Two Sides of Memories

Union Rest
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Madison's west-side is home to one of its largest and oldest cemeteries, Forest Hills.

Just nine years after receiving statehood and four years before the country's deadliest war, it's 140 acres were claimed.  Only one year into the War Between the States, in 1862, a section of it was set aside for soldiers fighting it.

Some died while training at Camp Randall, others in the U.S. General Hospital.

155 years later, those soldiers receive appropriate honor and recognition for their service.

Civil War Union Honor Guard pays respect
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Sons of Union Veterans conducts the ceremony, those sons now the third or fourth generation of men who served the North.

Rows of markers for those men stand at attention under two majestic Oak trees along Forest Hill's eastern boundary.

A fourth-grader from Brodhead, Wisconsin, sang the National Anthem and God Bless America.

The story of Henry Harnden, new to Wisconsin who enlisted as a private and left as a Brevet Brigadier General after his troops helped capture Jefferson Davis (C.S.A. President) was shared.

Harnden became the leader of the state's Grand Army of the Republic then, leading the fraternal organization which united veterans of the Civil War.

Muskets were loaded, aimed, and fired.

Ashes from retired United States flags burned after years of service were strewn quietly over the white tombstones.

Recognizing those who gave all.
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Union soldiers aren't the only Civil War dead in Madison.

Soldiers captured while fighting for the south were taken back to Madison as prisoners of war.  Some didn't survive and were buried in what became known as Confederate Rest, the northernmost burial ground of men in gray.

After the war was over, the small section of Forest Hills wasn't maintained until a southern woman moved to Madison in 1868.

She removed the weeds, replaced deteriorating wooden markers at her own expense and sought help in creating a dignified resting space.

The next part of the story grabbed my attention.  She got the attention of two men who served as Civil Generals on the Union side and C.C. Washburn personally lead a group of veterans to help the effort.

These men and Alice Waterman, their Madison champion, are buried together in formation. Members related to the 61st Georgia Infantry lead a service in honor of the enlisted men.  The program doesn't examine the merits of the war, but acknowledges the terrible losses.

It reflects well on comments attributed to the man who lead and lost the war, General Robert E. Lee, "I think it is the duty of every citizen, in the present condition of the Country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony. It is particularly incumbent upon those charged with the instruction of the young to set them an example."