Book Cover "The Origin & Evolution of the National Military Park Idea" by Ronald F. Lee 1973




General Observations

Monuments for
American Revolution Battlefields

The First Battlefield Parks - pgs
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Later Evolution of the National Military Park Idea





A Battlefields Park System

Reading the elevated language of Justice Peckham's decision in the case of the United States v. Gettysburg Electric Railway Company may enable us to perceive better than we otherwise might the very great importance which his generation attached to the preservation and marking of the major battlefields of the Civil War. As we have noted, it was significant that by this time both Union and Confederate soldiers had begun to meet in joint encampments on their old battlefields. Dr. Paul Buck notes that a contemporary observer enumerating the reunions that occurred between 1881 and 1887 was able to list twenty-four more prominent, formal ones. The twenty-fifth anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg in 1888 was marked by a particularly moving reunion. The dedication of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Park in 1896 was an even more impressive national observance presided over by Vice President Adlai Stevenson. It lasted several days, during which eminent Northerners and Southerners alike joined in eloquent pleas for understanding and brotherhood. [23] Such national gatherings reflected the very great need deeply felt in the 1890s, to further reestablishment of national unity, in part by a national program of historic preservation of the tragic battlefields of the war.

The first four battlefields to be preserved by the Nation were not selected at random but constituted, almost from the beginning, a national battlefield park system. As the Army War College pointed out later, these national parks were designed by Congress, both to preserve the major battlefields for historical and professional study and also to serve as lasting memorials to the great armies of the war on both sides. The field of Gettysburg memorialized the Union Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia; the field of Chickamauga honored the Union Army of the Cumberland and the Confederate Army of Tennessee; and the field of Shiloh served as a memorial to the Union Armies of the Tennessee and Ohio and to the Confederate Army of the Mississippi. Further consideration revealed, however, that a fitting memorial to the Union Army of the Tennessee needed the preservation of Vicksburg as well as Shiloh, for the campaign of Vicksburg was that army's most brilliant operation. Accordingly, Congress added Vicksburg in 1889 to complete the initial system of four major Civil War battlefields. [24]

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The First Battlefield Parks - pgs
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