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Odd Wisconsin Archive

The Start of the Civil War


Yesterday we gave you stories of how Wisconsin residents greeted the end of the Civil War in 1865. This morning we leap back four years to show you how they greeted its arrival, when Southern troops attacked Fort Sumter on this day in 1861.

Following the outbreak of the war, a mass meeting was held in Madison and spontaneous demonstrations occurred in Beloit and Beaver Dam. When President Lincoln called for soldiers to stop the Southern insurrection, more Wisconsin volunteers came forward than could initially be used, and Governor Randall set up a training camp for troops. If you've ever been to a football game in Madison, you've walked the same ground where 70,000 Wisconsin men and boys trained to fight the bloodiest war in American history.

They came from all parts of the state and all ethnic communities. Companies and regiments were formed from Indian communities in the North, Irish neighborhoods in the South, and everywhere in between. Beloit troops moved out in May, heading south after only a few weeks training. You can learn more about Camp Randall at the UW's Wisconsin Electronic Reader, and you can find hundreds of personal anecdotes, pictures and other firsthand accounts through the Civil War page of Turning Points in Wisconsin History.


:: Posted in Curiosities on April 12, 2005
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