The band played ‘Dixie’ as Confederate POWs were marched to Camp Randall
What a spectacle it must have been that Sunday, April 20, 1862!
The Civil War had been raging for a full year, Wisconsin boys had mustered out of Camp Randall on the western edge of the village of Madison, population 6,611, leaving its bunkhouses — described as “mere sheds” — and small hospital largely empty.
Now they would be filled with 881 Confederate soldiers captured over 500 miles miles to the south on Island #10 in the Mississippi River, across from New Madrid, MO. In four more days, another 300 would join them. Likely they arrived at the train station on W. Washington Avenue or on Blair and Doty Streets.
“Madison citizens came pouring into the streets to see these men that they were convinced would look and act much differently from themselves. However, they were perhaps surprised to see little difference. Besides the fact that these new soldiers had on different uniforms, they looked no different than the boys Madison had seen leave them almost a year earlier.”
That’s according to Jesse Beckett of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, who wrote a research paper, heavily footnoted, under the supervision of two history professors. Her paper is titled, “Camp Randall, Alice Waterman, and the Culture of Death: Madison’s Steps to Reconnection.”
As [the Confederates in their gray uniforms] slowly made their way to Camp Randall, it is reported that bands playing music broke into “Dixie.” As the unofficial anthem of the South, the Confederate Soldiers entered into their new home with a little more bounce in their step.
Doctors and nurses worked to care for the sick men but for some, there was little hope. … Madison citizens also tried to help where they could. There are reports of locals bringing newspapers, jellies, pudding, and brandy to the Confederate soldiers. These were gifts that had been given to the Northern soldiers. Even though they were gone and replaced with Southern soldiers, the women did not seem to care.
Many having arrived in Madison already injured, 140 died and were buried in a corner of Forest Hill Cemetery on the outskirts of Madison.
From the late 1860s until her death, Alice Whiting Waterman returned to the graves to make sure that they were looking respectable. The boards she erected as headstones were made of wood. Throughout the numerous winter months in Madison, Wisconsin, the boards would become weathered and fall into disrepair. At her own expense, Waterman replaced the wooden boards three times . … It was her goal to build a monument in this small corner of Forest Hill Cemetery [however] she was unable to see her vision come to life.
Mrs. Waterman had been living in the home of a Union veteran Frank W. Oakley and his family at 524 N. Carroll St. It was there that her wake was held upon her death in 1897. The retired captain “decided that it was only right to continue working in her footsteps.”
“Soon after, researcher Oakley spent much of his energy in conversation with southern citizens to build a monument for Mrs. Waterman.”
Oakley reached out to fellow Union captain Hugh Lewis, a Madison resident then serving as an officer of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C. Lewis had lost an arm in battle.
Those who shed blood to save the Union and end slavery united with their defeated foes to honor a Madison woman, born in the South, for caring selflessly for the vanquished foe. How cheaply comes the virtue of today’s coffee shop rewriters of history.
‘We are one people, north and south’
UW-Eau Claire researcher Beckett quotes Oakley: “We thought it advisable to bring the matter to the attention of some prominent Confederates in Washington, to ascertain if some provisions could not be made by the different states to which these soldiers belonged, for the erection of a suitable monument to these Confederate dead, whereby their names and services may be preserved.
Committees throughout the southern part of the United States began to seek assistance and ask questions about how they could get involved in the work that was taking place in Forest Hill. One letter arrived to F.W. Oakley from a Mrs. M.J. Behan. She was a member of the Confederated Southern Memorial Association and was requesting information about Waterman. She said that the ladies she worked closely with were interested in helping to raise money and show their support.
“Rest assured, dear sir, that your noble conduct in caring for our beloved dead is deeply and truly appreciated by the people of the South and the Women of the Memorial Association. Thank you from the bottom of their hearts for doing the sacred work that distance alone has permitted them from doing.”
W.M. Laughlin sent $10 and two notes “I desire to add that such action as yours emulated and carried out by the ‘principals’ of both sides engaged in the late war, will do much towards wiping out all sectional feelings and Americanizing this whole country.”
A few days later, he penned another, “We are one people — no North/no South — and every effort should be made on the part of all Americans to make this a united, happy and prosperous country.”
Tell the Madison Council before it meets on Tuesday, May 1 not to dishonor the Civil War veterans on both sides who buried their hatred on this northern soil. E-mail all 20 Madison Alders
For some, this monument was more than just honoring Waterman. They, too, were looking for a way to begin to join the two separate pieces of the North and South together again. Harrison Granite Company wrote to F.W. Oakley offering potential sketches of a monument to be built.
‘Fervently supported civil rights’
Oakley had served as adjutant to Fairchild during the latter’s 1886-87 term as national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. Fairchild served as governor of Wisconsin 1866-72 after retiring as brigadier general in Wisconsin’s famed Iron Brigade, which suffered 77% casualties at Gettysburg and where Fairchild himself lost an arm.
Fairchild “fervently supported civil rights for blacks and vehemently opposed Rutherford B. Hayes for ‘appeasing’ southern segregationists in what he referred to as ‘the second civil war.’ He believed Reconstruction ended too early.”
In 1899, a letter came from the financial secretary of the Confederate Veterans Association, Camp 171 telling Oakley he was pretty sure the monument would be a success. Five years later, in 1904, the Daughters of the Confederacy were able to send $835 to Oakley to place in the fund for a monument.
On June 15, 1906, Union Captains Oakley and Lewis and other members of the Lucius Fairchild Post 11 dedicated the memorial, whose inscription reads, in its entirety:
“Erected in loving memory by United Daughters of Confederacy to Alice Whiting Waterman and her boys.”
That’s it. No rewrite of history. No lost cause nostalgia. No justification for slavery. The Daughters oversaw fund-raising for the stone at the request of veterans of the Union cause.