published Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Virginians advance on battle marker

by Andy Johns

The group working to erect a monument to Virginia troops at the Chickamauga Battlefield now has a rough of idea of what the marker would look like.

James Christman, who is heading up the effort, envisions a 10-foot-tall granite slab set on Snodgrass Hill, covered with inscriptions and topped with two bronze infantry soldiers.

Mr. Christman and Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park historian Jim Ogden say the plan is ambitious but doable.

“Neither one of us want this to be a glorified tombstone,” Mr. Christman said.

His group, the 63rd and 54th Virginia Military Descendants Association, aims to have the monument up by the Battle of Chickamauga’s 150th anniversary in 2013. Troops from 29 states were involved in action in or around Chattanooga and Chickamauga. Most have monuments, but states including Virginia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Maine and West Virginia do not.

The Virginia Legislature voted in 1895 to authorize a monument to the state’s troops at Chickamauga but never funded it.

At Mr. Christman’s request, the Virginia House and Senate passed resolutions this spring authorizing the group to build the monument, which Mr. Ogden said clears a major hurdle that has trapped other groups in the past.

Mr. Ogden said different groups have approached him about building monuments in nearly each of his 28 years at the park, but the Virginia group has made more progress than the others.

Mr. Christman said the new marker will probably cost closer to $100,000 than the $60,000 originally planned.

“Really and truly the only way we can fail is in the fundraising,” he said.

He said he hopes to get plans to a Memphis monument company later this summer or fall.

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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