Cickamauga and Chattanooga Battlefield established

The first military battlefield protected by the U.S. government was the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Memorial Park, established on August 19, 1890.  The park preserves various locations in and around Chattanooga, Tennessee, that comprised an important Civil War confrontation during the second half of1863.

Chicamauga is the first Civil War battlefield preserved by the U.S. government (photo by Lhughesw5)

The park pre-dated all other battlefield parks, including Gettysburg (established five years later).  The time was nearing when few actual participants in the Civil War remained alive.  Consequently, students of military history and veterans and their relatives began to lobby for preservation of important locations as a source of knowledge about military strategy and as a monument to the soldiers who fought and died there.  Chit-Chat, as the Chickamauga and Chattanooga location is commonly called, became particularly meaningful because veterans from both sides of the Civil War agreed to come together to promote the preservation of the area and to record its history from both Union and Confederate perspectives.  The extended battle there, occupying several months and seesawing between Union and Confederate dominance, was among the most important and vicious of the war, causing approximately 40,000 total casualties.  Working together, advocates pushed through a bill with virtually no controversy “…to establish a National Military Park at the battlefield of Chickamauga,” signed by President Harrison on August 19, 1890.

The park includes old growth forest in the Appalachian Mountains (photo by Gloria Bell, Philadelphia)

The park encompasses about 7600 acres at several sites near the Tennessee River where it flows through Chattanooga.  The park includes part of Lookout Mountain, a major geologic and tourism feature of the region.  The landscape is part of the Appalachian Blue Ridge, old mountains heavily scored by small streams and rivers and covered in dense forests of mixed hardwoods.  Because the Tennessee River flows from east to west in this region, it has always been an important transportation corridor, for Native Americans as well as European settlers and contemporary commerce.  Consequently, it was also a strategically important route for movement of troops and supplies during the Civil War.

From a conservation standpoint, Chit-Chat is also important as the beginning of extensive historical and cultural resource protection by the federal government.  Within the next decade, Congress and presidents preserved a large number of other Civil War battlefields, including Gettysburg, followed by a continually increasing roster of other historic and cultural areas.  Today, the National park Service manages 25 national battlefields and 129 national historic, along with the natural sites that are so beloved by Americans.

References:

National Park Service.  Chickamauga and Chattanooga Administrative History.  Available at:  https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/chch/adhit.htm.  Accessed August 18, 2017.

Sutton, Robert K.  2008.  Holding the High Ground:  Interpreting the Civil War in National Parks.  George Wright Forum  25(3):47-57.  Available at:  http://www.georgewright.org/253sutton.pdf.  Accessed August 18, 2017.

This Month in Conservation

August 1
Hawaii National Park Created (1916)
August 2
White Giraffes Found in Kenya (2017)
August 3
Arbor Day in Niger
August 4
Liang Congjie, Pioneering Chinese Environmentalist, born (1932)
August 5
First Traffic Light Installed in U.S. (1914)
August 6
Rajendra Singh, the Waterman of India, Born (1959)
August 7
World’s Oldest Tree Cut Down, Accidentally (1964)
August 7
Elinor Ostrom, Noble Laureate in Economics, Born (1933)
August 8
Banqiao Dam Collapse, World’s Biggest Dam Disaster (1975)
August 9
Smokey Bear Born (1944)
August 10
John Kirk Townsend, Pioneering Naturalist, Born (1809)
August 11
Gifford Pinchot, Father of American Forestry, Born (1865)
August 12
“The Lorax” Published (1971)
August 13
Roald Amundsen Completes Northwest Passage (1905-1906)
August 14
Hetch Hetchy Began Producing Power (1925)
August 15
Sponge Act passed (1914)
August 16
E. F. Schumacher, Environmental Economist, born (1911)
August 17
Cape Hatteras National Seashore created (1937)
August 18
Margaret Murie born (1902)
August 19
Cickamauga and Chattanooga Battlefield established
August 20
The Great Fire (1910)
August 20
Rajendra Pachauri, Nobel Peace Laureate in Climate Change Research, Born (1940)
August 21
“Bambi” Released (1942)
August 22
Loch Ness Monster first seen (565)
August 23
Chile’s Atacama Desert Blooms (2017)
August 24
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine, Established (2016)
August 25
National Park Service Born (1916)
August 26
Krakatau Volcano Erupted (1883)
August 27
First Oil Well Drilled (1859)
August 28
Roger Tory Peterson, Ornithologist, Born (1908)
August 29
Henry Bergh, Founder of ASPCA, Born (1813)
August 30
International Whale Shark Day
August 30
Lord Walsingham Shot 1,070 Grouse (1888)
August 31
John Muir Home preserved (1964)
January February March April May June July August September October November December