Union dead honored at Forest Hill Cemetery, then Confederate


What would Ald. Matt Phair and the Madison Common Council say!

It was a beautiful Monday morning at Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison where history was remembered, and honored, on Memorial Day.

Handshake Union-Confederate

North greets South on Memorial Day in Madison WI; Representing the South at right are L-R Chris Morgan of Tennessee (originally, Green Bay), Bob Allen of Racine County (originally Texas), and Dan Bradford of Sun Prairie whose ancestors fought on both sides of the Civil War. That’s Confederate Rest in the background.

The most touching moment was when a Union re-enactor from the Civil War strode south from Union Rest, where memorial ceremonies conducted on the 150th anniversary of Decoration Day (now Memorial Day) had just concluded, past the imposing mausoleum structure to Confederate Rest. There, he shook hands with three Confederate re-enactors as they began their remembrance. (Pictured above.)

After appropriate speeches, Union and Revolutionary War re-enactors fired a volley over the besieged Confederates Rest cemetery followed by another volley, on the other side, from white-shirted Legionnaires and the playing of “Taps” to close the ceremony. 

“I appreciate the people from Union Rest coming over here,” said Dan Bradford, who lives in Sun Prairie and has ancestors who fought with the blue and others who fought with the gray. 

We saw no elected Madison official — no mayor, no alder (certainly not Ald. Matt Phair, who knows more history than the rest of the world combined). For they have voted to banish the first permanent marker naming the 140 dead and honoring the Madison woman who cared for those graves. At first, she did so alone; soon, she was joined by her fellow Madisonians, including two governors in their turn: first, Gen. Lucius Fairchild, who lost an arm at Gettysburg, then by Gen. Cadwallader Washburn, who served under Grant at Vicksburg and many other Madisonians.

Monday in Madison, a 70-year-old Air Force veteran of the Vietnam era, Al Zeuner of Oregon, stood unsteadily in front of the memorial stone to Alice Whiting Waterman who tended the graves of the 140 Confederate POWs buried there. The purpose of this Memorial Day (we are condensing) was to “Honor Americans, all Americans. The Civil War was a mistake. No politician can change what happened. We are very grateful of you people for being here in honor of our fallen. … I served my country, I’ve got the medals to prove it. … We are not a bunch of hot heads.” 

Of the 140 southern POWs buried at Confederate Rest, Bradford said:

“They came here not of their own volition, but as prisoners of war. The people of this city came to see them at the train depot; they did not see the great horned devils they thought they would see but wounded and sick men. Shocked to see their condition. The people here, seeing this, brought clothing, blankets, and medicine to take care of them. I’d like to know what happened between then and now because of a particular individual in the city — we have a mayor now who speaks out of ignorance; who does not know the history. … [the southern dead] been declared to be American soldiers, American veterans, by Congress and before that, by President Lincoln.”

I hope the following video clips portray a sense of the commonality of loss and remembrance on display at Union Rest and Confederate Rest in Madison WI on 05-31-18.

Ann of Althouse has an account with photographs from the Venerable Meade.

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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21 Responses to Union dead honored at Forest Hill Cemetery, then Confederate

  1. Scott F says:

    Make no mistake……This shame rests squarely on Paul Soglin….


  2. Batman says:

    Paul Soglin experiences no shame. He sleeps like a baby snuggly wrapped in his virtue blanket dreaming of childhood romps with Fidel Castro. All the while the vast majority of Madisonians genuinely consider him their inspired champion.


  3. madisonexpat says:

    Enough Pluribus. More Unum.


  4. Bob Allen says:

    David, it was nice to talk to you on Memorial Day at Confederate Rest. Thanks much for covering the event and highlighting the injustices hereabouts. We are only asking for the same respect that the brave Union soldiers would afford their Confederate counterparts if their responses were possible. Thanks again Bob Allen

    Liked by 1 person

  5. wadwizard says:

    On which side did Mayor Soglin’s ancestors fight during the Civil War?


  6. coolkevs says:

    I’m sorry I missed it – I walked to the cemetery with my daughters and probably heard the last shots. It would have been a good lesson for them. We laid flowers at their great-grandparents and great-aunt and uncle (who died in 1928) graves. 70 years after the last major war, I think that people are forgetting the lessons and the sacrifices made.


  7. Gary L. Kriewald says:

    Meanwhile, Madison’s liberal elites held a Memorial Day teach-in (and self-congratulatory love fest) at Gates of Heaven in James Madison Park, in which the predictable subject was how Amerika has been responsible for all the wars, suffering and assorted misery of the world, followed by a touching ceremony at the city’s monument to the Stalinists who fought on the wrong side in the Spanish Civil War. “Out of touch” doesn’t begin to describe these specimens.


    • AnonyBob says:

      So, you like Franco and his fascists?


      • wadwizard says:

        That’s an interesting question: Fascists vs Communists is the choice? I choose neither, and would be very happy to observe them watch them destroy one-another. But, that just silly old me.


      • madisonexpat says:

        You wouldn’t miss a meeting of the Blame America First Club, would you?


        • AnonyBob says:

          It’s really a binary choice. You either fought on the side of Franco and the fascists, supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, or you fought on the side of the democratic republicans, supported by the Soviet Union, many European countries and the international brigades. Why condemn the Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteers? They weren’t fighting FOR Stalin (the communists were a small part of the coalition), they were fighting AGAINST fascism. Where would you stand? (Hint: one side became our allies in WW2, the other our enemies.) Or does the rule of Franco not look so bad to the Trumpistas?


      • Gary L. Kriewald says:

        Guess which side burned churches, slaughtered priests and raped nuns. HInt: it wasn’t the fascists. Now before you blow a gasket, I freely acknowledge that the fascists were responsible for equally reprehensible behavior (e.g., Guernica). My question is why the liberal elites in Madison think it’s OK to erect monuments to an approved class of war criminals (the ones on the left). If it’s because somehow their ideals were noble–it’s only their means that were, well, questionable–then it’s time for some serious ethical self-examination.


  8. madisonexpat says:

    False dichotomy ABOB, I stand for personal liberty. The Left only loves totalitarians and their wannabes.


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