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Well, you’re asking the right U.S. President about the Camp Randall Memorial Arch. I governed our nation during one of its most turbulent times: the Civil War. At that time, Camp Randall was not a football stadium — it was a training camp for 70,000 Wisconsin troops, representing nearly all of the state’s military might.

Named for Gov. Alexander W. Randall, the encampment also served as a stockade and hospital for 1,400 Confederate soldiers captured at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. Many of them died at Camp Randall and were buried at “soldiers’ rest” at a cemetery on Madison’s west side — the northernmost Confederate cemetery in the United States. Union soldiers who died at Camp Randall are also buried at soldiers’ rest, in a separate section of the cemetery.

The Camp Randall Memorial Arch on Monroe Street was dedicated in 1912, and it serves as the entrance to the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Park. It’s also the entrance to Camp Randall Stadium for the UW Marching Band on football Saturdays.

The two statues that flank the arch — an enlisted solider and an officer — do not have names, because they represent all of Wisconsin’s Civil War soldiers. The “1912” inscription on the officer’s pedestal refers to the dedication date of the arch, and the “1861–1865” inscription on the enlisted soldier’s pedestal marks the years our country fought the Civil War.

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