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


Chattanooga Books Available By John Wilson

John Wilson, former Hamilton County Historian, has written two volumes on the early families of Hamilton County and also books on Chattanooga and on Lookout Mountain, as well as editing books on Chattanooga's railroads and the Stokes and Hiener photo collections. Railroads In And Around Chattanooga , featuring Chattanooga's intriguing railroad history, has 69 chapters and covers ... (click for more)

Fair on January 21 at Soddy-Daisy High School Celebrates Area History

The Soddy, Daisy & Montlake Historical Association (SDMHA) will host a History Fair at the Soddy-Daisy High School on Saturday, January 21 from 9am to 4pm. The association encourages area residents and anyone who is interested in local history to attend this event and to participate in its efforts to preserve the history of its local communities. The History Fair will ... (click for more)

Man Killed By Officers After Pursuit Tuesday Night In Soddy Daisy

A man was killed by officers on Tuesday night after a long chase that ended in Soddy Daisy. The shooting incident happened around 7 p.m. The chase started shortly after 5 p.m. Hamilton County Sheriff's Office deputies were involved in the shooting. No officers were injured. The Sheriff's Office said m ultiple law enforcement agencies responded to the ... (click for more)

City Council Told Cost Has Soared For Moving Sewer Line Off Tubman Industrial Site

City Council members were told on Tuesday that the cost has soared for moving a sewer line completely off the Harriet Tubman industrial site. Bill Payne, city engineer, said it initially was around $1.5 million, but is now pegged at over $4 million. Councilman Chris Anderson, who heads the council's economic development committee, said the assertion brought "stunned looks" ... (click for more)

Beyond Freedom Of Speech - And Response

Yes, most people know about the First Amendment to our Constitution, "The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction."  I being a "deplorable" draw the line when people block traffic, try to disrupt, and even stop an activity through malice and disregard for others. Case being ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Want To Protest? Get Paid!

In a troubling time when “false news” is the rage and people ask me – to my face – if anybody from Russia ever approached me personally searching for votes for President-elect Donald Trump, there appears a website that, to cop a phrase, “is too good to be true.” There is a group out of California that allegedly wants to hire “operatives” to protest Friday’s inauguration. Forget ... (click for more)