Forest Hill Cemetery was established in 1858 by the city of Madison, Wisconsin. Burials occurred at this location for more than a thousand years, as American Indians built effigy mounds on the site between 900-1200 A.D. It is an example of the rural cemetery movement, sparked in the United States with the creation of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The 140-acre cemetery contains the interments of many local notables, including administrators and faculty members at the University of Wisconsin.
Burials in the soldiers' lot began in 1862. The federal government did not own the soldiers' lot until 1886, when the city of Madison donated the 0.36-acre plot, located in Section 34 of the parent cemetery. Deceased Civil War Union veterans from the local general hospital constitute the majority of the interments. However, there are also Spanish-American War and World War I veterans buried at the site. The last burial was in 1931.
A Confederate plot known as “Confederate Rest” is located approximately 100 yards from this soldiers' lot, but it is not affiliated with the National Cemetery Administration.