Confederate Soldiers Buried in Confederate Rest Lists

From “The Boys At Forest Hill” by James R. Heberling

When I started to research the names of the soldiers buried in Confederate Rest  I discovered that from 1862 to 1893 many lists have been made of the men that are buried there. The interesting thing about these lists is that they are not all the same. Some of the names that appear on these lists are spelled differently some with a letter added or missed others having been misspelled completely. There some names that shows up on some lists that do not show up on the others. 

     In my quest to find out who is really buried in Confederate Rest I started with the list of names that appear on the grave markers today. As I searched regimental rosters and the records of the National Archives I discovered that some of the names may be misspelled and a few of the names were not found in any of the documents.

     During my search I came upon other lists. The first list done by Dr. Joseph Hobbins, a doctor from Madison brought to Camp Randall to help treat the sick prisoners. The second was a list made by T.F. Stair who came to Madison in 1866 to record the names of those buried in Confederate Rest. His list was published in the Mobile Register and Advertiser, Thursday, 13 September 1866. The third list was by Mr. James R. Stuart who presented his list to the Wisconsin State Historical Society October of 1893, found in the Frank Oakley Papers. The fourth which I included was from the Office of the Secretary of State, Civil War Records, found in the Wisconsin Historical Archives but no date attached. And still one more list found in the Frank Oakley Papers by an unknown source.

     Some of the names on many of the list do not match the names on the other lists. Here are a few examples: Dr. Joseph Hobbins, T. F. Stair and James Stuart do not record the name of Sgt. T. Damson of the 1st Ala.,TN., & MS. Regiment on their list, but the records of the Office of the Secretary of State does list Sgt. Damson. A head stone in Confederate Rest in inscribed with the name J. W. Andrews. Dr. Hobbins and the Office of the Secretary of State records a name J. W. Anderson, T. F. Stair does not although this could have been one of the names he could not read on many of the worn and damaged head boards. At marker# 21 you will find the name William Settery, 40th Tennessee. No one else records his name but Mr. James R. Stuart. Pvt. Settery does not show up on regimental rosters or in the National Archives. The name Tellery (Tillery on some lists) shows up on the other list. The National Archives record that William Tillery, 40th Tennessee enlisted at Memphis, TN. at the age of 48. He was captured at Island Number 10 on April 7, 1862. Received at Camp Randall April 24, 1862 and died April 30, 1862.

     A name with no marker is George Carr. His name appears on the list of Dr. Hobbins, T. F. Stair and the Office of the Secretary of State. Private George Carr 1st Alabama Infantry does show up on the regimental roster of the 1st Alabama and in the National Archives who states that George Carr was captured at Island Number 10 on April 7, 1862. Was received at Camp Randall April 20, 1862 and died April 22, 1862. So why no marker for Pvt. Carr? There is a possibility that Pvt. Carr is buried in Confederate Rest. At marker# 19 George Larron is said to be buried there. The problem is George Larron does not show up on the 1st Alabama’s Regimental Roster or in the National Archives. The date of death for both of these men was the same and the name George Larron does not show up on any lists. I believe the evidence shows that George Larron is really George Carr.

     One has to wonder how some of the names on these lists can be so different. When Mrs. Waterman replaced the damaged head boards she could have and probably did obtain the names form the original sources being either Dr. Hobbins records or the records from Camp Randall. It was noted that she had the help of many prominent figures of Madison including her friend Major Frank Oakley who would have supplied her with this information.    

     Confused yet? There is more. Besides the different spelling of the some names and different names altogether most of the authors of these lists could not agree on the number of soldiers buried there. Today there are 140 names on the list of soldiers buried at Confederate Rest. The lists I have mentioned before contain 132 – 136 names and some mention un-marked graves; some record un-known graves and some show both.

     Dr. Joseph Hobbins recorded 132 deaths in his journal. He correctly recorded the first and the last soldier to die at Camp Randall, so who were the other eight? T. F. Stair in 1866 recorded only 135 names, but he did report that a few of the head boards were so badly damaged he could not identify the names written on them. How many is” a few” we will never know. Mr. James R. Stuart identified 136 graves but out of those he could only read 128 names, the head boards again being in poor shape. Mr. Stuart made his list in 1893, 4 years before Alice Waterman passed away. Mrs. Waterman took excellent care of the graves. She replaced the head boards 3 times in her life, so there would have been no reason Mr. Stuart could not properly record the names unless some of these names he left blank on his list were at the time unknown. The list marked, Office of the Secretary of State has 136 names. Again it is incomplete. This list does not record any unknown or unmarked graves. Another list found in the Frank Oakley papers record 3 graves marked with no names only with Company, Regiment and date of death. Co. C 55th Tenn. April 30, 1862, Co. D 1st Ala. April 30, 1862,  Co. B  1st Ala, April 2, 1862.   This source also recorded 5 unmarked graves.

            The Wisconsin State Journal on May 29, 1885 in an article written about the work of Alice waterman mentioned the number of graves in Confederate Rest, “Out of 139 graves only five sleep in unmarked graves”.

     In a letter form Evon M. Barber, brother to J. H. Barber who is buried at marker# 4 to Major Frank Oakley dated 12/18/1897, Mr. Barber talks about the unmarked graves, “I noticed in a telegram from Washington D. C. this morning Mrs. Alice Waterman cared for the number of Confederate soldiers who were captured at Island #10 and imprisoned in your city during the late Rebellion: and she had the names of all save five cut into a slab and placed at their graves”.

     Major Frank Oakley in a letter dated January 18, 1898, responding to Mr. P. E. Ward of Gaston, Alabama inquiring about the burial place of his comrades Mr. Oakley writes, “No such name of Abney appears among the dead. If he died here and was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery, he is probably one of the unknown, as there are several graves marked in that way”.

     As you stand at the front of the Confederate Rest you will notice that in the front row on the left, the row is five graves short of being filled. Is this what is to be believed as the unknown or unmarked graves? At one time as Mr. Oakley and others have recorded, there were graves marked unknown and some unmarked graves which during their lifetime the outline of these graves could have most likely been seen.

     Years ago when I started to research  the Confederate prisoners at Camp Randall and those buried in Confederate Rest, information was brought to my attention about a test that the University of Wisconsin, Madison Geology Department had done years back. The person who gave me this information knew no more about the test so I contacted the Geology Department to ask if any one there knew the specifics of this test or even knew what I was talking about. The person I talked to said that the people who were involved on the experiment where no longer there but she remembered some of the findings. She remembered the Geology Department was working on a ground penetrating device that could distinguish where ground had been disturbed. The device she recalled looked like a lawn mower without wheels. They needed a place to test out their device and what better place than a cemetery. They tested this device for the first time in Confederate Rest. She said that the results were interesting. The device showed a center trench area but some of the earlier graves toward the back of the Rest were not seen. Since it was the first test of this device they did not know if it was working properly or not.

     So the questions remain of how many soldiers are buried in Confederate Rest 132 – 140 or possibly more in unmarked graves and who is buried in Confederate Rest? Whose list is correct or is it a combination of all the lists?

     Through the clues given by all these lists and with the help of regimental rosters and the National Archives I have come up with my own list containing some information on these soldiers buried in Confederate Rest. My goal was not to confuse the reader of these lists more but to give another source that may help a family member find their ancestor who may be buried in the Rest.

     If it were not for the records kept by Dr. Joseph Hobbins, T. F. Stair, James R. Stuarts and the care and devotion of Alice Whiting Waterman, I believe that the names and the graves of these young men and boys buried in Confederate Rest would have been lost forever.  With the attention given by William Austin Huggins and the continuous care given by the wonderful staff at Forest Hill Cemetery and by other groups and individuals we can preserve the names and history of the soldiers and of Alice Waterman.

    In 1866 T. F. Stair wrote on the preservation of the names on these graves, “Believing it to be a duty incumbent upon every man to endeavor to ameliorate the sufferings of humanity, and to “mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep,” I have taken the pleasurable yet sad duty of procuring a record of the names of Confederate soldiers whose mortal remains rest in Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, Wis. These were soldiers taken prisoners at Island No. 10, by the United State forces in the spring of 1862. Trusting this may be of some benefit to bereaved families of your and surrounding states from which they came, never to return”.    





Confederate Rest, Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, Wisconsin

Memorial Day 2013