Don't Discount A Peacemaker - And Response

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Removing the bust of Lt. Gen. A.P. Stewart would discount the many efforts made after the Civil War and Reconstruction from veterans of both sides to move sectional disagreements and resentments aside, and march forward as a unified nation.  

A.P. Stewart's story is one of a Tennessean who reluctantly took up arms against the Union only to defend hearth and home; an anti-slavery Southerner who had no stake in the evil institution; a man who dedicated many years to the formation of our beloved Chickamauga-Chattanooga military park; a university chancellor; a civic leader; and a man who was deeply respected by veterans on both sides of our bloody Civil War for his efforts to reconcile sons of the South with sons of the North.


General Stewart's bust could and should be seen by every elementary school student in Hamilton County as a symbol of what makes our community so strong: our willingness to move forward together as neighbors despite differences of background or affiliation.

W. Andrew Clark  


* * * 

A resolution is apparently being considered by one of our county commissioners to fall in line with all the other unoriginal thoughts to remove a statue of a Confederate soldier that sits in front of the Hamilton County Courthouse----General A. P Stewart. Given the hysteria of monument trashing over these past few months it really comes as no surprise that General Stewart has been targeted.
However: Let me ask this question and please be honest about your answer:  

Before today would you have known the name of the person depicted by the monument? 
If not I would assume its presence over these years has caused you no ill will or emotional harm? 
If you did know whose name was on the monument, why would you say his name/monument has been placed in front of the Hamilton County Courthouse?  

If your first response is that he was from Hamilton County, then go to the back of line. Stewart is from Tennessee but was born In Rogersville/ Hawkins County.  

So why does Hamilton County honor him?

Local attorney and writer, Sam Davis Elliott, published a biography on Stewart, Soldier of Tennessee, published in 1999. Elliott can eloquently share more details about this somewhat obscure Confederate General than I could.  

However, without permission I will share the last few lines in Elliott’s biography of Stewart who was by the way a staunch anti-secessionist prior to the war.  

“….Stewart’s other great peacetime legacy is the Chickamauga- Chattanooga National Military Park. A wonderful example of historic preservation, created in a joint effort with former enemies such as Fullerton, Smith, and Boynton, the park is an enduring memorial to the men who fought there.”  

Stewart was obviously instrumental in bringing about a post war healing between both sides. The Chickamauga Military park was one of the four battle sites approved in 1890 by the U.S. Congress but Chickamauga was the first and is the largest National Military Park.    

Apparently Stewart’s efforts to bring all people together are not a shared objective by some today?  

Gary Davis
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