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

Later Evolution of the National Military Park Idea - pgs
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New National Military Parks & Battlefield Sites

The question now was, what should Congress do with all this carefully prepared data? Supported by recommendations from the House Committee on Military Affairs, Congress decided to take two concurrent courses of action in the years from 1926 to 1933. First, it passed a series of six bills to authorize one national park, four national military parks, and one battlefields memorial, as follows: [101]


Date Approved

6/2/26 Moores Creek National Military Park
7/3/26 Petersburg National Military Park
3/14/27 Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial
(including also Chancellorsville and the Wilderness)
12/1/27 Stones River National Military Park
3/26/28 Fort Donelson National Park
3/3/31 King's Mountain National Military Park

It may be noted that through an entirely separate sequence of events Yorktown Battlefield also became a national historical reservation as a part of Colonial National Monument on July 3, 1930, as, indeed, Big Hole Battlefield in Montana and Sitka in Alaska had already become national monuments under the Antiquities Act as long ago as 1910.

Secondly, in 1930, Congress undertook to deal with the fifty Class IIb battlefields that had been recommended by the War Department for commemoration by drafting a huge omnibus bill listing and describing each project individually and authorizing appropriations for land acquisition and monumentation ranging from $2,500 to $100,000 depending on the importance of the site. Added all together the program called for a total appropriation of $624,400. It was a "rivers and harbors" bill for the monumentation of American battlefields, and very likely only the beginning, In preparation for consideration of this measure by the Congress, the House Committee on Military Affairs held a lengthy hearing on March 21, 1930. In addition to the members of the committee, 21 members of the House who were interested in particular battlefield bills were also present and most of them testified. The committee also heard testimony at length from Colonel Landers of the Historical Section of the Army War College, who was in general charge of the comprehensive survey of American battlefields. Colonel Landers made a responsive and thoroughly informed witness. It was necessary for him to testify, however, that the total program under the 1926 act would probably require the ultimate expenditure of $10,000,000 for national military parks and another $10,000 000 for battle sites other than parks, or a total of $20,000,000. [102]

On April 8, 1930, with the added benefit of data from the hearing,. Representative Lister Hill of Alabama, who had presided, introduced the omnibus bill, H.R. 11489. And on May 19 he presented a comprehensive report to the House from the committee on the subject of battlefield commemoration. He favorably recommended passage of the entire omnibus bill, with only one minor amendment. [103]

What then happened is not clear. It must be remembered that eight months previously, the stock market crash of October 1929 signalled the onset of the Great Depression. It is likely that by May 1930 historic preservation and commemoration had fallen to a much lower national priority in the minds of members of Congress than it had seemed to occupy four years earlier. In the end, Congress again resorted to "special acts for special battlefields," even when authorizing only modest monuments.

Such treatment was individually authorized for each of the following battlefield sites between 1929 and 1931:[104]


Date approved

2/21/29 Brices Cross Roads
2/21/29 Tupelo
3/1/29 Monocacy
3/4/29 Cowpens
6/2/30 Chalmette (take over maintenance)
6/18/30 Appomattox (monument only)
3/4/31 Fort Necessity

If one adds these seven battlefield sites to the six national military parks or their equivalents and the one national monument embracing a battlefield authorized during the same period, it makes a total of fourteen additions to Federal battlefield holdings between 1926 and 1933.

This was the general situation when, on June 10, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the executive order that brought about the transfer of the national military parks, battlefield sites and national monuments, until then administered by the War Department, to the Department of the Interior. Along with the historic sites and buildings themselves, the records and files of the 1926-1933 national survey of battlefields were also transferred to the Interior Department. From that date forward, the policies and programs related to surveying, preserving, marking and interpreting battlefields were merged into the broader general program of historic preservation and interpretation then being developed under the leadership of the National Park Service.

Later Evolution of the National Military Park Idea - pgs
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