A Civil War training post
located on the grounds of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Camp
Randall was named in honor of Governor Alexander W. Randall. Occupying
42 acres extending from University Avenue to Monroe Street, between Breeze
Terrace and Randall Avenue, the acreage was donated in 1861 by the Wisconsin
State Agricultural Society to the state legislature as a drill ground for
Union troops. The camp became the center of Wisconsin military activities,
and more than 70,000 men were quartered and trained here. After the War,
the property became the state fairgrounds, but in 1893 the university acquired
it as an athletic field. In 1911 a section of the property was set aside
as the Camp Randall Memorial Park, with a memorial arch completed in 1912
to honor Wisconsin's Civil War soldiers. During World War 1, the camp was
temporarily reactivated as a drill ground for troops destined for overseas,
many of them university students.
This 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, 49th WI VI., and saw the departure of Co. G, Berdan's Sharpshooters.
Arrival of the First Companies of the Second Regiment - 1861
The work of adapting the State Fair Grounds for the purposes of a
Camp, has progressed most rapidly and to a good degree of completeness
already. The fences about the trotting course and horse and cattle rings,
have been removed. The large shed for "operative machinery" has been enlarged
by running a shed all around it and furnished with tables and benches.
A kitchen has been erected adjoining it. The sheds on the east side and
south are converted into barracks by boarding them up and furnishing them
with a door, flooring and with two tiers of double berths, leaving a wide
alley at the side. The berths are filled with hay, covered with coarse
sheets, and supplied, through the kindness of the ladies, with blankets
and comfortables. The have a wholesome, and for a camp, a comfortable look.
The first two companies of the Second Regiment arrived last evening a little after six o'clock, viz.: The LaCrosse Light Guard, Captain Colwell, and from Portage, The Light Guard, Captain Mansfield. There was so much uncertainty about the time of their arrival that no crowd at the depot welcomed them. It was intended to land them at the camp, but the three cars which they filled were at the end of a long freight train and by that time it was fairly stopped at the call of the drum the soldiers were hurrying out of the cars and forming on the platform. Though a return for a ride was proposed, the offer was declined and a march preferred .....
Both Companies seemed to be made of good material, comprising some very strong and hardy looking fellows. Only about half were uniformed or armed. They drilled and marched well .... However, after they were dismissed to their quarters, several of them found their quarters; several of them found their way up town, and we noticed them fraternizing with the people and getting various knickknacks.
Camp Randall and Environs - 1864 - By S. D. Forbes.
At the present day, one
of the chief objects, that attract the attention of a visitor to the capitol
of the badger state, Is Camp Randall, located about one mile and a half
westward of the capitol square. It comprises an area of perhaps thirty
acres, of an irregular outline, and is entered by a gateway near the north-east
angle, where you will be by sentinels that guard the only ingress to the
limbo of Camp Randall. If you are unacquainted with the regulations of
camp life, let me inform you that the place you are about to enter is a
little world of itsey' with laws and ceremonies unlike those outside its
limits, and is in one respect like a bad scrape and is much easier to get
into then out of You pass the guards with a deferential air and find yours
eon a place where everything assumes a military aspect, and the federal
blue demolishes all outside distinctions of rank that prevail in civilian
life. Direct your steps to yonder eminence then we're on the center of
the grounds, surmounted by a terraced building, over which floats the American
flag, designating it as the headquarters, sanctum sanctorum of Camp Randall.
It is a lovely afternoon in October. In the distance the, waters of the
beautiful lake Monona are sparkling in the golden sunlight, and its well
defined and gracefully curveing shore, sweeping Jar away to the southeast
with many a cove and headland.
To the left, the capitol house with other public buildings arise to view, with a foreground sloping down to the borders of the camp, set with neat residences, looking out from groves of shade, now with the rich hues of autumn. To the left of this view, and nearer, arise the lofty walls of the State University--the crowning glory of Wisconsin's free school system. Thus side by side, are the school of the civilian and the "school of the soldier " Facing to the right, the landscape assumes a rural aspect, in which farm, colleges, grassy meadows, rolling fields and shady groves present a pleasing contrast to the view of the city in the opposite direction facing again to the front, we will contract the boundaries of our vision, to the objects and moving things within the paling that surrounds the encampment, and around which guards stalk lazily up and down their beats, and beyond which it is a soldierly sin to go without permission. Yonder to the right of the entrance, is a range often long, low buildings, neatly whitewashed, and separated by alleys a few paces in width. In front of the center of the line stands a large and more imposing structure for the accommodation of officers. Moving to the west, you pass and ascending a slight elevation the Hospital Buildings are before you - a long building with wings extending at right angles to the east of the main structure. These with the fixtures and yards adjacent, occupy about an acre of ground in the northwest angle of the enclosure, and is flanked on the south by Surgeon's Quarters, over which waves the Hospital flag, a signal of relief to the suffering tenants of Camp Randall. Southward and to the foot of the hill on which we have taken our standpoint of observations, extends a double room of barracks like those before described with all the streets and valleys of a miniature city, fronted also by a two storied structure for the gentry of rank and shoulder strap- - - "Captains of hundreds and Captains of thousands. "On our right, and occupying different points of view, are two more rows of similar construction. To the rear the view is interrupted by the massed foliage of a grove of oaks that is to straggle even into the barren precinct of the encampment amid which a line of officers quarters are arranged, and where, on pleasant days the Piously inclined may assemble to worship, in "temples not made with hands ". On the grassy slope of the hill on which we stand may be seen groups of soldiers lazily reclining in the warm sunshine, conversing of home and friends, or in delightful anticipation of the future "good time coming ". On the opened parade grounds in the front are squads of men engaged in the disciplinary exercises of the soldier dressed in the uniforms of the several branches of military service, or in no uniform but the uniform variety of the citizen; and here and there in groups sitting standing lying, talking, laughing, joking and doing everything that human ingenuity can devise to pass over the worrisome hours, burdened by an almost insupportable weight of dullness. An occasional crinoline, on doubtful errands, is seen flitting about among the solders, PERHAPS vending articles of necessity, and PERHAPS bargaining (not her virtue) but her faded charms to be delivered at some failure assignation. Yonder approaches a phalanx of men bearing on their shoulders what a distance reminds you of the palankeen of an oriental grandee, but which proves to be only a hand carriage for the transportation of provision from the Commissary to the several kitchens. Yonder comes a long line of men arrayed in the royal blue of Uncle Sam's livery, wending their way towards headquarters to report for duty; and on every side, men doing nothing but laboring as the post says, "To lash the lingering moments into speed" and hasten the transits oft he year of service before them. I will just mention the Post Office and Sutter Shop in the rear which with camp Privies and headquarters' eating house are objects far more important in FUNCTIONS than in appearance .....
Having completed a survey
of the general features of the camp we will inspect a little more closely
the objects which I have pointed out. There are 45 barracks on the ground,
numbered from one upwards, each about 80feet in length and 20 in width,
affording accommodations for one hundred men, in respect to eating and
sleeping. A description of one will suffice for all. The entrance is at
the middle of one side, opening upon an alley of some l5feet in width.
On the inside are three tiers of bunks or berths on each side, one above
the other and extending the whole length except for nooks for windows and
doors. Their are two windows on each side, one in the cable end, and two
skylights opening in the roof serving the double purpose of windows and
ventilators. Through the centre runs a table, terminating at one end the
kitchen door. The movable furnitum consists of a large box-stave at each
end, with pipes extending the whole length of the barracks, and benches
accommodated to the length of the table. The kitchen is about 12 feet partitioned
from one and furnished with a large cook-stove and dishes requisite to
furnish the table, not with a China tea-set, but that which is jully as
substantial - bright tin-ware - on which rations are served up three times
a day, a corps of cooks detailed for the purpose, and consist of the regular
government course, of bread, meat, coffee and sugar, and dessert of such
luxuries as the soldier may indulge in at his own expense. Such are the
abodes of the private soldier during the process of organization and preparation
for the field of war. Here are thrown together representatives of almost
every family circle in this broad state. Some alas! Destined to high uncertain
fortunes of war, never more to meet the love ones at home. Here are the
mass of incongruous human elements mingling together in a strange compound;
the rich, the poor educated and uneducated good and bad, forced to associate
on a level as private soldiers only by the common bond of patriotism, and
yet compelled by circumstances to form these unassimilated elements into
new and strange associations .....