Take a walk around the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and explore it's military history since its founding in 1848.
Camp Randall Stadium is an outdoor stadium in the north central United States, located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin. It has been the home of Wisconsin Badgers football in rudimentary form since 1895, and as a fully functioning stadium since 1917. The oldest and fifth largest stadium in the Big Ten Conference, Camp Randall is the 41st largest stadium in the world, with a seating capacity of 80,321. Camp Randall Stadium is not named after the team or someone associated with the university. Camp Randall was an army base during the American Civil War and the Badgers stadium was built on its location.
While today it is known as home of University of Wisconsin-Madison Badger football, Camp Randall got its name during the Civil War as the primary training camp for soldiers from our state. Of the 91,327 Wisconsin soldiers who fought, some 70,000 trained at Camp Randall. In 1912 a Memorial Arch was dedicated in their honor where Dayton Street meets Randall Avenue. The ceremony was the occasion for a reunion and celebration. Be sure to check out the other memorials related to Camp Randall’s Civil War past, including the guard house, Lincoln in Wisconsin sign, and the brown historic site marker.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Memorial Union was built with two purposes in mind. Look at the back terrace facing Lake Mendota on a glorious sunny day to discover one. You will see groups of students gathered to relax and socialize, exactly what UW President Charles Van Hise envisioned in his 1904 inaugural address when he called for a student union. The other purpose is found sealed in the cornerstone of the building, laid on Memorial Day, 1927. It is called the Memorial Union because that cornerstone contains the names of students who served their country in the military, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
One look at the University of Wisconsin Armory and Gymnasium building and you can see why most people refer to it as the Red Gym. Opened in 1894, the red brick building built in the Romanesque Revival style resembles a castle. The fortress-like structure emphasized its military training function by expressing stability and permanence. It addressed the University’s need for better athletic facilities, as well as improved military training for male students.
Gold Star families are immediate relatives of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been killed in combat or in support of certain military activities. The Gold Star Family Memorial Garden was dedicated and unveiled on August 22, 2018. Made possible by the National Garden Clubs, Inc., the Wisconsin Garden Club Federation, America’s Gold Star Families and the State of Wisconsin, it is the first in the nation to be placed on state capitol grounds.
Did you know an eagle lived in the Wisconsin State Capitol building for 17 years in his own two room apartment with a personal caretaker and custom bathtub? Old Abe was a bald eagle who served as the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. He marched with them into battle, kept them company in camp, and boosted their morale. After three years of service, he returned to Wisconsin and took up residence in the Capitol building. Old Abe became a nationally-known celebrity, traveling around the state and country to make appearances at veterans’ reunions and fundraisers. P. T. Barnum, the famous circus showman, unsuccessfully tried to buy Old Abe for $20,000.
The Wisconsin Veterans Museum has been a Smithsonian Affiliate since 2013 and offers exhibits and programs that interpret the role of Wisconsin veterans in shaping the nation’s history. Stories of Wisconsin veterans from the Civil War through the present day are intended to educate and inspire guests to learn more of the state's military history at this museum which offers free admission to the public. Highlights of the museum include a Civil War cannon captured at the Battle of Shiloh, letters written by a World War I army nurse, and the option to listen to oral history interviews with local veterans of World War II. The museum also includes an exhibit that includes the Medal of Honor which was posthumously awarded to a local soldier in the Korean War, a Huey helicopter that flew missions in Vietnam, a Cold War era submarine periscope, and exhibits dedicated to the service of Wisconsin women and men in modern military conflicts.