A monument dedication ceremony for United States Colored Troops who served in the Union Army during the U.S. Civil War and who helped to build Chattanooga National Cemetery will be held on Saturday, Dec. 4, at noon. It will be held at the Chattanooga National Cemetery, atop Great Circle of Honor. The ceremony is open to the public and CDC guidelines and COVID-19 safety precautions will be in place.
As part of the 2019 Chattanooga MLK Day of Service, the Unity Group and Coalition Partners, which included the National Park Partners, Mary Walker Historical Educational Foundation, and the 44th USCT Reenactment group, held a wreath laying ceremony at the Chattanooga National Cemetery. This was conducted in part to pay respectful tribute to the service and memory of the United States Colored Troops, and call for erecting a monument which conveyed their varied contributions in helping to preserve the Union.
In 2020, the Unity Group and city of Chattanooga began to collaborate on this project as part of the NEIGHBOROOTS Program, which is an initiative to help Chattanoogans recognize their neighborhood history through public art, performances, and historical markers. Likewise, Keith Monuments has played a role as part of the monument design team and as a project consultant.
Throughout the duration of the Civil War, African- Americans performed in a wide variety of details and functions including: rearguards, carpenters, chaplains, personal attendants, cooks, scouts, spies, steamboat pilots, and laborers which often included the burying of the dead. On Dec. 25, 1863, the Commander of the Cumberland, Gen. George H. Thomas -- “The Rock of Chickamauga” -- issued General Order 296 creating the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Cemetery and assigning oversight of the erection and completion to the Army's chaplain Thomas B. Van Horne. The USCT played a vital and instrumental role in the building and construction of the Chattanooga National Cemetery and burying fallen troops. USCT units stationed in and around Chattanooga would also serve with bravery and gallantry during many pivotal conflicts which helped to preserve the Union.