Johan  Jensen

Johan Jensen

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

The Scandinavian Regiment

Name at Enlist Johan Jensen
Birth Name Johan Jensen Hovland
Patronymic Name Jensen
Lived 25 Jun 1844 - ca. 1869
Birth Place Hovland, Faaberg, Oppland
Birth Country Norway
Residence at Muster-In Orford (now Orfordville), Rock County, WI
Company at Enlistment G
Rank at Enlistment Private
Muster Date 14 Jan 1862
Mother Kirsti Larsdtr Rindal
Mother Lived 1805- ca. 1862
Father Jens Bendtsen Hovland
Father Lived 1804 Dec 10- 1884
Immigration 1857

Johan Jensen Hovland enlisted under the name Johan Jensen in Company G of the 15th WI. He was enlisted by Captain Simon Hovland also enlisted in Company G. Johan was mustered into Federal service as a Private on January 14, 1862 at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI. At the time he was listed as 18 years old and not married. His residence was recorded as Orford (now Orfordville), Rock County, WI.

Also on January 14, 1862, the men of the 15th WI were issued Belgian rifled muskets. After about 6 weeks at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Private Jenson left there in early March 1862 with his company and regiment to join the war. From then until October 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 when 8 companies of the regiment left Island No. 10, Private Jenson remained behind with Companies I and G on extended guard duty. These 2 companies would not rejoin the rest of the regiment for 15 months. During that time the other 8 companies participated in several campaigns as well as the battles at Perryville, KY, at Murfreesboro (Stones River), TN, and at Chickamauga GA.

Initially Companies I and G were camped across the Mississippi River from Island No. 10 on the TN side at New Madrid Bend. There they were engaged in capturing Confederate soldiers who had escaped when the island was captured, and hunting down sometimes on horseback, local groups of rebel guerrillas who were resisting the Union occupation. The area around Island No. 10 was considered to be unhealthy and many of the 15th soldiers there became ill, with several dying of disease. In early October 1862, their camp, which consisted of 150 men, was attacked just before dawn by about 300 Confederate Cavalry. The attack was badly managed and quickly repulsed with virtually no loss, but afterwards the Union camp was moved over to Island No. 10. There the 15th soldiers were safe from attack behind the Confederate-built fortifications with their 80 cannons. A drawing of the 15th's camp on the island can be viewed by clicking HERE.

In December 1862, a curious incident threatened their safety and caused the 15th's soldiers to repeatedly refuse orders. Union General Thomas E. Davis sent an order to Island No. 10 ordering the soldiers there to spike the cannons and throw their ammunition into the Mississippi River to keep it from being captured by the Confederates. In reality there were no Confederate troops anywhere nearby and the 15th soldiers were safe from attack on the island, so they repeatedly refused to obey the orders. Finally the General sent an officer to the island who forced the men to obey. The 15th soldiers managed to save a great deal of the ammunition and destroy the cannons in such a way that they could still be repaired, though for 3 days afterward the island was almost completely defenseless. After the officer departed, the 15th soldiers fired on a passing Union steamboat, forcing it to stop. They explained the situation to an officer on board, who carried the news down river to Union General U. S. Grant near Vicksburg, MS. Once General Grant heard of these strange orders he immediately relieved General Davies of command and life returned to normal at the island.

On August 19, 1863, Companies G and I exchanged their old Belgian weapons for new British Enfield .58 caliber rifled muskets. On September 2, 1863, the 2 companies were ordered to rejoin the rest of the 15th. After a 3-week trip by steamboat, railroad train, and foot they were reunited with the remnants of the regiment at Chattanooga, TN. They arrived on the morning after the September 19-20, 1863, fighting at Chickamauga, GA -- the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Some 63% of the 15th's soldiers who were at Chickamauga were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. The arrival of the 2 companies more than doubled the size of the regiment.

Private Jenson would have then served with the 15th during the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, TN, which began right after the battle. The siege caused severe shortages of food and firewood which, together with cold wet weather, caused much suffering, sickness, and death. Starting October 13, 1863, Private Jenson was assigned as a Guard with the Army supply wagon train from Chattanooga, over the mountains to the Federal depot at Stevenson, AL. This was by all accounts a physically challenging and dangerous trip. Private Jenson was once again with the 15th in early November 1863. The Confederate siege was finally broken by the Union Army's victorious charge up Mission Ridge on November 25, 1863, which the 15th took part in.

Starting right after Mission Ridge Private Jenson and the 15th were engaged in almost non-stop marching and counter-marching all over Eastern TN throughout the winter of 1863/1864. By many original accounts, this was the worst period of the regiment's 3-year term of service. Poor rations, inadequate clothing and shelter, and unseasonably cold weather made these months nearly unbearable.

Starting in May 1864, Private Jenson and the 15th participated in General Sherman's famous campaign to capture Atlanta, GA. This campaign was marked by almost daily marching and/or combat for 4 months straight. It included fighting at Rocky Face Ridge in early May; at the bloody Battle of Resaca on May 14-15; and at the disastrous Battle of Pickett's Mill (often called Dallas or New Hope Church) on May 27 where the 15th suffered fearful casualties. The 15th's role in the campaign also included taking part in the fighting at Kenesaw Mountain on June 23; at Atlanta on July 22; at Jonesboro on September 1; and at Lovejoy Station on September 4, 1864. After Atlanta was captured in early September, the 15th and Private Jenson enjoyed a well-earned period of rest near Atlanta.

The 15th was briefly assigned to Provost (police) duty in Chattanooga in early October. This was followed by several months of guarding a railroad bridge at Whitesides, TN, which some of the 15th's soldiers felt was the easiest duty of their war service. On January 13, 1865, Private Jenson and most of the other survivors of Company G were mustered out of Federal service upon the end of their 3-year term of service. At muster out the Army noted that Johan was due $100 in bounty money. The men who had been mustered out of Company G departed for WI and home.

On February 13, 1865, Johan Jenson enlisted at Madison, WI, for a 1-year term of service in Company K, 2nd U.S. Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the 1st Army Corps. On his enlistment form he was recorded as being a Farmer with "blue eyes, brown hair, light complexion" and standing "6 feet 1 inches high." He was mustered into the U.S. Army as a Private on February 16, 1865, at Madison. The Army noted that he had earned a $400 bounty for enlisting, and that his enlistment was credited to Spring Valley, Rock County, WI.

On March 11, 1865, Private Jenson was promoted to 3rd Corporal. On March 23, 1865, he was recorded as being "Present" at Camp Stoneman, MD, which was near Washington, D.C. In December 1865, he was reduced to the rank of Private. On February 13, 1866, Private Jenson was mustered out of the Army at Elmira, NY, at the end of his 1-year term of service. Elmira was the site of a large camp that had held Confederate prisoners during the war. It is said that after being mustered out Johan joined his brothers Simon and Lars in Goodhue County, MN, where he is believed to have died some 3 to 4 years later.

 

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, 1894, Decorah, IA; 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 I, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1886); genealogical data from his great grandniece Barbara Levorsen Quinn; Oppland fylke, Fåberg, Ministerialbok nr. 5 (1836-1854), Fødte og døpte 1844, p.91-92; Oppland fylke, Fåberg, Ministerialbok nr. 6B (1855-1867), Inn- og utflyttede 1857-1858, p.363.


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