The War Memorial and Veterans of Greenwood Cemetery

by Ryan Junge


War of 1812

Civil War

Special Ceremony




The War Memorial at Greenwood Cemetery was erected to not only salute the veterans of the Civil War, but also those of all of the wars that the United States has fought, including the War of 1812, Spanish-American, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. This memorial commemorates the over 300 veterans buried in Greenwood Cemetery from these various American Wars.[1]

Over 2000 people attended a special ceremony on June 14, 1914 to unveil this memorial. The reporter described the dedication of the memorial as "the most notable patriotic display ever witnessed in Cedar Falls' history."[2] The Ladies of Greenwood Cemetery were responsible for this grand tribute. The cost was about $2000 and the Ladies raised most of this money through fund raising attempts.[3]

Professor Chauncey P. Colegrove, Vice-President of State Teacher's College (now UNI), gave the dedication address. Colegrove argued that:

The Civil War was not fought to free the slave, it was to determine whether or not the union should be perpetuated... It is appropriate that here in Cedar Falls, where in 1861 the first company in Black Hawk County was organized to go to the front, that we should dedicate this beautiful memorial.[4]

 The memorial itself is rather tall in stature. It is located just to the east of the Greenwood Cemetery Mausoleum. The inscription on the memorial reads "In Memory of Our Soldiers Dead". A pedestal of about five feet supports the soldier's statue. The soldier stands ten feet tall on top of the five foot pedestal. The great height of the soldier seems to depict him looking out over a great distance. The statue depicts the figure of a volunteer soldier, holding by his side a standard issue sword, around which floats an American flag. On his head is a small brimmed hat with the bill pushed upwards. The soldier holds an American flag in his left hand and reaches across his body for his sword with his right. The man has his chin up and his chest out, showing a strong sense of pride. By reaching for his sword, it suggests that the man would fight for this flag and what it stands for. The soldier's eyes suggest he is scanning the countryside to protect his country.[5] This memorial does an excellent job of showing respect to the fallen soldiers of so many wars. These men date back as far as A.D. Wychoff, who died on November 17, 1877 at the age of 88. There is an inscription on his tombstone that reads "A Soldier of 1812".(Original, Block F)

An extremely interesting tombstone is the family stone of David and Edwin Lewis.(Original section, Block F) David, a member of 152nd Regiment was killed at the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia on June 3, 1864 at the age of twenty. Many soldiers at Cold Harbor feared Grant's battle plan: "Many of the infantrymen were not confident of the battle to come and wrote letters home, others pinned their names and their addresses to their coats so that their bodies could be identified afterward. Eight thousand Union soldiers were killed in just eight minutes, which turned out to be the bloodiest battle of the entire Civil War."[6]

His brother Edwin Lewis, a member of the 121 Regiment, was killed at the Battle of Saylor's Creek, Virginia on April 6, 1865 at the age of twenty three. The battle and surrender of the Confederate troops at Saylor's Creek occurred just three days before General Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox on April 9. Saylor's Creek was the last battle in Virginia and was instrumental in causing Lee to surrender.[7]

Others, like A.W. Chapman, served in the Spanish American War(Original section, Block J). Fred W. Stevens was a corporal in the 14th U.S. Cavalry and died in 1907. He is buried at the Presidio Veterans Cemetery in California, but commemorated in Greenwood(Original section, Block E).[8]

James Messier served in the 212th Engineers in World War I. Messier returned from serving his country and was a farmer and proud citizen of Cedar Falls(First Addition). Wilbur Sorensen was a Corporal and telegraph operator in World War 1(Original section, Block F). Paul Rasmussen, promoted all the way to Captain, was a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War(First Addition). Thorwald Jacobsen was a veteran of both Korea and Vietnam(Oaklawn Addition, Block A). The proud demeanor of the statue also depicts the pride of the veterans that are buried there.[9]

Veterans buried in Greenwood Cemetery have fought in every war since the War of 1812, including the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The memorial may depict a Civil War soldier, but it commemorates every veteran buried in Greenwood. The last sentence of the article in the Cedar Falls Record reads, "This monument will stand as a memorial until time shall be no more."[10] There could not be a better tribute to the brave veterans who are buried there.




1. Cedar Falls Historical Society Archives, Box 2, Folder 1, Cemeteries; Veterans in Greenwood Cemetery.

2. "Monument is Dedicated in Greenwood Cemetery", Cedar Falls Record, June 15, 1914, 1.

3. "Monument is Dedicated", Cedar Falls Record, June 15, 1914, 1.

4. "Monument is Dedicated", Cedar Falls Record, June 15, 1914, 1.

5. War Memorial, Greenwood Cemetery.

6. Craig L. Symonds, A Battlefield Atlas of the Civil War, Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America, New York, 1983, 85)

7. John McDonald, Great Battles of the Civil War, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1988, 184.

8. CFHSA, Box 2, Folder 1, Cemeteries, Veterans in Greenwood Cemetery.

9. James Messier Obituary, Waterloo Courier, Feb. 3, 1973, 6.

10. Monument is Dedicated, Cedar Falls Record. June 15, 1914, 1.




Cedar Falls Historical Society Archives. Box 2, Folder 1, Cemeteries, Veterans in Greenwood Cemetery.

 James Messier's Obituary. Waterloo Courier, Feb. 3, 1973, A3.

Lyftogt, Kenneth. From Blue Mills to Columbia. Iowa State University Press, Ames, 1993.

 McDonald, John. Great Battles of the Civil War. New York, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988.

"Monument is Dedicated in Greenwood Cemetery", Cedar Falls Record, June 15, 1914, 1.

 Symonds, Craig L. A Battlefield Atlas of the Civil War, Dallas, Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1983.

Veterans Memorial, Greenwood Cemetery, Cedar Falls, Iowa.


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