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Phil Drajeske '57

A Civil War training post named after Governor Alexander W. Randall, Camp Randall occupied 42 acres extending from University Avenue to Monroe Street, between Breese Terrace and Randall Avenue. In 1860, the land was located approximately 1.5 miles outside of Madison. The land was donated in 1861 by the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society to the state legislature as a drill ground for Union troops. Eventually, 70,000 of the state's 91,327 troops were equipped and trained here before being sent to battlefields in the South.

In 1862, 1400 confederate soldiers captured at Island 10 in the Mississippi and at Shiloh were held at Camp Randall. Many of these soldiers died of their wounds and are buried in a cemetery on Madison's west side in an area known as "soldiers rest," the northernmost confederate cemetery in the United States.

After the war, the land became the state fairgrounds, and the university acquired it as an athletic field in 1893. In 1911 a 6.5-acre parcel at the east entrance to the camp was set aside as Camp Randall Memorial Park, and a memorial arch to honor Wisconsin's soldiers was completed in 1912 at a cost of $25,000. Camp Randall was the training site for the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 11th, 12th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 23rd, 29th, 30th, 36th, 37th (Part), 38th, 40th, 42nd, 46th, and 49th WI VI, and saw the departure of Co. G. Berdan's Sharpshooters.
Camp Randall Memorial Park still exists, although its size has been reduced due to the addition of the McClain athletic facility and the expansion of Camp Randall Stadium. The memorial arch, located at the intersection of Dayton Street and Randall Avenue, serves as the main entrance to the park. The park features Civil War-era canons and a plaque with information about the camp during the Civil War.

There are few pictures of Camp Randall during the Civil War era, although some sketches, woodcarvings and paintings captured its appearance as a training camp. An excellent online gallery of pictures can be found here.

The book "Soldiers When They Go: The Story of Camp Randall," published in 1981 by the Wisconsin Historical Society, is an excellent account of the camp based on soldiers' diaries, letters and military records.

A pamphlet written by S.D. Forbes in the late 1890s called "Camp Randall and Environs" also provides a detailed account of the camp.

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