Thursday, June 17, 2010

Marker for Virginia Troops Planned for Chickamauga

Virginia group seeking marker

A Southwest Virginia Civil War group hopes to accomplish in three years what its state legislators haven't been able to do in 115.

James Christman, a resident of Grayson County, Va., has launched a nonprofit group that aims to build a monument to his state's troops at Chickamauga Battlefield by that battle's 150th anniversary in 2013.

The Virginia Legislature voted in 1895 to authorize a monument to the state's troops at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park but never funded it.
A visit to the park inspired the effort, Mr. Christman said on the website

A Virginia group is planning to erect a monument to the 54th and 63rd Virginia Infantry regiements. These units served in the Confederate Army. "I looked at all the monuments on the battlefield and there was no marker for the 54th or the 63rd regiment," he said. "When I got home, I got to thinking about it. Other states had markers but Virginia didn't."

Attempts to reach Mr. Christman by phone Thursday were unsuccessful. Jim Ogden, historian at the park, said troops from 29 states were involved in Civil War action in or around Chattanooga and Chickamauga. Most have monuments, but states including Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine and West Virginia do not, he said.

Adding a new monument will be a challenge, Mr. Ogden said. He's had a different group approach him about building monuments nearly each of his 28 years at the park, and all have failed to meet National Park Service guidelines, he said. "There have not been many new monuments built in the last century in the national military park," Mr. Ogden said. "Most groups find that their ideas are not possible."

But Mr. Christman's group, called the 63rd and 54th Virginia Military Descendants Association, "has certainly gone at this point further than other groups have," Mr. Ogden said.
The park service guidelines say only states can build the monuments, which has disqualified most past efforts. This group, however, recently became an authorized agent of the state thanks to a bill written by Virginia state delegate Bill Carrico, a self-described "big Civil War buff."
The Virginia House of Delegates approved the resolution Feb. 19, and the Senate followed March 9.

On Thursday, Mr. Carrico said the group planned to raise about $60,000 and would design the monument based on input from the Park Service and the style of the other markers.
Mr. Ogden said the group has work to do but could get it done by the anniversary.
"They've got some time, but they're also going to have to do a fair amount of their homework and groundwork sooner rather than later," he said. "It's not an impossibility at this point."