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Joshua Spiegelhoff ’98 and Joan Bahr ’83

Your calendar’s publisher appears to be geographically challenged. Union troops burned down the University of Alabama campus in April 1865, during the American Civil War. Only seven buildings survived the burning, including the president’s mansion. Frances Louisa Garland, wife of President Landon C. Garland, saved the home from destruction when she demanded the soldiers put out the flames in its path. Ironically, it was her husband’s involvement in the war that might well have put the campus in danger. After years of lobbying the Legislature to transform the university into a military school, Garland was authorized to start training troops for the Confederacy in 1860. After the fire and a year of trying to rebuild the campus, Garland accepted a position at the University of Mississippi in 1867. The University of Alabama reopened in 1871.

Your alma mater had its official beginnings when Wisconsin was incorporated as a state in 1848. North Hall was the first building constructed on campus in 1851, followed by South Hall in 1855 and Bascom Hall in 1859, along with a few private residences. Bascom’s dome was later destroyed by a fire, but not at the hands of Union troops. In fact, a number of Badgers served in the Union Army while just a few joined the Southern cause. One report found that of 50 graduates up to 1864, 28 had joined the Union and several hundred with some connection to the university had entered the army.

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