LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (AP) - Wearing Union blue and leaning on a musket in the 3,000 acre Lookout Mountain Battlefield, Preston Brown said the government's $4.8 million outlay to make the park bigger is fine with him.
Brown, a Civil War re-enactor who lives near the Lookout Mountain Battlefield, switched from his usual Confederate gray for a demonstration at the dedication of a 382-acre park expansion.
Standing near monuments dedicated to troops who fought in the 1863 'Battle Above the Clouds,' Brown said Monday that the added acreage to the south and west of the mountaintop will keep getting more expensive than $12,600 an acre as time passes.
'We need to preserve the history now,' he said. 'It will be gone if we wait too long.'
Representatives of the National Park Service and The Trust for Public Land said at the ceremony dedicating the expansion area that federal appropriations over three years bought the land from CSX Railroad Co.
Rick Wood, director of the trust's Chattanooga office, thanked Republican U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp for securing the money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund supported by offshore oil and gas leases.
Wamp said preserving the park and its history 'celebrates our heritage and our culture. It tells us who we are and where we came from ... inspires our young people.'
Alexander told the dozens of people who attended that preserving such areas 'may not be at the top of our list when we vote but it's at the top of our values list.'
A National Park Service statement said the addition west of Lookout Mountain is the area where Union General Joseph Hooker on Nov. 24, 1863, ordered troops to advance eastward and up the mountain.
Aided by a dense fog, Hooker's soldiers pushed the Confederates out of their defenses.
The Confederates' departure cleared the way for a Union attack at Missionary Ridge that secured Chattanooga for the Union and allowed the start of the Union push into Georgia.
Steve Ellis, a spokesman for a nonpartisan, Washington,D.C.-based group that monitors government spending, said public value of such land purchases by the government must be individually evaluated.
'Preserving our history is an important role of our government,' Ellis said.
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