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The blue and the gray United. The Chickamauga Memorial Association.

In December last a patriotic movement, which is enlisting warm and general interest, was inaugurated in Washington, D. C., to organize a joint memorial association of Union and Confederate veterans, to acquire and preserve the battlefield of Chickamauga and mark it with suitable tablets and monuments.

Its claims were earnestly pressed in a communication (which is herewith reproduced) to the Cincinnati Commercial Gazette of December 8th last, from General H. V. Boynton, of Washington, D. C., whose efforts towards organization have since been untiring:

The idea originated at the recent reunion of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland at Chicago. A committee was appointed to take the matter into consideration and report to the Society next September at its meeting at Chattanooga. A conference will soon be held at Washington between representatives of that committee and ex-Confederate officers who served on that field, with a view of considering a plan and taking immediate preliminary steps toward its accomplishment. Some of the most distinguished of these officers are now in Congress or the Departments. Those who have thus far considered the matter have in mind an organization formed after the general plan of the Gettysburg Memorial Association, only differing from it in any essential feature in its being a joint association of both Union and Confederate veterans, and in having all States, North and South, concerned in the project that had troops engaged on that field, provided they make appropriations to mark the positions of their soldiers with appropriate monuments or tablets.

There is no other great battlefield of the war where Northern and Southern veterans could meet harmoniously and with equal satisfaction to preserve the field of their magnificent fighting. The Union army fought there for Chattanooga and won it. The Confederate [340] army held the field. Its preservation as one of the great historical fields of the war would signify for both sides, more than anything else, the indelible marking of the theater upon which each of the two armies engaged performed as stubborn, brilliant, and bloody fighting as was done upon any of the great battlefields of the war. The project is based upon the belief that the time has fully come when the participants in the great battles of our civil war can, while retaining and freely expressing their own views of all questions connected with the war, still study its notable battles purely as military movements. There is no other general enagagement in which the percentage of losses for each army was so great. There was no engagement in the great battles of modern Europe where the proportionate losses were as great as those of both sides at Chickamauga. The total loss of each army was over twenty-five per cent. of all engaged. General Longstreet's loss, chiefly incurred in four hours of one day's fighting, was thirty-six per cent. To illustrate this feature of the project, a brief recapitulation of facts heretofore stated in this correspondence will amply suffice:

The casualties in Jackson's brigade of Cleburne's division, which assaulted on Baird's front, was thirty-five per cent., while the Fifth Georgia of that brigade lost fifty-five per cent., and the First Confederate Regulars forty-three per cent. Gregg's brigade, of Buckner's corps, lost 653 out of 1,425. Helm's Kentucky brigade, on the Union left, lost seventy-five per cent. of its strength. Bate's brigade lost seven officers killed and sixty-one officers wounded, and the total casualties were 607 out of 1,316. All his field officers except three were killed or wounded. The losses in Govan's brigade, of Walker's corps, exceeded fifty per cent. Deas, who fought in front of Steadman's assault, lost 745 out of 1,942. Walthall, of Walker, lost 705 out of 1,727. On the Union side, Steadman in four hours lost 1,787 out of 3,700, and all were killed and wounded but one. Brannan's division had 4,998 engaged. Its casualties were 2,174, or thirty-eight per cent. The loss in Van DerVeer's brigade, of this division, in four regiments and one battery, was 840 out of 1,788 engaged, or forty-nine per cent. Croxton's brigade, of the same division, made up of five regiments, lost 938. Of Van DerVeer's regiments, the Ninth Ohio lost fifty per cent., the Thirty-fifth Ohio a small fraction less than fifty per cent., the Second Minnesota 192, or exactly fifty per cent., and the Eighty-seventh Indiana about half of its number. General Wood lost 1,070 in two brigades.

These figures become the more significant when compared with [341] the statement of losses in the world's noted battles. General Wheeler, the distinguished Confederate cavalry commander, thus vividly presented this question at the gathering of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland and Confederates at Chattanooga in 1881:

Waterloo was one of the most desperate and bloody fields chronicled in European history, yet Wellington's casualties were less than twelve per cent., his losses being 2,432 killed and 9,528 wounded out of 90,000 men; while at Shiloh, the first great battle in which General Grant was engaged, one side lost in killed and wounded 9,740 out of 33,000, while their opponents reported their killed and wounded 9,616, making the casualties about thirty per cent. At the great battle of Wagram Napoleon lost but about five per cent. At Wurzburg the French lost but three and a half per cent., and yet the army gave up the field and retreated to the Rhine. At Racour Marshal Saxe lost but two and a half per cent. At Zurich Massena lost but eight per cent. At Lagriz Frederick lost but six and a half per cent. At Malplaquet Marlborough lost but ten per cent., and at Ramillies the same intrepid commander lost but six per cent. At Contras Henry of Navarre was reported as cut to pieces, yet his loss was less than ten per cent. At Lodi Napoleon lost one and one-fourth per cent. At Valmy Frederick lost but three per cent., and at the great battles of Marengo and Austerlitz, sanguinary as they were, Napoleon lost an average of less than fourteen and a half per cent. At Magenta and Solferino, in 1859, the average loss of both armies was less than nine per cent. At Koniggratz, in 1866, it was six per cent. At Worth, Specheran, Mars la Tour, Gravelotte and Sedan, in 1870, the average loss was twelve per cent.

At Linden General Moreau lost but four per cent., and the Archduke John lost but seven per cent. in killed and wounded. Americans can scarcely call this a lively skirmish. At Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Atlanta, Gettysburg, Missionary Ridge, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania, the loss frequently reached and sometimes exceeded forty per cent., and the average of killed and wounded, on one side or the other, was over thirty per cent.

And when it is considered that this degree of bitter fighting was persistently maintained by both sides throughout the two entire days without any defensive works deserving of the name, and for the most part without any at all, except as the natural features of the ground supplied them in part to the Union side, it is readily seen that there is no other field of the war which more fully illustrates the indomitable courage and all the varied fighting qualities of the American [342] veteran. A large number of organizations on both sides in that battle came out of it with a loss of every other man who entered it killed or wounded.

The assaults on the Confederate side were without parallel in the war. Longstreet's charge at Gettysburg was a single effort. But Longstreet's entire wing at Chickamauga assaulted time and again on far more difficult ground than the slopes of Cemetery Hill. There were three general assaults which each deserve to rank with Pickett's charge, while the Union defence of Horseshoe Ridge is without parallel in the war. So thin a line of heroes never before successfully withstood such tremendous assaults. Of the whole battle, from opening to close, there was never truer thing written than General Hindman's words in regard to his conflict with Granger's troops: ‘I have never known Federal troops to fight so well. It is just to say, also, that I never saw Confederate soldiers fight better.’ And Kershaw, of Longstreet's Virginia troops, who had seen all the fighting in the Army of Northern Virginia, said of one of the Confederate assaults which Brannan repulsed: ‘This was one of the heaviest attacks of the war on a single point.’

Surely the ground of such fighting deserves to be preserved for pilgrimages and historic study. To illustrate the attainments of soldierly endeavor with which the veterans of each army distinguished themselves in our war, there is no spot of fighting ground in which each can take a greater pride.

It is a field where no material changes have occurred since the battle. The roads and farm clearings, the wood and the farm-houses remain almost the same. The necessary work of restoration would consist only in clearing out underbrush at a few points.

A brief statement of the organization and purposes of the Gettysburg Memorial Association will aid in indicating the general outlines of a plan which will apply, with modifications to be mentioned, to the field of Chickamauga: The Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association was formed for the purpose of holding and preserving the battle-grounds of Gettysburg, with their natural and artificial defences, and perpetuate the same, with such memorial structures as might be erected thereon in commemoration of the heroic deeds and achievements of the actors in that great contest.

It was incorporated by act of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, approved April 30, 1864, by which act, and a supplement thereto, approved April 24, 1866, ample powers and authority are conferred for the accomplishment of its purposes, including the purchase of [343] lands, laying out of roads and avenues, the erection of suitable memorial structures, etc. The property of the Association ‘shall not be subject to attachment or execution, and the lands acquired for the purpose of said Association, with its personal property and the improvements and appurtenances, shall be forever exempt from taxation and also from the payment of an enrollment tax.’

The Association is managed by a President and Board of twenty-one Directors, elected annually by the members, together with the ex-officio Directors from States contributing to its support. The membership fee is ten dollars, entitling the party to a handsome steel-plated engraved certificate, a vote in person or by proxy in the election of officers of the Association, and participation in its general management. A large majority of the certificates of membership are now held by veterans and Posts of the Grand Army of the Republic, who thereby control the franchises of the Association. Its aims and purposes are national, with a membership widely scattered over different States.

By the charter the Governor of Pennsylvania is made ex-officio President of the Association, and the Governors of such States as shall, by legislative appropriation, contribute funds for its support are made ex-officio members of the Board of Directors, with power (if unable to be present) to substitute, under the official seal of the State, some one of its citizens to represent the State in the meetings of this Board. In furtherance of its design, the Association, from time to time, as funds in the treasury justified, has purchased land, and now holds in fee simple nearly five hundred acres, embracing the grove where General Reynolds fell, the two Round Tops, the Wheat Field, East Cemetery Hill, Culp's Hill, the entire Union line of battle from Cemetery Hill to Round Top, the Union line of battle from Fairfield road to Mummasburg road, etc. It has also the care and custody of about forty acres of land owned by General Crawford, including the ‘Devil's Den’ and the ground lying between the Wheat Field and the Round Tops. About thirteen miles of driveway along the Union lines, reaching various points of interest, have been constructed, a large portion of which is substantially inclosed with wire fence.

In the case of Chickamauga the incorporation of the Association would be under the laws of Georgia. The Governors of each State that might co-operate would be members of the Board of Directors. In the Union army eleven States had troops in the battle, besides the forces of the regular army. In the Confederate army every Confederate State and Kentucky and Missouri were represented. [344] The Union army had one hundred and ninety-five separate organizations on the field, of which thirty-six were batteries. The Confederate army had two hundred and seventy-four organizations, of which fifty were batteries. The Confederate regulars were also represented by six organizations.

These were divided among the States as follows:

Union—Illinois, 36; Indiana, 42; Kansas, 2; Kentucky, 18; Michigan, 8; Minnesota, 2; Missouri, 3; Ohio, 56; Pennsylvania, 7; Wisconsin, 9; Tennessee, 2; United States regulars, 9.

Confederate—Alabama, 43; Arkansas, 17; Florida, 7; Georgia, 35; Kentucky, 7; Louisiana, 13; Mississippi, 21; Missouri, 2; North Carolina, 4; South Carolina, 18; Tennessee, 68; Texas, 18; Virginia, 7; Confederate regulars, 6.

The Directors of the Gettysburg Association include the Governors of the contributing Northern States and the officers of those Grand Army Posts and other like military societies which have taken part in the work. The Chickamauga Association would be a much more comprehensive organization.

The incorporators would probably include two or three veterans, who were distinguished on the field, from each of the States which had troops there. If it were thought best to purchase the whole field, or such portions of it as could be obtained, the first cost to each State interested would be a trifle. The general government is also a party in interest. If the ground should be purchased, there would be no need of the present occupants changing either residence or their farm operations. It would in every sense be better to have them remain on the field. There might be remission of taxes, or proper slight annual payments as return for the limitations upon materially changing the natural features which might be necessary. But all these will be matters of discussion at the forthcoming conference. In any view, the movement cannot but prove of great advantage to all present owners. Once established, and taken in connection with the scenes of deepest military interest about Chattanooga—where the grandest spectacular battles of the war raged for three days—these fields would soon become a point of national resort; and no better place to study the fighting powers of American soldiers, or to become possessed with a comprehensive knowledge of some of the most brilliant deeds of arms in the story of wars, can anywhere be found.

H. V. B.

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