John M. Johnson

Believed to have been taken circa 1861/1862.

Photo Collection PH2361, Iconography, State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

John M. Johnson

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

The Scandinavian Regiment

Name at Enlist John M. Johnson
Birth Name Johan Martin Johannesen
Other Names Johannes
Patronymic Name Johannesen
Lived 1832 - 19 Sep 1863
Birth Place Bergen
Birth Country Norway
Residence at Muster-In Madison, Dane County, WI
Company at Enlistment E
2nd Company A
Rank at Enlistment Lieutenant
Muster Date 1861
Cause of Death Killed in action at Chickamauga
Death Location Chickamauga, Walker County, GA
Burial Location Buried in an unmarked grave on the Chickamauga battlefield
Father Johannes Johannesen
Immigration 1854

John M. Johnson joined at the recommendation of Colonel (Oberst) Iver Tjentland. His residence at the time was Madison, Dane County, WI.

After nearly 3 months at Camp Randall learning to be an officer, Lieutenant Johnson left there in early March 1862, with Company E and the regiment to join the war. From then until September 1863, he was listed as "Present" with the 15th. As such he would have participated in 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 General Buell up to Louisville, KY, with the last 2 weeks being on half rations and short of water.

On September 2, 1862, 1st Lieutenant Tjentland resigned his commission and left the Army, leaving Company E with only 2 officers. Lieutenant Johnson would have been present at the October 8, 1862, Battle of Perryville, KY, which is also called the Battle of Chaplin Hills. While this was the 15th's first big battle, it emerged without any fatalities.

At the recommendation of Colonel Heg, the Governor of WI commissioned Lieutenant Johnson as the new Captain (Kaptein) of Company A on November 8, 1862, to rank from October 20, 1862. He replaced Captain Oliver G. Thompson.

On December 26, 1862, Captain Johnson led Company A 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. He also led the company during the long, cold, wet, and bloody Battle of Stone River, TN, also called the Battle of Murfreesboro, on December 30-31, 1862. It is there that the 15th first suffered serious battle casualties, and was cited for bravery. In his after action report Colonel Heg wrote that Captain Johnson in particular "deserved to be remembered" for his actions during the battle. The following is from Buslett's 1895 history of the 15th WI.

"After the battle General Rosecrans issued an order to the various regiments' commanders to submit to headquarters a list of one sergeant, two corporals and four or five privates in each company (altogether no more than six from each company), who had shown the greatest courage and ability during the battle. These would be entered on the Roll of Honor."

 Captain Johnson's was subsequently entered on the Roll of Honor for the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 20th Army Corps for his actions in the battle.

The 15th camped in the Murfreesboro area for the next 6 months, except for 2 weeks in February when it was sent to Franklin, TN. On May 7, 1863, at Murfreesboro, TN, Captain Johnson was finally mustered into the Federal Army at the rank of Captain (Kaptein), with his rank to date from November 10, 1862. Starting June 23, 1863, the regiment took part in General Rosecrans' Tullahoma campaign. On July 3, 1863, it camped at Winchester, Franklin County, TN.

On August 17, 1863, the 15th left Winchester to participate in General Rosecrans' Chickamauga campaign. Captain Johnson is believed to have been present at the daring early morning crossing of the Tennessee River on August 28th, which the 15th led. On September 19, 1863, Captain Johnson led Company A into the fighting at Chickamauga, GA -- the second bloodiest battle of the war. Some 63% of the 15th's soldiers who were at Chickamauga were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. Early on the afternoon of the 19th, Captain Johnson was killed in action amidst the fierce fighting near Viniard's Farm. He was said to have been "hit with a bullet through the heart." His body fell into the hands of the Confederate Army, which controlled the battlefield for several months afterwards. After his death, command of Company A fell to Lieutenant Thompson. He was killed in action the next morning, leaving the company in command of 1st Sergeant Arnoldus Schlambusch.

In the 15th's after action report on the battle, Captain Johnson was cited as an officer "....who showed more than ordinary courage and bravery during the battle." Buslett's 1895 history of the 15th WI says this about him.

"He was a conscientious and beloved officer who was concerned for his subordinates' well-being and, when he received an order from a superior, he did not stop to consider it but executed it immediately. There was great sorrow when word came of his death; a friend and a brave soldier had fallen."

Sources: Report to the Governor on the 15th Wisconsin at the Battle of Stone (sic) River by Colonel Hans C. Heg (Murfreesboro, TN, January 9, 1863); The Battle of Chickamauga, Captain Mons Grinager (Chattanooga, TN, September 29, 1863); Civil War Compiled Military Service Records, Office of Adjutant General of the United States (Washington, DC); Regimental Descriptive Rolls, Volume 20, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1885); Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Volume 1, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1886).


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