Christian  Knudson

Image taken after May 1862, and before September 1863.

Wisconsin Historical Society, Iconography, ID 87559

Christian Knudson

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

The Scandinavian Regiment

Name at Enlist Christian Knudson
Birth Name
Patronymic Name Knudsen
Lived ca. 1845 - 26 Jun 1864
Birth Place Lands Prestegjeld
Birth Country Norway
Residence at Muster-In Fillmore County, MN
Company at Enlistment K
Rank at Enlistment Private
Muster Date 11 Feb 1862
Cause of Death Anasaica
Death Location Andersonville Prison Camp, Andersonville, GA
Burial Location Grave No. 2498, Andersonville National Cemetery, Andersonville, GA
Mother Betsey
Mother Lived 1810-
Father Knud Olson
Father Lived 1811-
Immigration 1853

Christian Knudson was born about 1845 in Norway to Knud Olson and Betsey. In 1860, they were living in Douglass, Fillmore County, MN. He worked as a farmhand. His siblings included Betsey, Ann, Ole, Caroline, John, Andrew, Sarah, and Eliza.

Knudson was enlisted by M. Jenson in Company K of the 15th WI in Fillmore County, MN on February 11, 1862 for a 3-year term of service. The men of Company K called themselves "Clausen's Guards" in honor of the 15th's first Chaplain, Claus L. Clausen. Christian was mustered into Federal service at the rank of Private (Menig) as of February 11, 1862 at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI. At the time he was listed by the Army as 17 years old and not married. His residence was recorded as Fillmore County, MN.

After only a few weeks at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Private Knudson left there on March 2, 1862 with his company and regiment to join the war. From then until October 1862, he was listed as "present." It was also reported that he was "sick in the hospital" for some period during March and April 1862. As such he may or may not have taken an active role in the successful siege of Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River in TN during late March and early April 1862 or in the surprise raid on Union City, TN at the end of March.

After the Confederates surrendered Island No. 10 on April 7, 1862, Companies A, F, H, I, and K were sent to occupy the island. There was much hard, physical work to be done on the island, and quickly. The slave-built fortifications contained many cannons, which the Confederates had had installed to defend against a Union attack coming down from the north along the Mississippi River. These had to be moved and the fortifications changed so they could be used to defend the island against a possible Confederate assault coming up the river from the south. This task was made even more difficult due to the unhealthy nature of the island and with problems getting an adequate supply of rations. These conditions caused many complaints, sickness, and even death amongst the soldiers there.

On June 11, 1862, Private Knudson departed Island No. 10 by steamboat along with his company and regiment to go on summer campaign through TN, MS, and AL. In August and September he would have participated in the grueling 400-mile retreat from Iuka, MS up to Louisville, KY. During this forced march, the 15th's soldiers walked 20 or more miles a day, and did so on half rations and very little drinking water during the last half of the retreat.

In Louisville, the 15th became part of the Army of the OH infantry led by U.S. Major General Don Carlos Buell. Private Knudson would have next been present at the October 8, 1862 fighting at the village of 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. Starting October 18, 1862, Private Knudson was reported "Absent sick in hosp. Danville, Ky." Starting October 26 or 27, 1862, he was listed as "sick in hospital at Lebanon, Ky." He did not return to the regiment for 6 months.

From May 1863 until September 1863, Private Knudson was again listed as "present" with the 15th. At the time of his return the regiment was encamped near Murfreesboro, TN. Starting June 23, 1863, the 15th left there to take part in the Tullahoma campaign led by U.S. Major General William S. Rosecrans. 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 Knudson 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. There he survived the vicious fighting around Viniard's Farm on the first afternoon, but was one of about 2 dozen 15th soldiers, including the regiment's commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ole C. Johnson, who were captured near Brotherton Field around midday on the 20th during Longstreet's Breakthrough. Some 63% of the 15th's soldiers who were at Chickamauga were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner during the battle.

The 15th's prisoners were marched to Tunnel Hill, GA and then taken by railroad train via Atlanta, GA to Richmond, VA, the Confederate capital. There they were imprisoned and their money confiscated. The 15th initially listed Private Knudson as "Missing" but was notified on November 4, 1863, that he was alive and being held as a prisoner in Richmond.

According to prisoner of war records, Private Knudson was transferred from Richmond to a prisoner of war camp at Danville, VA on December 12, 1863. In March 1864, many of the 15th's soldiers were sent further south to the infamous Andersonville Prison Camp in GA. It was there that Private Knudson was "Admitted to Hospital" on June 25, 1864, where he died the next day. Prison records listed him as "J. Knudson" and noted that he died of "anasarka" (anasaica - congestive heart failure).

 

Sources: Civil War Compiled Military Service Records, Office of Adjutant General of the United States (Washington, DC);  Det Femtende Regiment, Wisconsin Frivillige [The Fifteenth Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers], Ole A. Buslett (Decorah, Iowa, 1894); Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Volume I, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1886); 1860 Census, Roll: M653_569, Page: 96, Image: 101, Family History Library Film: 803569.


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