This is a year of remembrance of the Civil War battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga which took place 150 years ago. In daily drives around our area, we see many monuments which were placed after the war. To help our understanding of those commemoratives, Dr. Stacey W. Reaves has written a book, A History and Guide to the Monuments of Chickamauga National Military Park, which was released in July by the History Press of South Carolina.
Dr. Reaves grew up in Adamsville, TN, less than ten miles from the Shiloh National Military Park, where she served five years as a seasonal park ranger. Last year, she authored A History and Guide to the Monuments of Shiloh National Park. Jane D. Beal was a photographer for both the Shiloh and Chickamauga books.
The author’s academic accomplishments include receiving a Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University in Military History, and a Bachelor of Science in Historic Preservation from Southeast Missouri State University. She is currently an adjunct professor at Tulsa Community College. Previously, she was a museum director at the Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, and as a curator at the Fort Sill Army Museum, Sapulpa Historical Society and for the National Park Service.
In an interview, Dr. Reaves said that her latest book discusses one of the most visible aspects of the battlefield - the monuments. Chickamauga National Military Park was the first national military park established, and was the first that the veterans erected monuments to both sides. The book discusses the efforts of the veterans to erect the monuments, and the artists and monuments companies who created the artwork.
Dr. Reaves noted, “As the years went by, Civil War veterans felt a need to have monuments put up. They did not want those who died in battle to be forgotten. They wanted a lasting way to tell their story.”
This led to the building and erection of monuments, which resulted in a boon to the granite industry and to the artists who crafted the markers. In her research, she attempted to identify the artists, but unfortunately, many are lost to history.
In her book, Dr. Reaves focused on the monuments commissioned by various states. Union states were able to outspend the former Confederate states in placing monuments. The Iowa monument on US 27 at the Rossville Gap was a particularly expensive work.
A History and Guide to the Monuments of Chickamauga National Military Park is available for purchase at the visitors’ centers at the Chickamauga Battlefield and Point Park. Proceeds from the book will go to the park for preservation of the monuments. Dr. Reaves will be in the Chattanooga area during upcoming Civil War sesquicentennial events for book signings.