The first casualties of the War
Between the States arrived in Chattanooga in February of 1862 from
evacuated hospitals in Nashville due to the fall of Fort Donelson.
General Johnston called Dr. Samuel H. Stout to take charge of the
hospital facilities in Chattanooga. He came in March and found only one
hospital,. the Academy Hospital on a spur of Cameron Hill. He soon
upgraded that and opened the Newsom Hospital. When General Braxton Bragg
came to Chattanooga, he inspected these two hospitals, found them in
good order (unusual for Bragg), and placed Dr. Stout in charge of the
general hospitals in his Department of the Army of Tennessee.
As Bragg's forces gathered in
Chattanooga, the need for more facilities became apparent, and Dr. Stout
opened other hospitals in the area, including the Gilmer Hospital also
on Cameron Hill, the Bragg at Ringgold, the Buckner, the Withers
Hospital at Tyner's Station (the Silverdale Confederate Cemetery holds
the remains of men who died at that hospital), the Crutchfield House,
which became known as Foard's Hospital, and others in Cleveland, Tunnel
Hill, Catoosa Springs, Dalton and Atlanta.
The boom of cannons and the rattle of
musketry on New Year's of 1863 brought a wave of wounded by train from
the Battle of Murfreesboro that overflowed the Chattanooga hospitals.
Every available building was appropriated: practically every church,
every hotel and every public building, including warehouses. Bragg's men
were coming in rags and often barefoot. Small-pox struck, and the
countryside was filled with bushwhackers. It was only safe for soldiers
to travel in large groups. Local residents took up collections of
blankets, clothing, beds and bed linens, chickens, butter, milk and
vegetables. No ice was to be found. Drinking water became scarce as only
one well just off Market Street at 6th served everyone.
In February of 1863, Bragg made Dr.
Stout Medical Director of all the General Hospitals of the Army in the
Department of Tennessee. But in June, Bragg gave Stout the word to begin
evacuating Chattanooga. Union General Rosecrans was pushing this way.
Stout instituted a plan that mobilized a whole hospital unit, minus the
building, to a new location. Those men who died in Chattanooga
Confederate Hospitals were originally buried in a plot of ground beside
the river, in the vicinity of the current Manker Patten Tennis Club. But
the river rose and fell over some of the graves and the wooden
headboards were lost for about 141 of them. The ground came to be partly
a pasture and partly a ball field. After the war, the veterans sought to
move the graves to higher ground and purchased for $750 the northern
portion of the current site from George W. Gardenhire in 1867. A man
named Sively was employed to disinter the remains and box up the bones
and re-bury them in this new site.
In the 1880's a trustee system was set
in place for management of the cemetery in co-operation with the City of
Chattanooga, with designated trustees being descendants of Confederate
soldiers and the City as a trustee. In the 1890's various Confederate
burials were found during work for the Chickamauga and Chattanooga
National Military Park and they were re-interred in the Chattanooga
In 1901, it was decided by the United
Confederate Veterans and the A. P. Stewart Chapter of the Daughters of
the Confederacy that more ground was needed for the remaining veterans
and their wives. Mr. Francis M. Gardenhire deeded over the southern end
of the plot for one dollar provided that it was only to be used for a
Confederate Cemetery. The limestone gate and wrought iron battle flag
gate, designed by Lawrence Thompson Dickinson, were erected in 1901 and
dedicated the following year.
Since there was no way to know exactly
where any individual's remains were re-interred in the northern section,
the tablets you see in that section were placed in 1913 to identify the
known names in alphabetical order, by the state and regiment which they
served. Where names could not be related to command or state, they were
placed separately. The list had been provided in 1876 by R. L. Watkins
who assisted in the removal from the original site to this present one.
In the years 1890, 1913, 1921, 1934,
1942, 1945 and 1947, the City of Chattanooga hosted the annual reunion
of the United Confederate Veterans with the old cemetery being a
prominent feature of each reunion. In the 1950's, the last associate
member (son of a veteran) of the Confederate Veterans camp died, leaving
the City of Chattanooga as sole trustee.
Around 1992, the Trustee situation and
the decaying condition of the cemetery was brought to the attention of
Mayor Gene Roberts. He authorized City co-operation with
descendants of Confederate veterans to maintain and upgrade the
cemetery. In 1994, funds were raised by members of the local Sons of
Confederate Veterans and Military Order of the Stars and Bars and
restoration of the cemetery began. Monuments were uncovered where grass
had grown over them; cast iron plaques were scraped and painted;
monuments were up-righted, repaired, and cleaned; a new roster of burials
was made and placed on the internet; additional stones were placed for
burials known to be there from obituaries but had no stone present and
various and other sundry maintenance procedures were done. Much of this
work was done by volunteers with the co-operation and help of the City
of Chattanooga. The centerpiece of the restoration is the repair and
restoration of the cast iron gates at the entrance of the cemetery and
which represent the Confederate battle flag. In 1995, the restored
cemetery was rededicated with attendees from all over the South.
the year 2000, the last burial in the cemetery involved the remains of a
soldier found during the excavation for a swimming pool on Missionary
Ridge around that time. While he was unknown as to being a Northern or
Southern soldier, it was felt he most likely was a Confederate and thus
was buried in the Confederate Cemetery. This also followed the tradition
established when bodies were found during work in the National Park in
The names of some of the veterans
interred from the large monument down toward the entry gate may be
recognized by Chattanoogans today. Captain S. J. A. Frazier was the
developer of a part town originally called "Hill City" but now
known as North Chattanooga. He donated $10,000 for the building of a
bridge across the river, now known as the Walnut Street Bridge. Frazier
Avenue is named for him. Colonel J. C. Nisbet wrote a book entitled Four
Years on the Firing Line. Benjamin Lloyd Goulding was a member of the
"lmmortal 600" human shields used by the Union in Charleston,
South Carolina, weighed only 81 pounds when paroled. He became the
founder of the first Weather Bureau in Chattanooga.
There are others whose names may not
be as familiar to modern residents, but who have fascinating stories.
Shadrick Searcy is one buried here, who started the war as a body
servant to two brothers named Searcy from Talbotton, Georgia. Both
joined the 46th Georgia Infantry and Shadrick went with them. William
was killed at Kennesaw and James was killed at Franklin. Shadrick stayed
with the Army of Tennessee until the surrender in Greensboro, North
Carolina, in April of 1865. He settled in Chattanooga and received a
Tennessee State Confederate Pension until his death in 1936.
Another is Sgt. Edward J. Wentworth of
the 19th Michigan Infantry, Union army, who was on his way to a
military prison but was off loaded from a train in Chattanooga because
he was so weak and near death. The staff at Academy Hospital tried in
vain to save him, and he died in April of 1863. He was buried at peace
with his former enemies. Generally, you won't find Union Soldiers
buried in Confederate cemeteries.
The Chattanooga Confederate Cemetery
is not only a resting place for some of the finest men who ever graced
our city, but it is also a treasure trove of our history. Those who
would minimize the importance of the life stories resting there should
remember the words of George Santayana (1863-1952), U. S. philosopher
and poet: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to