiloh, for example, experienced a number of protracted, highly contentious arguments over the positioning of monuments and tablets. Two Iowa units even disagreed over what time of day they had occupied certain terrain on the battleground—the time, to be inscribed on the monuments, being a matter of status and pride to the units' veterans. This dispute lasted several years and involved appeals to the secretary of war before a settlement was finally reached. Similar disputes occurred at the other battlefield parks. At Gettysburg, the positioning of one monument was litigated all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court: In 1891, the Court ruled against the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, granting the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry the right to place its monument in a front-line position, where its veterans insisted they should be honored for their role in confronting Pickett's Charge on the climactic day of the battle.(26)

Significantly, during the 1880s the South gradually became involved in commemoration at Gettysburg. As initially practiced at the battlefield, the marking and preserving of only Union positions presented a one-sided view of what took place there, confusing anyone not familiar with the shifting and complex three-day struggle and the unmarked positions of Confederate troops. The Memorial Association, firmly dedicated to commemorating the Union army's victory at Gettysburg, did little to encourage participation by former Rebels until about two decades after the battle. Four ex-Confederate officers, including General Robert E. Lee, were, however, invited to attend the 1869 Union officers' reunion at Gettysburg and advise on the location of Southern battle positions. Lee declined the invitation; and with minimal Southern involvement no sustained effort to commemorate the Southern army ensued.

Beginning in the early 1880s, what became known as Blue-Gray reunions were held on battlefields and in cities and towns around the country, bringing Union veterans into periodic social contact with their former adversaries from the South. Southern participation in the Gettysburg reunions increased considerably during this decade. At the 1888 reunion marking the 25th anniversary of the battle, both sides collaborated in a re-enactment of Pickett's Charge (one of the earliest in an amazing succession of remembrance rituals at the site of this renowned Civil War engagement). The former Confederate troops made their way in carriages across the open field toward Union veterans waiting near the stone wall and the Copse of Trees that marked the climax of the Southern charge. The cheering and handshaking when they met reflected the ongoing reconciliation between Northern and Southern veterans.(27)

Yet, the gathering at the Copse of Trees reflected more than just reconciliation among veterans. Across the country, attitudes in both North and South were shifting from the bitterness and hatred of war and the postwar Reconstruction period toward a reconciliation between the white populations of the two sections. The existence of slavery in the South had been a malignant, festering sore for the nation, and the most fundamentally divisive issue between the North and South as they edged toward war. Yet, as the war receded into the past, the North relented, opening the way for the end of Reconstruction and the move toward reconciliation. In so doing, white Northerners revealed a widespread (but not universal) indifference to racial concerns, and they abandoned the African American population in the South to the mercy of those who had only recently held them as slaves. This situation opened the way for intensified discrimination against, and subjugation of, recently freed black citizens of the United States. In the midst of such fateful developments, the North-South rapprochement fostered a return to the battlefields by both Union and Confederate veterans—an echo of the past, but this time for remembrance and reconciliation, not combat.(28)

The Blue-Gray reunions, with the co-mingling of one-time foes who were becoming increasingly cordial, moved Southerners toward the idea of battlefield preservation and development. Proud of its military exploits against the more powerful North, the former Confederacy exalted the glory, heroism, and sacrifice of its soldiers on the battlefields. Yet glory, heroism, and sacrifice were dear to Northerners as well, and this they could share with Southerners in their memories of the Civil War while avoiding the moral and ideological questions associated with slavery, the war, and postwar human rights. Thus, after considerable controversy, including angry opposition from some Northern veterans, the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association approved proposals to erect two Confederate monuments of modest size: one in 1886, on Culp's Hill; and another in 1887, near the apex of Pickett's Charge—a highly significant location. These were the only Southern monuments erected on the battlefield before the end of the century, even though in 1889 the Memorial Association stated its intention to buy lands on which the Confederate army had been positioned, and to erect more monuments to mark important sites along Southern battle lines.

Although it lost the battle and the war in its attempt to split the United States into two nations, the South was gradually being accepted by Northerners as worthy of honor in recognition of the heroism and sacrifice of its troops at Gettysburg. The huge 50th anniversary reunion held on the battlefield in 1913 would become a landmark of reconciliation between North and South, but the urge toward reconciliation had been clearly evident at Gettysburg three decades earlier.(29)(Figure 4)

Figure 4: United Daughters of the Confederacy Monument.

Figure 4. At Shiloh, this detail of the United Daughters of the Confederacy Monument erected in 1917 depicts three allegorical figures—The South, Death, and Night—symbolizing the course of the battle and expressing profound grief. (By Timothy B. Smith, courtesy of Shiloh National Military Park.)

The African American Role

In marked contrast to the involvement of Confederate veterans, African American participation in Civil War battlefield commemoration was minimal in virtually all cases. Prior to President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, effective January 1, 1863, some blacks served as soldiers (and sailors) for the North. But most blacks were strictly limited to their enforced roles as servants and laborers—their status being either as freedmen or contraband for the Union army, or as slaves for the Confederacy. However, the Northern success at Antietam in September 1862 spurred Lincoln to issue the Proclamation; and, beginning in 1863, blacks became increasingly active as soldiers in the Union army. It is estimated that nearly 180,000 blacks joined the United States Army before the end of the war, more than half of them recruited from the Confederate states. They served mainly in infantry, cavalry, and heavy and light artillery units.

Yet African American soldiers did not fight on any of the battlefields destined to become the earliest military parks. Blacks were mustered in too late to see combat at Shiloh and Antietam in 1862, before the Proclamation. And they did not fight in the siege of the city of Vicksburg, or at Gettysburg, Chickamauga, or Chattanooga—each of which occurred in 1863. Their principal involvement was in the broader Vicksburg campaign, where they fought with distinction at the battles of Milliken's Bend and Port Hudson.(Figure 5)

Figure 5: Troops at a west-central Tennessee battlefield in 1864.

Figure 5. Until recent decades, African American contributions to the North's war effort received little public attention. Yet following the Emancipation Proclamation, nearly 180,000 blacks enlisted in the United States Army, including the troops shown here at a war-torn battleground in west-central Tennessee in 1864. (Courtesy of Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.)

The Vicksburg campaign thus provided the most likely possibility for any significant African American involvement in postwar commemorative activity at the early military parks. Black veterans did, indeed, take a very active part in Vicksburg's 1890 reunion, even in organizing it. It was, however, a rigorously segregated event, as were most reunions held at other battlefields, including Gettysburg. There, blacks marched in segregated parades, dined separately, and worked mainly as laborers and servants—this time not in support of soldiers at war, as in the past, but of white reunion participants. Due to widespread racism in the South and North, African Americans would, through the decades, face discrimination in all types of Civil War battlefield commemoration.(30)

Creating the First Military Parks

With the exception of Grover Cleveland, every United States president from Ulysses S. Grant through William McKinley was a veteran of the Union army, as were many congressmen. Following Reconstruction, the sectional reconciliation paved the way for ex-Confederates and their political spokesmen in Washington to join Northern leaders in supporting battlefield commemoration. Moreover, each of the major battles was very much national in scope. The involvement of troops from many states, plus the impact of each battle on the outcome of the war, made battlefield preservation a matter of importance to the nation as a whole, and ultimately to the national government itself. Support also resulted from efforts by veterans' societies representing the different armies (for instance, the Union armies of the Ohio and the Potomac, and the Confederate armies of Tennessee and Mississippi) to ensure that they would be honored at battlefields where they had gained special distinction. The aging veterans from both sides sought to create permanent tributes to their wartime valor.

Cooperation between Northern and Southern veterans played a direct role in the Federal Government's formal preservation of the battlegrounds at Chickamauga and Chattanooga. By an act of Congress signed on August 19, 1890, these two battlefields were combined to form the first federal military park in the United States. Earlier, the Grand Army of the Republic had sponsored reunions at Chattanooga; and during the September 1889 gathering (which included Confederate veterans and a huge barbeque held near Chickamauga that hosted 12,000 people), an agreement was reached to form a "Joint Chickamauga Memorial Association." This association included veterans from both sides, who recognized that Chickamauga Battlefield had no formal protection, and that its farms, fields, and woods had been steadily losing their 1863 appearance. The veterans were also aware that, at Gettysburg, the Memorial Association had not yet acquired the battle lines of the Southern armies. At Chickamauga and Chattanooga, with Northerners and Southerners participating, the opportunity existed from the very beginning to commemorate both sides at each of the two battlefields. Benefiting from the support of politicians in the nation's capital who were veterans of the war, including President Benjamin Harrison, the legislative effort succeeded quickly. A bill to combine both battlefields into a single military park was introduced in Congress in May 1890 and enacted the following August, with actual deliberation taking less than 30 minutes in each house.(31)

The law called for acquiring extensive land areas, up to 7,600 acres just for Chickamauga, almost all privately owned, for the purpose of preservation. Moreover, it also authorized the use, when necessary, of the government's power of eminent domain to acquire privately owned lands for historic preservation purposes. The fact that the park was to include so much acreage, and that land condemnation powers were specifically authorized, demonstrated the strength of the commitment to protect the battlefield. And, indeed, the eminent domain authority would be used extensively in acquiring private lands for the park. With the backing of both the South (victorious at Chickamauga in September 1863) and the North (victorious at nearby Chattanooga the following November), the legislation was clearly in keeping with the ongoing reconciliation between the two sections. In this regard, it called for the marking of battle lines of "all troops," and by "any State having troops engaged" in either battle [emphasis added].(32)

On August 30, 1890, only 11 days after the Chickamauga and Chattanooga legislation, Congress authorized very limited acquisition of Antietam battleground in northern Maryland near the Potomac River. Veterans' reunions at the site had gained popularity by the late 1880s, and the Antietam Battlefield Memorial Association was being organized when the legislation passed. However, of the military parks established during the 1890s, Antietam garnered the least political support—a factor that would greatly affect its size, as well as its subsequent preservation and development. Reasons for this lack of support seem to have included the already strong commitment to the preservation of Gettysburg by veterans of the North's Society of the Army of the Potomac, with increased support from ex-Confederates who had served there with Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Thus, veterans of the very armies that had fought one another at Antietam were focused elsewhere. Also, antipathy had increased toward General George B. McClellan, the Union commander at Antietam, stemming partly from the general's off-putting demeanor, but also from the fact that he had run against Lincoln in the president's re-election bid of November 1864—a particularly critical setback for McClellan's popularity once Lincoln's martyrdom occurred the following April. Additionally, Antietam's chief congressional sponsor was not a Civil War veteran, and therefore could not muster sufficient influence with veterans' associations. Without strong backing, the park got its start through no more than a one-sentence clause added to a congressional "sundry appropriations" bill. This was in stark contrast to the much more fully articulated legislation enacted for Chickamauga and Chattanooga and subsequent military parks of the 1890s.(33)

Of the two military parks created by Congress in August 1890, the Chickamauga and Chattanooga park established the most expansive legislative precedent: It marked the Federal Government's first statutory commitment to preserving a historic site, including acquisition of a very large tract of land for that purpose. Except for Antietam, the other military parks created before the end of the century were also large. When Shiloh became a military park in late 1894, its authorized size of about 6,000 acres resulted not only from the veterans' intent to preserve large portions of the battleground, but also from the intent to include the still-unfound mass graves. Coming shortly after Shiloh, Gettysburg's legislation was passed in early 1895, having been delayed by disagreements among the veterans. Beyond acquisition of lands that the Memorial Association controlled, Congress authorized expansion at Gettysburg on a somewhat open-ended basis: not to exceed the tracts shown on a specially prepared map of the battle areas, except for "other adjacent lands...necessary to preserve the important topographical features of the battlefield." The 1899 legislation for Vicksburg National Military Park authorized up to 1,200 acres that were important in the siege and defense of the Mississippi River town.(34)

The 1890 Chickamauga and Chattanooga legislation established other important precedents by mandating an array of actions that would not only be reflected in subsequent military park legislation, but would also, in time, become familiar aspects of historic preservation endeavors across the country. In this law, Congress was remarkably inclusive: It called for broad-based landscape preservation on the battlefields, for instance, to keep intact the "outlines of field and forest," even specifically mentioning the protection of trees, bushes, and shrubbery. Also to be preserved were earthworks and other defensive or shelter sites "constructed by the armies formerly engaged in the battles." Farmsteads were to be protected through use-and-occupancy arrangements, whereby current occupants could continue farming and living on the land, "upon condition that they will preserve the present buildings," as well as the roadways. The law authorized fines for the vandalism of both natural and historic features, including damaging fences and stealing "battle relics." And Congress clearly intended that monuments and markers were to be an integral part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga battlefield landscapes, with participation by both the North and South. (Indeed, especially during the late 1890s and the next decade, Southerners would erect a number of monuments and markers—the first sustained effort to honor the Confederacy on a Civil War battlefield.) To oversee all aspects of managing the new military park, Congress authorized a three-man commission (to be comprised of one Confederate and two Union veterans of either of the battles), which was to report to the War Department.

The Chickamauga and Chattanooga legislation authorized historical research on the battle to ensure accuracy in developing the park, and it declared that this preserved battleground would also serve the purpose of "historical and professional military study." A critical factor in securing political support for creating the park, the authorization for military study (for instance, the analysis of strategy and tactics) would be expanded by Congress in 1896 to allow training maneuvers and related activities at all federal military parks. This would result in extensive military use of the parks—most particularly at Gettysburg and at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, where military posts would be established, and remain active for a number of years. The 1896 act also brought about educational visits by military personnel and other interested professionals repeatedly through the decades. Even today, special park tours (known as staff rides) are regularly provided to the military.(35)

It is significant, however, that most of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga legislative precedents were reflections of what had already taken place at Gettysburg under the guidance of its Memorial Association, backed by the Grand Army of the Republic. Starting with the Association's efforts in 1863, Gettysburg had set the basic standard for the ways in which the early military parks, as well as the battlefield cemeteries, would be developed, commemorated, and presented to the public. To begin with, of those cemeteries associated with battlefields that were destined to become the first military parks, Gettysburg's cemetery was both the earliest and the most noteworthy. Formally developed soon after the battle, the cemetery had quickly gained renown in the North, heightened by the special distinction of being the site of Lincoln's address. Also, by the mid-1890s, each battlefield had hosted one or more veterans' reunions and had become the focus of a memorial association. But here again, the standard had been set with the organization of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association in the summer of 1863; its charter by the State of Pennsylvania the following year; and its many commemorative activities, such as overseeing the placement of a truly impressive array of monuments and hosting successful reunions. The Memorial Association was itself a forerunner of the War Department's commissions that were to oversee each of the early military parks. And at Gettysburg, indications of the North-South reconciliation came early, with the Blue-Gray reunions held there beginning in the 1880s, which were highlighted by the 1887 and 1888 gatherings, and by the two Southern monuments erected during that decade.

Overall, by 1890, when Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Antietam were authorized to become military parks, the Memorial Association had already purchased several hundred acres of land at Gettysburg; acquired the historically important house used as headquarters by the commander of the Union army, General George G. Meade; established almost 20 miles of roads; and overseen the erection of more than 300 monuments. Almost all of the Northern states had contributed to these efforts, with a combined total of close to $1 million. With its miles of avenues and increasing number of monuments, the ongoing development at Gettysburg was very much what the proponents of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga military park intended to emulate. Indeed, as they moved toward the legislation of August 1890, they envisioned their park becoming a "Western Gettysburg."(36)

Before the Civil War, Congress had harbored strong doubts that federal involvement in historic preservation had any constitutional basis; yet the century closed with the Federal Government having a substantial statutory commitment to preservation. Of special importance to the military parks—and, indeed, to the future of federal preservation of historic places in general—the United States Supreme Court, in a landmark decision of January 1896, confirmed the constitutional legitimacy of the government's battlefield preservation endeavors. Except for Vicksburg, by 1896 all of the early Civil War parks had been established; and the preservation actions of the federal legislative and executive branches were now validated by the judicial branch.

The case before the Court involved the government's use of its eminent domain authority to halt development by the Gettysburg Electric Railway Company that would intrude on Devil's Den, Cemetery Ridge, and other famed combat sites at Gettysburg. Unanimously, the Supreme Court decided in favor of the Federal Government, supporting government preservation of these sites, and making clear the connections between the military parks and the general public good. The Court declared that the importance of the Civil War, including Gettysburg, "cannot be overestimated," in that, among other things, the "existence of the government itself...depended upon the result." To the Court, erecting monuments and taking possession of the battlefield "in the name and for the benefit of all the citizens of the country for the present and for the future" is a "public use...closely connected with the welfare of the republic itself." Moreover, the costs and sacrifices of the battle are rendered "more obvious and more easily appreciated when such a battlefield is preserved by the government at the public expense."

The Supreme Court also held that taking land for military cemeteries "rests on the same footing" as does taking land for the battlefield, and is "connected with and springs from the same powers of the Constitution." To the Court, it seemed "very clear that the government has the right to bury its own soldiers and to see to it that their graves shall not remain unknown or unhonored." The Court declared that "No narrow view of the character of this proposed use [of the battlefield and the cemetery] should be taken. Its national character and importance...are plain."(37)

In the first case involving historic preservation to be decided by the Supreme Court (and for a long time the only decision specifically addressing this subject), the Court confirmed the constitutional foundation for federally sponsored preservation of historic sites and places. What had begun as a spontaneous commemorative effort by David McConaughy and other citizens of Gettysburg and the State of Pennsylvania, had evolved into a broad, popular movement backed by powerful organizations and by leading political figures of the times. The Civil War battlefields were becoming huge memorial landscapes—scenes of horrific warfare transformed into pastoral shrines. They were, in effect, canonized by the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the Federal Government. Preservation of the military parks, the first federally managed historic sites, had been deemed to be closely tied to the "welfare of the republic."

Beyond the 19th Century

After Vicksburg's establishment as a military park in 1899, it was not until 1917 that Congress authorized the next Civil War battlefield park at Kennesaw Mountain, northwest of Atlanta, where the Confederates stalled, if only for a while, the Union army's southward march through Georgia. In the mid-1920s, other famous Civil War battlefields became military parks, including Petersburg and Fredericksburg, in Virginia. And in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt transferred the military parks from the War Department's administration to the National Park Service, which was already deeply involved in the preservation of historic places associated with early Native Americans, Hispanics, the American Revolution, and westward expansion. The Civil War military parks thus joined a growing system of preserved historic sites, along with a number of well-known, large natural areas, including Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Great Smoky Mountains national parks.(Figure 6)

Figure 6: Ochs Memorial Observatory on Lookout Mountain.

Figure 6. During the Chattanooga campaign, intense fighting took place on Lookout Mountain, long renowned for its spectacular views of the Tennessee River Valley. The Ochs Memorial Observatory, shown here ca. 1950, is dedicated to the memory of Adolph S. Ochs, one-time resident of Chattanooga and owner and publisher of the New York Times, who helped add nearly 3,000 acres to the national military park in 1934. (Courtesy of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.)

Through the rest of the 20th century, numerous other military parks were added to this national system, including sites significant in the Union army's extended siege of Richmond, Virginia; the battleground close by Bull Run and near Manassas, Virginia, where the Confederate army won important victories in 1861 and 1862; and Wilson's Creek and Pea Ridge, sites of closely contested battles in the Trans-Mississippi West. Also, Civil War-era sites other than battlefields came into the system, such as the home of the great African American leader Frederick Douglass in the District of Columbia; Andersonville, the Confederate military prison in Georgia; and the Lincoln Home in Illinois.(38)

At the Civil War battlefields, the stratigraphy of history has been rich, complex, and often controversial. Looking back through the decades, the preservation and public attention given the national military parks (and the huge number of other Civil War sites, both public and private) reflect a continuing ritual—a long rite of passage that began during the war and has remained strong into the 21st century. The nation and its people, Northerners and Southerners, black and white, and from academics to battle re-enactors, have contended with the memories and the meanings of the vast, tragic four-year struggle. Compelled by the war and its times, each generation has commemorated—and celebrated—the battles and the war in a sequence of activities that forms an extended, multi-layered commemorative history founded on enduring remembrances that will reach far into the future.


About the Author

Richard West Sellars is a historian with the National Park Service in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is the author of Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997). He is currently working on a companion volume, a history of cultural resource management in the National Park System, from which this article was adapted. The author wishes to thank the numerous individuals who supported this work during its preparation. He can be reached at



1. The epigraph is from Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975), 231. David Wills, another Gettysburg attorney and a rival of McConaughy's, became the chief proponent for creation of the military cemetery. Quotes and detail are found in Kathleen R. Georg [Harrison], "'This Grand National Enterprise': The Origins of Gettysburg's Soldiers' National Cemetery & Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association" (Gettysburg National Military Park, 1982), 8-10, 19; and Kathleen Georg Harrison, National Register of Historic Places form, "Statement of Significance for Gettysburg National Military Park and Soldiers National Cemetery," typescript, section 8, Gettysburg National Military Park files, 2004, 8, 29-32; McConaughy's extended quote, from the Adams Sentinel [Gettysburg], August 19, 1863, is found in Harrison, "Statement of Significance," 30; see also, Harlan D. Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg National Military Park and Gettysburg National Cemetery, Pennsylvania" (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, July 1991), 3-13.

2. Garry Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992), 19-40, 191-203. See 263 for the "Final Text" of the address, used above; see also, 205-210 for an account of the quest to locate the exact site where Lincoln delivered the address. Harrison, "Statement of Significance," 22-23, 32-33; Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg," 5-12, 41-65. See also David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995), 460-466; and Mary Munsell Abroe, "All the Profound Scenes: Federal Preservation of Civil War Battlefields, 1861-1990" (Ph.D. dissertation, Loyola University, Chicago, 1996), 33-57, for discussions of the cemetery dedication and Lincoln's address.

3. An Act to Incorporate the Gettysburg Battle-Field Memorial Association, Approved April 30, 1864, quoted in Harrison, "Statement of Significance," 24; see also, Abroe, "All the Profound Scenes," 70-76; and Richard West Sellars, "Vigil of Silence: The Civil War Memorials," and "The Granite Orchards of Gettysburg," History News 41, no. 4, (July-August 1986): 19-23.

4. Jim Weeks, Gettysburg: Memory, Market, and an American Shrine (Princeton: Princeton University Press: 2003), provides an analysis of tourism at Gettysburg; see 1-111, passim; visitor numbers and African American tourism at Gettysburg are discussed on 67, 92-98. In a sense, Civil War tourism may be said to have begun in July 1861, at the first Battle of Manassas, little more than three months after the war began. Hundreds of curious people, including members of Congress, rode out from Washington and nearby areas, many with picnic lunches and champagne, to watch the fighting take place, but soon hastily retreated from the battle area, as did the defeated Union troops. See John J. Hennessy, "War Watchers at Bull Run," Civil War Times Illustrated 40, no. 4 (August 2001): 40-47, passim.

5. Ronald F. Lee, The Origin and Evolution of the National Military Park Idea (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1973), 27-37.

6. G. Kurt Piehler, Remembering War the American Way (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books, 1995), 10-46; Charlene Mires, Independence Hall in American Memory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 65-67; Gary Nash, First City: Philadelphia and the Forging of American Memory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 2-3; William J. Murtagh, Keeping Time: The History and Theory of Preservation in America (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1997, rev. ed.), 28-30, 52; Charles B. Hosmer Jr., Presence of the Past: A History of the Preservation Movement in the United States Before Williamsburg (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1965), 29-30, 35-37, 41-52.

7. National Park Service, "Outline of Development at Colonial National Monument, Yorktown, Virginia," Colonial National Historical Park files, typescript, n.d., 14; National Park Service, "National Register of Historic Places documentation for Yorktown and Yorktown Battlefield," Colonial National Historical Park files, n.d., typescript draft, n.p.; Piehler, Remembering War, 25, 27. In a bit of a twist, the Battle of Bunker Hill actually occurred on nearby Breed's Hill, where the monument is located—but the battle and the monument were given the "Bunker Hill" designation. Wonder Cabinet Interpretive Design, "Bunker Hill Museum," final contract/fabrication documents, Lexington, Massachusetts, November 2003, n.p.; see also, Louis Torres, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Construction of the Washington Monument (Washington, DC: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1984). Similar to the delays with the Washington Monument, a tall obelisk commemorating General Andrew Jackson's victory in early 1815 over the British army in the Battle of New Orleans (fought at nearby Chalmette Plantation) was begun with the laying of the cornerstone in 1840, but not completed until 1908. See also Michael Kammen, Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture (New York: Random House, 1991), 11, 71.

8. Hosmer, Presence of the Past, 38-40, 59, 69-72; Elizabeth R. Varon, We Mean to Be Counted: White Women & Politics in Antebellum Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 124-133. Kammen, in Mystic Chords of Memory, 48-61, discusses the "widespread indifference to historic sites, which often resulted in neglect or actual damage" in pre-Civil War America. The quote is on page 53.

9. The quotes are from Hosmer, Presence of the Past, 41, 307-308 n. 3; see also, 36-38. Varon, We Mean to Be Counted, 126, 130; Laurence Vail Coleman, Historic House Museums (Washington, DC: American Association of Museums, 1933), 25-33. Murtagh, Keeping Time, 25-30, discusses early private preservation efforts for historic houses.

10. The Whitman quotes and related details are found in Roy Morris Jr., The Better Angel: Walt Whitman and the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 84, 171-173; and Walter Lowenfelds, ed., Walt Whitman's Civil War (New York: Knopf, 1961; reprint, New York, Da Capo Press, n.d.), 144, 163. Morris states (p. 84) that diarrhea affected more than half of the Union army and almost all the Confederate troops, taking the lives of nearly 100,000 soldiers during the Civil War. Examples of Whitman's writings on the Civil War are found in John Kouwenhoven, ed., Leaves of Grass and Selected Prose by Walt Whitman (New York: Random House, 1950), including Whitman's "Drum Taps" poems, 222-281, and prose pieces, "Specimen Days," 573-636. The "pilgrim-place" quote is from an editorial in The Bivouac, An Independent Military Monthly 3, no. 11 (November 1885): 431-432, in Harrison, "Statement of Significance," 36.

11. In addition, several hundred artillery pieces have been positioned on the battlefields. Harrison, "Statement of Significance," 24; electronic mail to author from superintendent Susan W. Trail, Monocacy National Battlefield, May 21, 2004; and from national military park historians Timothy B. Smith, Shiloh, May 1, 2004; Terrence J. Winschel, Vicksburg, May, 1, 2004; and James H. Ogden, III, Chickamauga and Chattanooga, May 4, 2004.

12. Jill K. Hanson and Robert W. Blythe, "Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Historic Resources Study," unpublished, National Park Service files, Atlanta, 1999, 38; Piehler, Remembering War, 81-86. An extensive study of Civil War monuments is found in Michael Wilson Panhorst, "Lest We Forget: Monuments and Memorial Sculpture in National Military Parks on Civil War Battlefields, 1861-1917" (Ph.D dissertation, University of Delaware, 1988).

13. Robert E. L. Krick, "The Civil War's First Monument: Bartow's Marker at Manassas," Blue and Gray Magazine 8, no. 4 (April 1991): 32-34; Daniel A. Brown, "Marked for Future Generations: The Hazen Brigade Monument, 1863-1929," National Park Service, July 1985, Stones River National Battlefield files, typescript, 4-14; Terrence J. Winschel, "Administrative History of Vicksburg National Military Park," Vicksburg National Military Park files, partial draft, typescript, chapter 2, n.p., n.d.

14. In order to cope with the growing number of casualties, Northern military officials in September 1861 and April 1862 had issued orders for identifying and recording names of the dead and their place of burial. Edward Steere, "Early Growth of the National Cemetery System," in Shrines of the Honored Dead: A Study of the National Cemetery System (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, Office of the Quartermaster General, 1953-1954), 1-11, 13-17; Abroe, "'All the Profound Scenes'," 20-35; Barry Mackintosh, "The Birth and Evolution of the National Cemetery System," Washington, DC, National Park Service, Division of History files, n.d., unpublished, typescript, 1-7; Lee, National Military Park Idea, 19.

15. Georg [Harrison], "'This Grand National Enterprise'," 4-6; Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg," 3-11; Lee, National Military Park Idea, 17; John S. Patterson, "From Battle Ground to Pleasure Ground: Gettysburg as a Historic Site," in History Museums in the United States, ed. Warren Leon and Roy Rosenzweig (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989), 131-132; Richard Meyers, "The Vicksburg National Cemetery: An Administrative History" (Washington, DC: National Park Service, 1968), typescript, 1-21 (the quote is found on p. 5; and a listing of the many sites in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas, from which Union dead were moved to Vicksburg National Cemetery, is found in appendix B, 202-204); Christopher Waldrep, "Battleground: The Civil War and Race in Vicksburg, 1861-1947," draft typescript, 2004, 103-111; Winschel, "Administrative History of Vicksburg National Military Park," chapter 1, n.p. The situation at Shiloh regarding the initial burials and the official military cemetery (established in 1866) is discussed in Timothy B. Smith, This Great Battlefield of Shiloh (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2004), 9-15.

16. James M. McPherson, Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 3-5; Susan W. Trail "Remembering Antietam: Commemoration and Preservation of a Civil War Battlefield" (Ph.D. dissertation, draft, University of Maryland, College Park, June 2004), chapter 3, 1-44; Charles W. Snell and Sharon Brown, "Antietam National Battlefield and Cemetery, Sharpsburg, Maryland: An Administrative History" (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1986), typescript, 1-20.

17. Abroe, "'All the Profound Scenes'," 57-66; Lee, National Military Park Idea, 19-21; Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg," 24-26; Trail, "Remembering Antietam," chapter 3, 47-49.

18. Harrison, "Statement of Significance," 15-17; Wayne Craven, The Sculptures at Gettysburg (Harrisburg, PA: Eastern Acorn Press, 1982), 11-18; Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg," 25; Trail, "Remembering Antietam," chapter 3, 44-46, 51-55.

19. Edward Tabor Linenthal, Sacred Ground: Americans and Their Battlefields (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991), 93; Smith, This Great Battlefield of Shiloh, 9-10, 76; Gaines M. Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 36-46; Winschel, "Administrative History of Vicksburg National Military Park," chapter 1, n.p.; Hanson and Blythe, "Chickamauga and Chattanooga," 27-29.

20. Trail, "Remembering Antietam," chapter 3, 8-12, 40-43.

21. A large memorial ceremony made up mainly of African Americans and held in Charleston, South Carolina, May 1, 1865, appears to have been the first formal observance of what became known as Decoration Day. David W. Blight, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 64-97, see especially 68-71; see also Kammen, Mystic Chords of Memory, 102-103; and Paul A. Shackel, Memory in Black and White: Race, Commemoration, and the Post-Bellum Landscape (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2003), 23-26, 31.

22. Wallace Evan Davies, Patriotism on Parade: The Story of Veterans' and Hereditary Organizations in America, 1783-1900 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1955), 30-41, 74-76; Patterson, "From Battle Ground to Pleasure Ground," 134-135; Hanson and Blythe, "Chickamauga and Chattanooga," 27-29.

23. John M. Vanderslice, Gettysburg Then and Now (1899: reprint Dayton, OH: Morningside Bookshop, 1983), ii; Patterson, "From Battle Ground to Pleasure Ground," 134-136; Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg," 46-47; Hanson and Blythe, "Chickamauga and Chattanooga," 28-29.

24. Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg," 46-58; Weeks, Gettysburg, 66-111; see also Waldrep, "Battleground," 190-199, for the Illinois Central Railroad's involvement in creating a military park at Vicksburg.

25. Richard Allen Sauers, "John B. Bachelder: Government Historian of the Battle of Gettysburg," Gettysburg Magazine, no. 3 (July 1, 1990): 115-119; Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg," 47-48, 53-59; Harrison, "Statement of Significance," 24-25, 33-34, 37-39; Kathleen R. Georg [Harrison], The Location of the Monuments, Markers, and Tablets on Gettysburg Battlefield (Gettysburg National Military Park in cooperation with Eastern National Park and Monument Association, 1982), 1-46; Patterson, "From Battle Ground to Pleasure Ground," 133-137; Linenthal, Sacred Ground, 120, n. 15; Abroe, "All the Profound Scenes," 114-115.

26. Smith, This Great Battlefield of Shiloh, 81-89; Sauers, "John B. Bachelder," 121-126; Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg," 58-59; John C. Paige and Jerome A. Greene, "Administrative History of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park" (Denver: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1983), 22-23, 152-153.

27. Lee's response to the Gettysburg request expressed his lack of support for preserving and marking battlefields. The famed general stated that it seemed wiser "not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the example of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered." Quoted in Emory M. Thomas, Robert E. Lee: A Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997), 392. See also Harrison, "Statement of Significance," 32; Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg," 58.

28. David W. Blight, Beyond the Battlefield: Race, Memory, and the American Civil War (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002), 93-115, 170-188, 223-251, 278-280, 298; Shackel, Memory in Black and White, 28-36; Linenthal, Sacred Ground, 89-126; see also, John Hope Franklin, "A Century of Civil War Observances," The Journal of Negro History 47, no. 2 (April 1962): 97-107. Extensive examinations of postwar race and reconciliation issues are also provided in Blight, Race and Reunion; Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy; and Nina Silber, The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865-1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993).

29. Abroe, "All the Profound Scenes," 118-147; Harrison, "Statement of Significance," 40-41; Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg," 59-62; Blight, Beyond the Battlefield, 177-179; Carol Reardon, Pickett's Charge in History and Memory (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997), 87-102; Linenthal, Sacred Ground, 95.

30. James M. McPherson, The Negro's Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union, rev. ed.(New York: Random House, 1991), 145-196; Richard Lowe, "Battle on the Levee: The Fight at Milliken's Bend," and Lawrence Lee Hewitt, "An Ironic Route to Glory: Louisiana's Native Guards at Port Hudson," in John David Smith, ed., Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 78-100, 107-129, see also p. 8; Shackel, Memory in Black and White, 33; Waldrep, "Battlefield," 140-143, 257-258; see also, Blight, Beyond the Battlefield, 170-183.

31. Lee, National Military Park Idea, 16; Paige and Greene, "Administrative History of Chickamauga and Chattanooga," 9-18; Hanson and Blythe, "Chickamauga and Chattanooga," 30-32.

32. Paige and Green, "Administrative History of Chickamauga and Chattanooga," 24-28; for full text of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga legislation, see Hillory A. Tolson, Laws Relating to the National Park Service (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1963), supplement II, 227-232.

33. Trail, "Remembering Antietam," chapter 4, 21-22, 27-28, 31-35; for full text of the Antietam legislation, see Tolson, Laws Relating to the National Park Service, 333. Because of its initially very limited size, Antietam was referred to as a national battlefield "site," rather than park.

34. For full texts of the legislation for the last three military parks of the 1890s, see Tolson, Laws Relating to the National Park Service, 282 (Shiloh); 254-258 (Gettysburg); 290-294 (Vicksburg); Harrison, "Statement of Significance," 45-46; Vanderslice, Gettysburg Then and Now, i. At Shiloh, the initial acquisition of only about 3,300 acres was considered sufficient. See Smith, This Great Battlefield of Shiloh, 18, 25, 50-52.

35. Tolson, Laws Relating to the National Park Service, 227; Paige and Green, "Administrative History of Chickamauga and Chattanooga," 17-28, 42, 171-199; Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg," 116-119; Lee, National Military Park Idea, 35-37; Hanson and Blythe, "Chickamauga and Chattanooga," appendix c, 1-16.

36. Abroe, "All the Profound Scenes," 208; Lee, National Military Park Idea, 22; Paige and Greene, "Administrative History of Chickamauga and Chattanooga," 10-11; Smith, This Great Battlefield of Shiloh, 18-21. During the war, the "Western" theater referred to the action taking place mostly west and south of the state of Virginia, except for the trans-Mississippi area.

37. United States v. Gettysburg Electric Railway Company, 160 US 668, 681-683 (1896); Harrison, "Statement of Significance," 42-43; Unrau, "Administrative History: Gettysburg," 75-77; Lee, National Military Park Idea, 14-15.

38. For a discussion of the growth of the national park system, see Barry Mackintosh, The National Parks: Shaping the System (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1991), 10-109.