By Joey Oller
Above: The Kentucky monument at Chickamauga, Georgia during the 2009 anniversray event in September. Notice that the monument has been vandalized over the years, several of the cannonballs are missing.
Up until the 1970s, the monument at Chickamauga was the only one Kentucky had erected on a battlefield. In 1974, Kentucky dedicated a state monument at the Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee. The driving force behind this monument was started by the Ky. Girlscouts who began raising funds by collecting bottlecaps with the state givernment assisting with the final amount. In 2001, Kentucky did erect perhaps the most controversal monument at Vicksburg, which has statues of both Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln standing inches apart on a marble platform.
In September of 1863, Union and Confederate soldiers met the battlefield of Chickamauga, near the town of Chattanooga: the “Gateway to the Deep South.” The Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park was established by Congress in 1890 to commemorate the battle and preserve the area for study by military historians. The site includes more than 1,400 historical markers and monuments, many of which were placed by veterans of the campaigns. One of the most popular sites visitors tour is the site of Breckinridge’s Assault, an area where the most of the Kentucky brigade were situated during the battle and where Maj. General John C. Breckinridge led the first Confederate assaults of the decisive second day of the battle.
On May 3, 1899, the commonwealth of Kentucky erectd a granite monument at the Chickamauga National Military Park in Georgia. The ceremony was very imposing, with Kentucky Governor Bradley, along with other prominent citizens of the state attending, which also included members of the United Confederate Veterans, Sons and Daughters organizations. Major Thomas Hayes of the Kentucky Commision, in an address, formally tendered the monument to Gov. Bradley and the people of the commonwealth. In the acceptance address, Gov. Bradley said:
“Kentucky has evinced no partiality in the evidence of loving remeberance. It carries with it no heart burning, no jealousy, no invidious distinction. It is not an emblem of honor to the victor and and reproach to the vanquished, but an equal tribute to the worth of all. In future, the descendants of chivalrous Confederates may proudly gaze upon it, realizing that the state has honored their ancestors, and although their cause was lost, their heroism is revered and their memories perpetuated. And the sons of the brave men who fought on the other side may look upon it with equal pride, feeling that it fitly commemorates the gallant deeds of their illustrious ancestors , who preserved the Nation from destruction. May it endure forever, standing guard over victor and vanquished, with the statue that surmounts it, in one hand holding the torch of liberity shedding abroad its benign rays, in the other grasping the people, ready and anxious at all times to uphold the integrity of one country, and to drive, wounded and bleeding, from its shores any insolent foe that shall ever dare invade them.”
The monument was accepted for the US Government by Gen. H. V. Boynton, President of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park Commission. The monument erected to the memory Kentuckians who wore both the blue and the gray is said to be one of the “handsomest” in the park.