The prominent Civil War monument that rises above the cemetery promontory is a memorial to Putnam County soldiers who fought in the epic War Between the States.
A crowd of 8,000 reportedly gathered for the dedication on July 2, 1870. At that time Greencastle was home to fewer than 3,300 residents. Many dignitaries helped to dedicate the monument, including Lew Wallace, Indiana's own Civil War general from Crawfordsville, and Indiana Gov. Conrad Baker.
The monument was designed to be on a "crowning eminence" in the cemetery, which had opened just five years earlier, south of Greencastle's city limits at the time.
The 141-year-old monument includes the names of 321 Putnam County soldiers who died in the Civil War. The limestone monument stands 29 feet, four inches high.
The statue of the soldier atop the monument is considered of "heroic size" and is believed to be a "faithful portrayal of a Civil War volunteer," documents from the dedication note.
Beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday at the monument, Wallace impersonator Bernie O'Bryan will give expression to the noted general's thoughts as he returns to the structure that he once helped dedicate.
A professional speaker/exhibitor, O'Bryan has appeared at the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum, the Fort Thomas Museum, Conner Prairie Historical Village, Lew Wallace Museum, the Indiana History Museum, the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Historical Society, Civil War Roundtables, libraries and schools.
O'Bryan has been professionally published in the U.S. and Europe, including pieces on Wallace, Confederate Gen. Henry Heth, the Sixth Regiment and others. He is a founder and officer in the Mid States Living History Association.
He currently serves as national president of the Sons of Spanish American War Veterans and senior vice commander of the Department of Kentucky, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. O'Bryan had ancestors on both sides during the Civil War.
Meanwhile, Ken Anderson of the Civil War Roundtable will present the history of the monument and detail the lives of three Putnam County soldiers, Pvt. James H. McGill, Sgt. Lycurgus Stoner and Lt. Lloyd T. Duncan.
Anderson will briefly review their service records and their gravesites, though none is buried at Forest Hill. McGill is buried in the old Hanna Street Cemetery near Blackstock Stadium, Stoner is interred at Boone-Hutcheson, while Duncan is buried at Gosport.
Information about Forest Hill Cemetery and special assets and burials behind its gates will be available for a self-guided tour the of the cemetery grounds. The Abbey Building will be open Sunday for people to go inside.
Cost of the Forest Hill event is $10. Proceeds from ticket sales support the ongoing efforts of the Heritage Preservation Society of Putnam County.