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Madison's Every Place Has a Story Walking Tour
Item 14 of 19
This is a contributing entry for Madison's Every Place Has a Story Walking Tour and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
Forest Hill Cemetery is one of the oldest and most historic cemeteries in Madison Walk through the grounds and not only will you see prominent names of founding and influential Madison leaders, but also names of Union and Confederate soldiers, representing both sides of the Civil War. In addition, an obelisk at the center of Union rest memorializes eight orphan children.

  • Forest Hill Soldiers Lot  Historic Sign
  • Forest Hill Soldiers Lot Plaque
  • Forest Hill Soldiers Monument
  • Graves at Union Rest, Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Grave of an unknown United States soldier buried at Union Rest, Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, Wisconsin.
  •  Forest Hill Confederate Rest Plaque.
  • Graves of an unknown United States solider and J.D. Hager, buried at Union Rest. Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Confederate Rest Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison. Where Confederate prisoners who died here were buried in the spring of 1862. Two views, near by is Soldiers’ Rest where Union Soldiers were buried during the War. There are 136 Confederate dead, 184 Union. All are strewn with flowers on Memorial Day.
  • Photograph of Confederate Rest, Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, Wisconsin. Featured is the stone fence around the graves, the grave markers and a memorial stone with the names of all of those buried there, including Alice Whiting Waterman.
  • Cabinet card photograph, taken 1896, of the Confederate Rest in Madison, Wisconsin. The photograph features the section of graves at Forest Hill Cemetery in Madison, Wisconsin, reserved for the 136 Confederate soldiers who are buried there, and Alice Whiting Waterman.

Forest Hill Cemetery, established in 1858, is located on a 140-acre hillside overlooking the beautiful city of Madison and the surrounding lakes. When the cemetery was being developed, Native American effigy mounds were soon discovered on the land, which reminds us that this was a sacred place well before Madison was established. In section 34, called the Soldiers’ Lot, lies two military burial grounds; Union Rest and Confederate Rest. 

Union Rest encompasses 240 graves of Union soldiers who died at Camp Randall’s military hospital or Harvey U.S. General Hospital in Madison. In addition, eight orphaned children who lived at the Soldiers’ Orphan Home are also buried at Union Rest. In 1873, a marble obelisk was erected with the children’s names on it. Soldiers from the Spanish American-War and World War I are also buried at Union Rest. In 1886, Union Rest became federal government property. 

The Confederate Rest is the northernmost Confederate cemetery in the U.S. These men who made up the 1st Alabama Infantry surrendered at the Battle of Island No. 10 near Cairo, Illinois in 1862. A majority of the 140 buried in the section died as prisoners of war at Camp Randall or died on their way to Camp Randall. Around 1868, the Confederate Rest was neglected, until a woman named Alice Waterman became its caretaker.   

Alice Waterman was born in Louisiana and later relocated to Madison. She saw the neglect taking place at Confederate Rest and decided to oversee the reconstruction of this section. She planted trees, cut the grass, pulled weeds, put up a fence, and added headboards. She called them “her boys” and arranged flowers at each of their graves every year on Memorial Day. When she passed away in 1897, she was buried at Confederate Rest, making her the only civilian in that section.  

“City of Madison.” City of Madison, Wisconsin, www.cityofmadison.com/parks/find-a-park/cemetery/. 

“Collective.” Forest Hill Cemetery: A Guide, 10 May 2015, foresthill.williamcronon.net/symbols/collective/. 

“Confederate Rest Journal I.” PDF file. https://historicmadison.org/ConfederateRest.pdf 

“Forest Hill Cemetery Soldiers' Lot--Civil War Era National Cemeteries: A Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/nr/travel/national_cemeteries/Wisconsin/Forest_Hill_Cemetery_Soldiers_Lot.html 

“Forest Hill Soldiers’ Lot.” PDF file. https://www.cem.va.gov/cem/pdf/InterpretiveSigns/ForestHillSoldiersLot.pdf 

“Forest Hill Walking Tour.” 1993. PDF file 

https://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/documents/ForestHillWalkingTour.pdf 

 

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Olson, Michael G. Forest Hill Soldiers Lot Sign. May 26, 2020, Madison.

Olson, Michael G. Forest Hill Soldiers Lot Plaque. May 26, 2020, Madison.

Olson, Michael G. Forest Hill Soldiers Monument. May 26, 2020, Madison.

Union Rest, photograph taken by Wisconsin Veterans Museum Staff, Talking Spirits Cemetery Tours 2018.

Union Rest, photograph taken by Wisconsin Veterans Museum Staff, Talking Spirits Cemetery Tours 2018.

Olson, Michael G. Forest Hill Confederate Rest Plaque. May 26, 2020, Madison.

Union Rest, photograph taken by Wisconsin Veterans Museum Staff, Talking Spirits Cemetery Tours 2018.

Forest Hill Cemetery (Madison, Wis.), Mss2007.167. Wisconsin Veterans Museum (Madison, Wis).

Forest Hill Cemetery (Madison, Wis.), Mss2007.167. Wisconsin Veterans Museum (Madison, Wis).

Confederate Rest, WVM Mss 1967. Wisconsin Veterans Museum (Madison, Wis).