Next week, I will have lived in Columbus for 21 years. There’s a large Victorian cemetery on the west side of town called Greenlawn Cemetery, which describes itself as “a very special park.” Until today, I had never been to Greenlawn. Since it was Memorial Day today, Susan and I decided to pay it a visit in an effort to pay tribute to some of the many military veterans who rest there. It will remind visitors of Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, or Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati–as much Victorian destination as cemetery.
We didn’t get a formal tour, although there were formal tours being offered. That means we missed a lot. Among the interesting graves we missed were Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker’s, a Buffalo Soldier who was awarded the Medal of Honor during the Indian wars, and a soldier who was awarded the Medal of Honor for carrying water to the Reno/Benteen battalion at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Samuel P. Bush, the grandfather of Pres. George H. W. Bush and the great-grandfather of Pres. George W. Bush, is buried there, as are the grandparents of Pres. Woodrow Wilson. I’m going to have to go back, probably sooner than later, to see the rest of these interesting grave sites.
This is the grave of Gov. William N. Dennison, Ohio’s first Civil War-era governor. His son, Lt. William N. Dennison, a talented horse artillerist who served with the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps, is buried a few feet away.
This is the grave of Lt. Oscar Kelton of the 95th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The Kelton family was prominent in Nineteenth Century Columbus; the family home, which was a stop on the Underground Railroad, is a museum today. Lt. Kelton was KIA during Sherman’s Meridian Campaign in 1864. He was only 21 years old.
This is the grave of Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell’s father, who was a War of 1812 veteran.
This is the grave of Jacob Haering, a Civil War veteran. I thought it was an extremely interesting monument, which is why I shot it. Note the GAR medal portrayed on the monument.
There are two sections of Civil War veterans. One of them includes a number of unknowns, as well as a number of United States Colored Troops, whose graves are interspersed among the the graves of the white soldiers who served alongside them. This is the grave of Pvt. Andy Grey, who served in the 15th U. S. Colored Infantry.
One of a number of unknown Union soldiers buried in the larger section.
Brothers in arms, if not in service. Private Compton probably died at the Confederate prisoner of war prison site at Camp Chase.
This is the grave of Ovid Wellford Smith, one of the Andrews Raiders, of Great Locomotive Chase fame. Like most of the raiders, Smith was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor. His grave is the only one in the entire cemetery to have its own state historical marker.
This is the grave of another Medal of Honor winner, Bvt. Maj. Gen. Frederick Phisterer. He was awarded the MOH as a First Lieutenant in the 18th U.S. Infantry for action on December 31, 1862 at Stone River, Tennessee. His citation reads “Voluntarily conveyed, under a heavy fire, information to the comander of a battalion of regular troops by which the battalion was saved from capture or annihilation.”
This is the grave marker of a young Union soldier who died of disease at Fortress Monroe in early 1864. The marker depicts a saber, the U.S. flag, an eagle on top, and a detail at the bottom showing a cannon tube, several rifles with bayonets, and several cavalry sabers. It’s without doubt one of the most interesting Civil War grave markers I’ve ever seen. And it belongs to a common soldier, which makes it even more interesting.
Thanks to Susan Forsyth for passing this one along. This is the grave of Brig. Gen. James William “Tony” Forsyth, Philip H. Sheridan’s chief of staff, who commanded the U. S. troops at the Wounded Knee episode in 1890. Forsyth was married to one of Governor Dennison’s daughters.
To all of our veterans, past, present, and future, thank you for your sacrifices in giving us the country that we enjoy today, and a special thank you to SSgt. Morton L. Wittenberg, 14th Air Force, who served in North Africa and Italy during World War II, and who shuffled off this mortal coil much too soon in December 1980.Scridb filter