Centennial Year of the New York Peace Memorial at Point Park

Saturday, February 27, 2010 - by John Shearer
New York Peace Monument.  Click to enlarge.
New York Peace Monument. Click to enlarge.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the completion of a Lookout Mountain landmark – the New York Peace Memorial at Point Park.

On Nov. 15, 1910, a crowd of several hundred veterans of both the Union and the Confederacy gathered at the site to dedicate and praise both the artistic and symbolic qualities of the giant monument.

The memorial had been built to commemorate the historic “Battle Above the Clouds” on Lookout Mountain in November 1863, a successful victory for the Union led by Gen. Joe Hooker.

Ninety-five feet high and made of pink granite and Tennessee marble, the monument was designed with a bronze statue at the top and featured a Northern and Southern soldier shaking hands.

Also drawing attention that dedication day was former Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Sickles, one of the featured speakers. A Medal of Honor recipient for his war effort, he was also notorious in historical annals for personal and professional indiscretions.

However, at the time of his visit, he was simply a 91-year-old former Union officer who was saluted and revered for his past military service.

When the New York monument was dedicated, Chattanoogans and Civil War veterans were quite familiar with such events.

After Congress had authorized the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in 1890 and the park was officially dedicated in 1895, numerous markers were unveiled throughout Chattanooga in honor of veterans of various states.

And Civil War veterans of both sides had attended plenty of the events and other reunions in Chattanooga and would continue to do so into the 1930s.

The 50th anniversary of the Civil War had not passed as of 1910, so the Civil War veterans at the time were approximately 15 years younger than the World War II veterans of today.

For the 1910 event, the railroads had offered special rates for New Yorkers to travel down to Tennessee. Chattanooga also took on a special air of excitement as many visitors found room and board in the various hotels and in homes.

Besides taking tours of Chattanooga, the New York delegation and other veterans were treated to a special program at the Lyric Theater on Monday, Nov. 14. The Lyric stood at Sixth and Market streets, where the recently razed Electric Power Board building was later located.

Taking part in this event was U.S. Sen. James B. Frazier of Chattanooga, who had previously been governor of Tennessee. Mayor T.C. Thompson – who had witnessed first-hand Gen. William Sherman’s Union Army marching through South Carolina as a child – also spoke, and soprano Sada Doak entertained with stirring renditions of “America” and “My Old Kentucky Home.”

The next day was the monument dedication event, and most of the participants traveled up to Point Park on the Incline Railway, which had opened in 1895. A few members of the official delegation also rode to the top of the mountain via that new form of transportation called the automobile.

As they approached Point Park, the spectators walked through the castle-like stone entrance that had been constructed in 1905 and was designed by local engineer E.E. Betts after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers insignia.

When the dedication began, nearly 3,000 people were reportedly present. The highlights included music by the 11th Cavalry Band and the Chattanooga Quartet, and speeches by Gen. Sickles and others.

Gen. Sickles, who was chairman of the New York State Monuments Commission, had lived a checkered life, historical sources say. He had once escorted a known prostitute into the New York State Assembly Chambers and had shot and killed the son of national anthem writer Francis Scott Key for having an affair with Sickle’s wife.

Some also said he did not follow orders at Gettysburg. He did later receive the Medal of Honor for his actions there, although he lost a leg from a cannonball.

In 1910, all that the spectators and local press were focusing on were his encouraging words at Point Park regarding reconciliation between the North and South.

“This monument is not here to celebrate a victory,” he said. “It says to the men of the South, ‘Let us embrace you.’ And it is emblematic of peace between us forever more.”

The gathering concluded with a vaudeville event at the Chattanooga Golf and Country, a United Daughters of the Confederacy ball, and a visit to Fort Oglethorpe the next day.

These days, most visitors to Point Park are likely more captivated by the stunning view off Lookout Mountain.

But 100 years ago, all eyes were focused on the large monument.


Jcshearer2@comcast.net


Copies Of Chattanooga Photo Book Collection Still Available At Zarzour's, By Mail

Copies of books in the Historic Chattanooga Photos series by Chattanoogan.com are still available at Zarzour's Restaurant and by mail. A fourth, and perhaps final, volume, Old Chattanooga Photos, is planned to be issued later this year. Railroads In And Around Chattanooga , featuring Chattanooga's intriguing railroad history, has 69 chapters and covers rail history here and ... (click for more)

Remembering The UT Student Aquatic Center

A good friend sent me John Shearer's recent article on the Student Aquatic Center. It brought back many memories. I graduated from Baylor in 1969 and first swam in the Aquatic Center in 1968 when the high school state meet was resumed for the first time in many years. I still remember being awed by the facility. I was fortunate enough to be recruited by Coach Bussard ... (click for more)

1 Person Killed In 3-Car Accident In Dalton On Saturday

There was a fatal three-vehicle crash on the South Bypass in Dalton just south of Sawgrass Drive  on Saturday  at approximately  4:30 pm . The crash happened when the driver of a black Ford Mustang traveling southbound on the bypass for some reason left its lane of travel and crossed over the center line and hit a 2004 Chevy Silverado truck head on. ... (click for more)

Car Crashes Into Motel 6 In Dalton; Driver, 17, Admits To Texting While Driving

The Dalton Police Department and Dalton Fire Department responded Saturday morning to a crash at the Motel 6 at Highway 41 and Tibbs Road. The driver of the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix involved left the roadway and crashed into the Motel 6 building causing severe damage to one of the rooms. There were no major injuries. Investigators believe texting while driving was a contributing ... (click for more)

Slaxxon Regret - And Response

Back in the seventies my three oldest brothers had a buddy named Steve Slack. “Slack” was a star soccer player at Baylor and he grew up on Lookout Mountain, which is where I grew up. He and Jimmy, Henry and Bill went to the University of Virginia where they were roommates in an old, beat up house that was painted pink. Naturally, the place became known as the “Pink Palace” but lest ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: This Library Comes Alive

I am pretty positive that I haven’t stepped foot in a library in the last 50 years. Between the ever-widening Internet, with all of its search engines and infinite resources, I have got about as much use for a library as I would if I read a book about a transgender person. I have neither the time or inclination. Be like trying to teach a pig to sing – the pig always get bored. ... (click for more)