NPS photo

Between 1890 and 1899 the Congress of the United States authorized the establishment of the first four military parks: Chickamauga and Chattanooga, Shiloh, Gettysburg, and Vicksburg. The first and largest of these, and the one upon which the establishment and development of most other national military and historical parks was based, was Chickamauga and Chattanooga. It owes its existence largely to the efforts of General H.V. Boynton and Ferdinand Van Derveer, both veterans of the Army of the Cumberland, who saw the need for a national park to preserve and commemorate these battlefields during a visit to the area in 1888.

Working mainly under the auspices of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, a veterans organization, and the Chickamauga Memorial Association, Boynton and Van Derveer spent the better part of two years gathering support for the park idea among both Federal and confederate veterans. Early in 1890 Ohio Congressman Charles Grosvenor introduced into the 51st Congress a bill by Boynton to establish the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Favorable reports by both the House and Senate Military Affairs committees brought speedy Congressional passage, and President Benjamin Harrison signed the bill on August 19, 1890.

In recommending the creation of the park, both Congressional military affairs committees pointed out that there probably no other field in the world which presented more formidable obstacles to large scale military operations than the slopes of Lookout Mountain and Missionary ridge. Since the purpose would be to maintain the park in its historic condition, they also noted that there had been scarcely any changes in the roads, fields, forests, and houses at Chickamauga since the battle, except for the growth of underbrush and timber. Taken together these fields offered unparalleled opportunities for historical and professional military study of the operations of two great armies over all types of terrain met with in actual campaigns. No battlefield park of this quality and magnitude could be found in any other nation of the world.

The park was officially dedicated on September 18-20, 1895 (thirty two years since the actual battle). Most of the 1,400 monuments and historical markers on the battlefields were planned and placed by Boynton and other veterans of the battles, under the supervision of the War Department (which administered all national military parks until they were transferred to the National Park Service in 1933). While much of the park retains it's 1863 appearance, a major highway (US 27) currently bisects the park. A bypass has been constructed which has reduced both traffic and modern intrusion into the park.

.......The LaFayette Road today.