Union soldiers helped dedicate the Confederate Rest monument

Your Humble Squire shared his wisdom with three Madison agencies meeting jointly Tuesday night over the Confederate Rest monument issue at Forest Hill Cemetery. Those being the Park Commissioners, Landmark Commission, and Equal Opportunity Commission. They will ultimately decide the fate of two memorial stones erected there, one of which Mayor Soglin unilaterally had removed last summer.

The joint meeting attracted maybe 60 people to Warner Park Community Recreation Center, at 1625 Northport Drive, Tuesday night (1-30-18) — most of whom spoke in favor of keeping the large monument erected in 1906.

Sept 8, 1937

Well into his 90s, Union Civil War veteran C. H. William Ruhe lays a wreath at the Confederates Rest monument in the G.A.R. encampment of 1937. — Wisconsin State Journal, 8 September 1937

Mayor Soglin, it seemed to this observer (he being David Blaska!) broke the limits of hyperbole to suggest that that monument to Alice Whiting Waterman erected in 1906 was a devious plot by the Daughters of the Confederacy to further the South’s “Lost Cause” rewrite of history. Soglin actually lumped the Daughters with the KKK, which is a hyperbole, squared.


Alice Whiting Waterman, good samaritan

We have no doubt that the Daughters a century ago took a more benign view of their ancestors than the average Antifa crazy, today. But the monument at Forest Hill Cemetery is almost anodyne. It merely honors Ms. Waterman, unbidden, for selflessly tending to the graves of the 140 southern prisoners of war — “her boys” — buried there, perhaps in a mass grave, in 1862. That stone was the first permanent marker listing the names of all 140. The individual headstones came later, probably 1910. They replaced easily weathered wooden boards.


The clear consensus Tuesday is that the large Waterman stone should remain but that the smaller stone, placed in 1981 and removed last August, can go. It referred to the dead as “unsung heroes,” which does seem a bit much but, really, is hardly Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest (founder of the KKK) astride a rearing horse.

Need there be a tendentious explanatory panel to explain to present-day Madison that slavery was/is wrong? (Yes, Slavery Bad! Your homework: watch Twelve Years a Slave.) That is one option under consideration. If so, any additional plaque should, instead, recite history rather than indulge in superfluous indoctrination.

Any new posting should model the mounted history panels at Gettysburg. It could state the following:

“She found it a wilderness and made it blossom as a rose.
In this labor of love she has erected a lasting monument to herself.”
Wisconsin State Journal, 13 September 1897. 

Confederates Rest is the northernmost burial place of Confederate soldiers of the American Civil War. Here lie buried 140 prisoners of war, probably in a mass grave. They had been among 1,156 captured on the Mississippi River near New Madrid, Mo., and taken to Camp Randall in 1862 where they died shortly thereafter of their injuries and disease.

Before the current headstones were placed in 1910 to replace the original and oft-replaced wooden markers, the large granite monument at front center was installed and dedicated in 1906 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Lucius Fairchild Post 11 of the Grand Army of the Republic of Madison. — WSJ May 28, 1922.

It was the first permanent accounting of the fallen dead and particularly honors Alice Whiting Waterman. Born in Baton Rouge, La. in 1820, at age 9, she accompanied her parents to New York City. As an adult, she managed hostelries in Chicago and Milwaukee before moving to Madison in 1868 to manage the old Vilas Hotel. After 1883 Mrs. Waterman worked as a housekeeper and resided with a Union veteran’s family on N. Carroll St.

During her nearly 30 years in Madison Mrs. Waterman took it upon herself to tend to this burial place without government funding. The widow cleared each gravesite of weeds, placed mounds of earth above the graves, and planted trees and a hedge. She spent her last $500 to replace the wooden fence she had erected earlier with the low stone wall you see here.

At her own death in 1897, Mrs. Waterman was buried with “her boys” in a separate grave at the right front corner of Confederates Rest.

In her work, Mrs. Waterman attracted the support of  former Governor Lucius Fairchild [himself commander in chief of the GAR from 1886-87], Fred Phillips, and Captain Hugh Lewis — all one-armed veterans and members of the G.A.R. — Wisconsin State Journal, 29 May 1885. (Captain Lewis’ daughter would unveil the memorial stone in 1906.)

Fairchild’s successor Gov. Cadwallader Washburn, a general who served under Grant at Vicksburg, led a contingent of former Union soldiers to place flowers on the graves, thereby becoming the first northern governor to honor the Union’s erstwhile enemies buried in northern soil. For many years thereafter, Wisconsin governors continued to decorate these Confederate graves on Memorial Day. — Wisconsin Magazine of History and WSJ May 28, 1922.

At the 1937 National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic, GAR Commander in Chief C.H. William Ruhe laid a wreath at the UDC monument in an act of reconciliation thus making the monument part of GAR history and history of the country.

Perhaps your Squire lacks the mayor’s sinister bent, but we are not seeing the hate, only the malice toward none and charity for all.  If one-armed Union veterans could bind up the nation’s wounds, so can we.

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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15 Responses to Union soldiers helped dedicate the Confederate Rest monument

  1. Tom Paine says:

    Small correction: Twas “12 Years a Slave,” not 10. Book was used from 1976-2004 as a required high school text in Price County. Progressive instruction in the conservative heart of the Northwoods. And Madison or Middleton?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. wadwizard says:

    Hmmmmmm…Nathan B. Forrest founded the KKK? No way! That is a vile canard. The good general opposed the and testified against the “klan” in DC hearings, and was respected and honored by the Blacks of Memphis when he died. Also, “12 Years A Slave” is of the genre of Antebellum Abolitionist Propaganda (agitprop). It was written shortly after “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, and its original editions dedicated the book to Harriet Beecher Stowe. I wonder if Soglin’s ancestors were even in the US at the time of the Civil War?


    • David Blaska says:

      Nathan Bedford Forrest “was sworn in as one of the earliest members of the Ku Klux Klan. He became disillusioned, after a year or so, by the more radical ambitions and ungovernable membership of the rest of the Klan. In January 1869, Forrest issued General Order Number One, which decreed that “the masks and costumes of this Order be forever destroyed.” In the last years of his life, he publicly denounced the violence and racism practiced by the Klan.” — Wikipedia Gen. Forrest has also been implicated in the massacre of hundreds of black soldiers who had surrendered at Fort Pillow, although the degree of his culpability is debated.

      Liked by 1 person

      • wadwizard says:

        “Implicated in the massacre…”? ‘Weasel words! Are you a member of the mainstream media, or something? Actually, the KKK was a 1920’s organization, and marched under the Stars and stripes. The original “circle” organization was short-lived and a direct reaction to the Parson Brownlow radical reconstruction excesses. “Wikipedia” is hardly a reputable source. The records of the founding of the 1866 organization does not include the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest. I repeat, the allegation to the contrary is a VILE CANARD!!! P.S. I’m a fan….I just don’t care for the obsequious following of the erroneous PC line on this subject. Forrest was revered by the black community of Memphis.


        • David Blaska says:

          At least I have a source. Where is yours?

          But if you want another, how about Ron Chernow’s 2017 bio of Grant. Page 588: “By the time of the First Reconstruction Act, what had started out as a social club began to shade into a quasi-military organization, recruiting Nqthan Bedford Forest as a leader. … Before long, former privates in the Confederate army were taking orders from their old officers in the Klan.” As for Fort Pillow, page 373: “Grant like to quote the boastful dispatch Forrest filed after the episode: ‘The river was dyed with the blood of the slaughtered for 200 yards. … It is hoped that these facts will demonstrate to the Northern people that negro soldiers cannot cope with Southerners.'”

          I cannot verify Wikipedia’s account that Forrest recanted his racial views later in life.


        • wadwizard says:

          Hi, Dave, Did I tell you that I’m a great fan and admirer of yours? You asked me for a source for my observations. Fair enough, but let me suggest that the first casualty of war is the truth, war is hell, and that the victors write the history. But, I recommend primary sources and not biased secondary sources, like:

          Re: Forrest nor a Klan founder, leader or member:
          An 1871 United States Congressional Investigation completely exonerates Forrest and it was determined in the investigation that Forrest was not a leader of the KKK nor had ever been a leader, and additionally, that he was not ever a member of the Klan.
          The outcome of the 1871 investigation was twofold. The committee found no evidence that Forrest had participated in the formation of the Klan and that even the use of his name may well have been without his permission. They also found that there was no credible evidence that Forrest had ever participated in or directed any actions of the Klan.
          “The reports of Committees, House of Representatives, second session, forty-second congress,” P. 7-449
          Congressional records show that Gen. Forrest was absolved of all complicity in the founding or operation of the Ku Klux Klan, and he was certainly never a “Grand Wizard”. These committees had the utmost evidence and living witnesses at their disposal. The evidence precluded any Guilt or indictment of Gen. Forrest and the matter was closed before that body of final judgment in 1872. New York Times newspaper. Library of Congress.

          Re Fort Pillow:
          From Harper’s Weekly, April 30, 1864, Page; 283:
          We give on page 284 a sketch of the horrible MASSACRE AT FORT PILLOW. The annals of savage warfare nowhere record a more inhuman, fiendish butchery than this, perpetrated by the representatives of the ” superior civilization” of the States in rebellion. It can not be wondered at that our officers and soldiers in the West are determined to avenge, at all opportunities, the cold-blooded murder of their comrades ; and yet we can but contemplate with pain the savage practices which rebel inhumanity thus forces upon the service. The account of the massacre as telegraphed from Cairo is as follows :
          On the 12th inst. the rebel General Forrest appeared before Fort Pillow, near Columbus, Kentucky, attacking it with considerable vehemence. This was followed up by frequent demands for its surrender, which were refused by Major Booth, who commanded the fort. The fight was then continued up until 3 P.M., when Major Booth was killed, and the rebels, in large numbers, swarmed over the intrenchments. Up to that time comparatively few of our men had been killed; but immediately upon occupying the place the rebels commenced an indiscriminate butchery of the whites and blacks, including the wounded. Both white and black were bayoneted, shot, or sabred; even dead bodies were horribly mutilated, and children of seven and eight years, and several negro women killed in cold blood. Soldiiers unable to speak from wounds were shot dead, and their bodies rolled down the banks into the river. The dead and wounded negroes were piled in heaps and burned, and several citizens, who had joined our forces for protection, were killed or wounded. Out of the garrison of six hundred only two hundred remained alive. Three hundred of those massacred were negroes; five were buried alive. Six guns were captured by the rebels, and carried off, including two 10-pound Parrotts, and two 12-pound howitzers. A large amount of stores was destroyed or carried away.


  3. madisonexpat says:

    Sog and the Progs must divide us by race, gender, wealth etc. before they can do to Americans what Julius Caesar did to Gaul. God forbid E Pluribus Unum lest we be a sovereign nation, proud of our history and united by patriotism.
    Remember to defend our country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Remember why.


  4. madisonexpat says:

    The 7th Cavalry was sent to upstate SC in 1870 to arrest 180 Klansmen who had been terrorizing Black Republicans for 18 months.
    Also interesting to note the KKK marching in Madison WI in 1924 despite Dane County being 25% Catholic.


    • wadwizard says:

      Factoids: The “formal” short-lived post-war klan was anti-radical reconstruction governments in the South. The post-WWI Klan was all over the country and was essentially “anti-immigrant”. The most KKK lynchings in the 1920’s took place in Indiana, where there was a large KKK. Wisconsin also had a strong Klan in the 1920s, that marched under the Stars and Stripes. A man was murdered at a KKK march in Boscobel, Wisconsin.


      • David Blaska says:

        Again,no links. For convenience, look up Wikipedia, which is well footnoted and conforms to Chernow’s masterly work on Grant and his role in Reconstruction, which figured in not only federal prosecution of the Klan but also military action. He sicced General Phil Sheridan on the Klan and its imitators, including the White League and various “rifle clubs.” The 1915 movie Birth of a Nation, much loved by Woodrow Wilson, mythologized the Klan of 1869-71 and reignited the Klan for the 1920. That movie seems to be the basis of your rewrite of history. As for Fort Pillow, are you blaming over-zealous underlings instead of the commanding general? Did that general discipline his troops? In point of fact, Forrest was not the only Confederate to massacre black troops. That was a policy designed to terrorize blacks from enlisting in the Union cause.


  5. wadwizard says:

    I gave you contemporary evidence. I don’t research by going to Wiki. The evidence was gained by my hands-on research, and you have to dig to get information that is not distorted by modern mores and propaganda. Look up the references I gave you. If you want “links”, go to a butcher shop. The Chernow book is interesting, but it is still a biased interpretation of select facts, i.e., a “secondary source”. As for references to the post-WWI KKK in the Mid-West, there is an exhaustive thesis available in UW Memorial Library stacks. You can find it if you look. I am not doing a “rewrite” history, as you claim. I am giving primary contemporary accounts. Fort Pillow incident involved union forces rejecting multiple demands to surrender and suffering the consequences, white and black you will note from the 1864 Harpers piece. The conclusions of the 42nd Congressional investigation speaks for itself.


    • Tom Paine says:


      Seems like you’re a professional historian, or something closely related to one. I appreciate your contemporaneous research. I agree. That type of primary source material has much greater import than legions of ‘secondary’ views. These often are nothing more than re-affirmations of the conventional orthodoxy or explanation for some event or person.

      I resent Parks and Landmarks Commissions from every messing with any portion of the markers. My grandparents are resting in Forest Hill in a section segregated to Veterans of the Spanish American War. At some later date, perhaps long after I or my relatives are alive, some group of citizens might next embrace historical revisionism about the Spanish American War and seek to disinter all veterans for reburial in a local landfill. Who will oppose that if, I too, have long since passed?

      When the SJWarriors move beyond the Confederate dead, will they next select Native American mounds because NA’s practiced cannibalism, a politically incorrect practice? Lest some dispute that claim, I recommend reading Étienne Brûlé.


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