Where else has a gravestone been uprooted?
(outside Jewish cemeteries in Nazi Germany, of course)
Forget it, virtue signalers, it’s Madison — where an issue never dies, it only festers.
The fate of the grave stone listing the 140 dead Confederate prisoners of war buried in Madison’s Forest Hill cemetery will never be settled, we have come to believe.
The Madison Common Council for a third time, next week Tuesday, September 25, will consider what to do with the grave marker. But only to refer the matter to a public hearing a week later, on Tuesday, October 2. At THAT meeting the council very well could, by simple majority vote, yank the stone.
It will do so after a newbie alderoid, Allen Arntsen, appealed the decision of the city’s Landmarks Commission which, in August (that, here), over-ruled the Council’s two earlier attempts at whitewashing history (the last by a 14-4 vote). Keeping the grave stone “in its present location is contrary to the general welfare of the city of Madison,” Arntsen alleges.
So the public will have another crack at explaining to the supernaturally “woke” alderoids that the monument is no triumphant general aboard a rearing steed, sword menacing quaking former slaves. Located far from city center, on no prominent square but in a quiet corner of a peaceful cemetery.
It is only the very first permanent grave marker for the captured soldiers who died in captivity at Madison’s Camp Randall in 1862. The stone replaced the second generation of wooden boards that were deteriorating in Wisconsin’s harsh weather by the turn of the last century. The individual white markers one sees today were put up three years AFTER the marker in question.
Nor was the stone spirited into Madison in the middle of the night by Klan night riders. Just the opposite. Two Madison veterans, in particular, solicited their former enemies in the south to erect a suitable marker. One of them was Major Hugh Lewis, who lost an arm at Gettysburg. The other was Captain Frank Oakley, in whose Mansion Hill home the redoubtable Alice Whiting Waterman served as housekeeper until her death in 1897.
It was Mrs. Waterman who, at first alone, cared for the neglected graves. Along the way she attracted the support of Wisconsin governors, beginning with former general Lucius Fairchild, who lost his arm at Gettysburg. In the late 1880s, Fairchild was elected national commandant of the Grand Army of the Republic, the organization representing veterans of the Union cause in the late Civil War.
Well below the names of the dead, the organization collecting the money inscribed:
Erected in loving memory by United Daughters of Confederacy
to Alice Whiting Waterman and her boys.
That’s it. That’s what passes for Hate Speech in Madison WI these days. No justification for slavery or insurrection. No “fought with valor” or “unsung heroes” or “Lost Cause.” In point of fact, those words passed under the nose of Captain Oakley, who, at the time, was the U.S. marshall for the federal court in Madison. The Daughters sent the money and the inscription up to Oakley so that he could contract with a local stone mason. (Much smarter than shipping a stone from Alabama.)
It is reasonable to think that, when the Daughters of the Confederacy solicited funds to carve the stone, many of the contributors were daughters, sisters, and other family members of the dead soldiers.
So, the City of Madison is poised to create its own history. Madison would become the very first to remove a grave marker.
It is well possible that the organization as a whole is guilty of white washing the South’s guilt. But it did not do so on the stone at Confederate Rest.
Stu Levitan these days says the is too large. “It’s very mass is celebratory.” He should try carving 140 names on a smaller stone. In any event, it is smaller than that erected over the grave of Charles Van Hise, president of the University of Wisconsin, father of the progressive “Wisconsin Idea,” an enthusiastic eugenist. (More here.)
Blaska’s Bottom Line: If the city is going to dispatch a forklift to remove the stone at Confederates Rest, might as well put Charlie Van Hise on the flatbed truck while they’re at it. Call it a two-fer.