Cost may delay monument

Cost may delay monument

November 10th, 2010 by Andy Johns in News

A group of Civil War-soldier descendants in Virginia got artists' renderings of what a monument honoring their ancestors could look like.

They also got a shock with the estimate for how much the job would cost.

James Christman, who heads the 63rd and 54th Virginia Infantry Descendants Association, said his group got two artists' ideas for the sculpture that the group hopes to put at Chickamauga Battlefield. It selected sculptor Ron Tunison's rendering of two bronze soldiers running with weapons.

Both artists estimated the monument would cost about $250,000, which is more than double the $60,000 to $100,000 the group originally expected.

"That's the not-good news," Christman said.

Christman, a resident of Grayson County, Va., launched a nonprofit group in June with hopes of building a monument by the Battle of Chickamauga's 150th anniversary in 2013. The Virginia Legislature voted in 1895 to authorize a monument to the state's troops at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park but never funded it.

Christman said the cost is a big obstacle, but the group would not scale the monument back to a "glorified tombstone."

"We're still going to go with our original proposal, with the only caveat being that we may not make our three-year deadline," he said. "We aren't going to quit; we just may be delayed."

The monument would be 16 feet tall, including the 6-foot figures and a 10-foot-tall granite base, Christman said.

Jim Ogden, historian at the military park, has said he gets queries from groups about building monuments, but Christman's group had gotten further than any of the others by being authorized by Virginia.

He declined to comment on the rendering, but said the group has time to get the statue up if it can secure funding.

After several informal discussions with Christman, Ogden received an official letter stating the group's intent two weeks ago.

From here the project must be evaluated under the original law that created the military park -- the first in the nation -- and the policy guidelines by the U.S. National Park Service before being approved.

But the approval doesn't matter if there's not enough financial support, Christman said.

"The realist in me knows we're talking about a big chunk of money in an economically depressed time," he said.

Contact staff writer Andy Johns at or call 423-757-6324.