Gen. George H. Thomas established a cemetery here on December 25, 1863, "to provide a proper resting place for the remains of the brave men ho fell upon the fields" of Chattanooga.
The grounds, some 120 acres southwest of the city, were huge in comparison to other early military cemeteries. A stone wall enclosed 75 acres, where four miles of roadway meandered through eighteen picturesque burial sections. A central hill was reserved for the flagstaff and cannon monuments. The natural terrain influenced the landscape design, resulting in irregular-shaped sections that still define the cemetery.
In 1867, this was designated Chattanooga National Cemetery. The 1874 army inspection reported 12,928 interments here, 4,860 unknown.
There are two Civil War monuments. Members of the 4th Army Corps erected a granite obelisk (between sections C and F) in 1868 to honor fallen comrades.
In 1880, a 32-foot-tall Neoclassical archway was erected at the original cemetery entrance. It is one of five monumental arches the army built in southern national cemeteries.
(caption) Watercolor depiction of Section E, c 1870s. National Archives and Records Administration.
Civil War Chattanooga
Following a defeat at Chickamauga,
Georgia, in September 1863, the Union Army retreated to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Confederate forces laid siege to the city, and for a month both sides tried to gain the advantage. Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant secured a supply line on nearby Missionary Ridge.
In a series of engagements that began November 23, 1863, Grant's troops were victorious. Two days later they attacked Missionary Ridge. The assault succeeded once Union troops were able to scale the ridge and pierce the Confederate line. The Confederates retreated down the east side of the ridge, ending the battle on November 25.
(caption) The Battle of Chattanooga, L. Prang & Co., 1880, Library of Congress.
On April 12, 1862, Kentucky civilian James J. Andrews led a daring raid. Andrews, another civilian, and twenty Union Soldiers from the 2nd, 21st, and 33rd Ohio infantries made their way to Big Shanty (Kennesaw), Georgia, and stole the locomotive General. As the raiders steamed north towards Chattanooga, they burned railroad bridges, cut telegraph lines, and tore up track.
Relentless pursuit, bad weather, and poor luck ended their mission. Confederate forces eventually captured all the men. After being tried, Andrews and seven others were hanged as spies. Some raiders escaped. Others were exchanged for Confederate prisoners.
Nineteen soldiers received the Medal of Honor. Andrews and the other civilian were not eligible for the commendation.
(caption) Andrews and eight raiders are buried in Section H. In 1890, the State of Ohio erected a monument here that features a bronze replica of the General locomotive. This postcard shows surviving raiders at the monument in 1908. National Cemetery Administration.