Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Confederate Mound at Oak Woods Cemetery Chicago, Illinois

Southsiders of a certain age know about Chicago's Camp Douglas. My Dad would point it out every trip south on Lakeshore Drive. 1965 was the centenary of the Civil War so there was much more talk of the war in the 60s than today perhaps. 4,200 graves of Confederate Soldiers who died at the camp were interned at Oak Woods Cemetery and memorialized with a statue dedicated by President Cleveland (a Democrat btw) in 1895.
Confederate Mound is an elliptical plot, approximately 475 feet by 275 feet, located between Divisions 1 and 2 of Section K. The most prominent feature of the plot is the Confederate Monument, a 30-foot granite column topped with a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier, a figure based on the painting “Appomattox” by John A. Elder. At the base of the tapered square shaft are three bas-relief images: “The Call to Arms” showing a group rallying for the cause, “A Soldier’s Death Dream” depicting a fallen soldier and his horse on the battlefield, and “A Veteran’s Return Home” showing a soldier arriving at a ruined cabin. General John C. Underwood, a regional head of the United Confederate Veterans, designed the monument and was at its dedication on May 30, 1895, along with President Grover Cleveland and an estimated 100,000 on-lookers. In 1911, the Commission for Marking the Graves of Confederate Dead paid to have the monument lifted up and set upon a base of red granite; affixed to the four sides of the base were bronze plaques inscribed with the names of Confederate soldiers known to be buried in the mass grave.
Update: Lee Bey writing in 2010,
The fix-up would rejuvenate one of the most spectacular, if little-known, monuments in Chicago. The two-acre mound at Oak Woods features a 46-foot Georgia granite monument topped by a bronze statue of a Confederate soldier with this arms folded and looking downward.‚ The names of the dead are written on bronze plaques near the base.‚ Cannons and stacked cannonballs mark the perimeters of the mound. Here's what the monument looked like before the scaffolding went up:

The dead were prisoners at the notorious Camp Douglas, a Union training base turned prisoner-of-war camp near 35th and the Lake. As a prison camp, Douglas was called "eighty acres of hell" because of the disease and cruelty manifest there. After the war, the federal government bought land within Oak Woods and buried the dead prisoners there without much fanfare.‚ But by the 1890s, ex-Confederates within Chicago and in Georgia raised the funds to design and build the monument, which was dedicated in 1895.

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