Even as the crow flies, the Civil War’s battles missed Chicago by more than 250 miles. So the towering war monument inside Rosehill Cemetery’s grand entrance might seem a bit misplaced.
Keep walking, though, and you’ll see that the standard-bearing Union soldier topping Our Heroes overlooks hundreds of government-issued headstones for Chicagoans who lost their lives in America’s bloodiest war.
A 350-acre oasis on the city’s North Side, Rosehill holds 14 Civil War generals, plus Cook County politicians who argued the war’s decisions and news editors who challenged them.
You can hear their stories on a monthly summer walking tour ($15) offered by the Chicago Architecture Center. Guides discuss monuments and history of the 8th Illinois Cavalry, which fired the first shots at Gettysburg; opposition newspaper editor Wilbur F. Storey, whose freedom of speech is said to have been defended by President Lincoln himself; abolitionist editor Zebina Eastman; and field surgeon Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, whose Medal of Honor was rescinded for her defense of women’s rights.
If a DIY tour is more your style, pick up a map and check out the Civil War museum in the administration building.
Rosehill Cemetery. Photo: Mary Ellen Bleeden