Nils  Einarson

Nils Einarson

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

The Scandinavian Regiment

Name at Enlist Nils Einarson
Birth Name Niels Einarsen Eggum
Other Names Nils Enersen Nilsen; Einar (Nels E.) Nelson
Patronymic Name Einarsen
Lived 18 Jan 1841 - 12 Jan 1913
Birth Place Eggum, Borgund in Lærdal parish, Sogn og Fjordane
Birth Country Norway
Residence at Muster-In Perry, Dane County, WI
Company at Enlistment H
Rank at Enlistment Private
Muster Date 13 Feb 1862
Cause of Death apoplexy
Death Location Stoughton, Dane County, WI
Burial Location Greenwood Township Lutheran Cemetery, Hillsboro, Vernon County, WI
Mother Guri Paulsdatter Eggum
Mother Lived 30 Apr 1821-
Father Einer Nielsen Nedreqvamme
Father Lived 23 Feb 1810-
Immigration 1854
Spouse Betsey (Barbro) Johnson
Married On 03 May 1869
Marriage Location Hillsboro, Vernon County, WI

Niels Einarsen Eggum was enlisted under the name Nils Einarson by Captain John Ingmundson on November 8, 1861. Nels joined up at Madison, WI, for a 3-year term of service in Company H of the 15th WI. The men of the company called themselves"Heg's Rifles," but they were also known as the "Voss Company" because a large number of its members were from that area of Norway. Nels was mustered into Federal service as a Private (Menig) on February 13, 1862 at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI. At the time he was 21 years old and not married. He is recorded as having blue eyes, light colored hair and complexion, standing 5 feet 6 1/2 inches tall, and being by occupation a farmer. His residence was listed as Perry, Dane County, WI. Before enlisting he was working as a farm laborer.

After only several weeks at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Private Einerson left there on March 2, 1862 with his company and regiment to join the war. He was "present" at the successful siege of Island No. 10, on the Mississippi River in TN, and the surprise raid on Union City, TN, in March and April 1862. That summer he would have been with the 15th on campaign through TN, MS, and AL. In August and September he would have participated in the grueling 400-mile retreat with U.S. Major General Don Carlos Buell up to Louisville, KY, with the last 2 weeks being on half rations and short of water.

Private Einerson fought at the October 8, 1862 battle in Perryville, Boyle County, KY, which is also called the Battle of Chaplin Hills. While this was the 15th's first big battle, it emerged without any fatalities. On December 26, 1862, he participated in the 15th's desperate charge upon a Confederate artillery battery at Knob Gap, TN, just south of Nashville. There the 15th captured a brass cannon. Starting December 30, 1862, Private Einerson fought at the long, cold, wet, and bloody Battle of Stone River, TN, also called the Battle of Murfreesboro. It is there that the 15th first suffered serious battle casualties, and was cited for bravery. One of the casualties was Private Einerson. On January 1, 1863, he was "wounded in right arm below elbow while in the act of loading his gun" on the 3rd day of the battle.

Nels was sent to an Army hospital in Nashville, where he spent 6 months recovering. The following description of his wound is taken from his post-war pension application.

"The ball passed [through the] back of his neck and entered his arm from above protruding the bone and cutting the cords causing the flesh to grow fast to the bone and fingers to become weak as well as his entire arm."

Private Einerson was once again present with Company H in June 1863. Starting June 23, 1863, the regiment took part in General Rosecrans' Tullahoma campaign. On July 3, 1863, the 15th went into camp at Winchester, Franklin County, TN, for 6 weeks.

On August 17, 1863, the 15th left Winchester to participate in General Rosecrans' Chickamauga campaign. Private Einerson is believed to have been present at the daring early morning crossing of the Tennessee River on August 28th, which the 15th led. He was present at the September 19-20, 1863, fighting at Chickamauga, GA -- the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Nels survived the vicious fighting around Viniard's Farm on the first afternoon, but was captured around midday on the 20th near Brotherton Field during Longstreet's Breakthrough. Some 63% of the 15th's soldiers who were at Chickamauga were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner there.

Private Einerson was subsequently held for nearly 18 months in Confederate prisons in Richmond and Danville, VA; at Andersonville, GA; and in Charleston and Florence, SC. At Danville, he and several comrades dug a tunnel under the prison wall and escaped, but were quickly recaptured. Nels then spend 6 months at the notorious Andersonville Prison Camp. It is said that while there he entertained himself by collecting fleas in a bottle to watch them fight. He suffered from scurvy at Andersonville, as he also did at Florence.

From Florence, Private Einerson was sent back to Richmond, VA, where he was paroled to Union forces in early 1865. After his release, Nels came down with typhoid fever and was confined to a hospital in Annapolis, MD. He was released from there on furlough (leave) back to WI, where he was treated at the Harvey Hospital in Madison. Nels Einerson was finally mustered out of Federal service on July 6, 1865 at Madison, retroactive to April 20, 1865. Even the earlier date was several months after his company and regiment had mustered out and his 3-year term of service had expired. It is said Nels weighed 185 pounds when he entered the Army, but only 95 pounds when he left it.

After regaining some of his strength, Nels returned to farming, this time in Greenwood Township, Bad Ax (now called Vernon) County, WI. There in 1866, he purchased his father's farm, which was located on section 26 of Greenwood. He also resumed using his father's last name, being known after the war as Einar Nelson or Nels E. Nelson. On May 3, 1869 he married Betsy (Barbro) Johnson.

Nels E. Nelson became a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), the Union veterans organization. His 1880 application for an Invalid's Pension stated that he was partially unable to earn a living by manual labor because of "gun shot wound right fore arm, heart disease, rheumatism, general disability." His marriage yielded many children, including Gerty (1870), Bert (1872), James (1875), Edward (1877), Clarry (1878), Randenia (1880), Martha (1886) and Norman (1889).

In the 1880, 1900, and 1910 Censuses, his family was living in Greenwood, Vernon County. On April, 1911 when he moved to Stoughton, Dane County, WI. There he passed away 2 years later of "apoplexy." His burial casket was escorted by 3 of his regimental comrades: Andrew Ellicksen, A.E. Anderson, and Nels Kittelson.

 

Sources:   Det Femtende Regiment, Wisconsin Frivillige [The Fifteenth Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers], Ole A. Buslett (Decorah, Iowa, 1894); Regimental Descriptive Rolls, Volume 20, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1885); 1880 Census, Roll: 1449, Family History Film: 1255449, Page: 277B, Enumeration District: 008; 1900 Census, Roll: 1820, Page: 9A, Enumeration District: 0159, FHL microfilm: 1241820; 1910 Census, Roll: T624_1740, Page: 2A, Enumeration District: 0139, FHL microfilm: 1375753.  History of Vernon County, Wisconsin - Illustrated 1884 reproduced by Vernon County Historical Society (Viroqua, Wisconsin); Stoughton Weekly Courier newspaper (Stoughton, Wisconsin, January 17, 1913);  Genealogical data provided by Clarice Anderson, Larry Onsager, and by The Westby Area Historical Society, Ellen Pederson;


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