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Wisconsin in the Civil War

New Volunteers Amuse Themselves at Training Camp

New recruits were outfitted, taught how to use their weapons, and drilled at a dozen training camps around the state (the most famous being Camp Randall in Madison). On May 24, 1861, a writer, signing himself only as "C", describes how new recruits in the 1st Wisconsin Infantry spent their leisure hours at Camp Scott. It was located in Milwaukee at Wells Street and Kilbourn Avenue, on the modern Marquette University campus. A second Milwaukee camp, successively named Trowbridge, Holton, Sigel and then Reno, was located on the lakeshore at the end of Prospect Avenue.

Chess constitutes an agreeable and profitable pastime, and is practiced to a limited extent. There are a few skilled players in camp, who fill up their leisure hours with this game. Card and ball playing are more general favorites, in which a large proportion of the men engage.

Select parties not unfrequently "trip the light, fantastic toe" to the music of the violin. A dance got up by Company A, and participated in by officers of the regiment and ladies from the city, enlivened the camp last evening, and was the centre of a good deal of attraction. The lovely evening, with the moon smiling down suspiciously upon them, augmented the pleasure of the occasion.

Divers and sundry counterfeit representations of the different species in the animal kingdom, including elephants, giraffes, dromedaries, ostriches, too numerous to mention, original entirely, and beyond description, are frequently paraded through the camp for the inspection and diversion of the boys. Now and then a mock Court Martial is instituted for some alleged offense in the course of which, laughable proceedings are developed, & and so wit and genius find outlets in these different channels.

Source: E.B. Quiner Scrapbooks: "Correspondence of the Wisconsin Volunteers, 1861-1865," Volume 1, page 8.

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Soldiers drilling at Camp Randall.
Soldiers drilling at Camp Randall

WHI 4226
1st Infantry printed stationery to be sent from camp.
1st Infantry printed stationery to be sent from Camp Trowbridge.

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