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At the Bivouac of Memory

History, Politics, and the Battle of Chickamauga


James Kaser

Reinterpretations of the Civil War current in the 1880s and 1890s often included discussion of the Battle of Chickamauga. In retrospect, the battle was seen as a victory by both sides and was used to promote the popular theme that Union and Confederate soldiers had been equally noble and heroic. To aid in reconciliation, highly publicized reunions of Confederate and Union veterans were held on the battlefield and, in 1895, the ground was dedicated as the country's first national military park, becoming a commemorative landscape promoting reunification. Utilizing battle accounts by members of the Twenty-first Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry and contrasting them with published histories of the battle, this study analyzes how personal memories of the battle were subsumed in the creation of a cultural myth driven by the political necessity of reunifying the country.