Oak Woods Cemetery is located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. Established by the Oak Woods Cemetery Association in 1853, the cemetery is an early example of the Lawn-Park cemetery form. Reacting to criticism that rural cemeteries were "cluttered and crowded", cemetery designer Adolph Strauch introduced more formality to the layout of Oak Woods, while reducing the size of trees and shrubs, replacing the atmosphere of a natural garden with that of a park. In time Strauch became one of the most influential cemetery designers of his day, in part due to his work at Oak Woods. Many local politicians of note have been interred here, including two Governors of Illinois, two Mayors of Chicago, U.S. Congressman James Mann, and Walter Gresham, Secretary of State to President Grover Cleveland.
Confederate Mound is located in Section K, Divisions 1 and 2. The plot contains burials of Confederate dead originally interred in the city cemetery, and in grounds near the hospital at Camp Douglas, a prisoner-of-war camp located in Chicago.
The end of the Civil War led to the abandonment of Camp Douglas and the transfer of the Confederate dead to Oak Woods Cemetery in 1866. The following year, Oak Woods received the Confederate remains from the City Cemetery. According to contemporary military records, 3,384 bodies from City Cemetery were re-interred at Oak Woods. At the time, no individual headstones marked the location of the graves. As a result, in the late 19th century a number of Confederate associations began fundraising campaigns to erect a memorial to the dead in the cemetery. Their efforts were rewarded when President Grover Cleveland and his entire cabinet attended the dedication of the 40' tall bronze-and-granite monument on May 30, 1895.
An act of Congress in 1903 provided federal funds for the improvement of Confederate Mound, including the marking of Confederate graves and the raising of the monument and mound. These appropriations led to the placement of six bronze plaques on the monument, which list the names of 4,243 known Confederate soldiers interred here, along with an inscription regarding the funding of the monument.
Twelve unidentified Union guards who died at Camp Douglas are also interred in the plot. Their graves are marked by individual unknown headstones.
Monuments and Memorials
The memorial consists of a bronze figure of a Confederate infantry soldier, arms folded across his chest, hat in hand, and kit hanging at his side, standing atop a square granite column. The figure is adapted from a painting entitled "Appomattox" by John A. Elder. Three bas-relief panels at the base depict "The Call to Arms" on the east side, "A Veteran's Return Home" on the west side, and "A Soldier's Death Dream" on the south side. The monument marks the trench burials of the Confederate dead from Camp Douglas. The Confederate Veterans Association, along with other Confederate veterans' organizations, raised funds to erect the monument. General John C. Underwood, head of the United Confederate Veterans division west of the Alleghenies, designed and solicited contributions for the monument. The bronze plaques listing the names of buried Confederate veterans were added around 1910-1911, and may have been part of a new base design.
In addition to the monument, four artillery monuments and a cannonball pyramid were erected in Confederate Mound in the 1860's.