Hans  Borchsenius

Lithograph believed to have been taken after the American Civil War.

Image is from Danske I Kamp i og for Amerika by P. S. Vig.

Hans Borchsenius

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

The Scandinavian Regiment

Name at Enlist Hans Borchsenius
Birth Name
Other Names Hans Theodor Sophus Borchsenius
Lived 9 Sept 1832 - 20 Apr 1908
Birth Place Nestved, Seeland
Birth Country Denmark
Residence at Muster-In Christiana, Dane County, WI
Rank at Enlistment Adjutant
Muster Date 7 Dec 1861
Death Location Madison, Dane County, WI
Burial Location Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, WI
Mother Elisabeth Dorothea Arnesen
Mother Lived 1804- 1839
Father Carl Wilhelm Borchsenius
Father Lived 1803- 1858
Immigration 1856
Spouse Martha Marie Hansdatter Bakke
Spouse Lived 1841-1927
Married On 14 Oct 1860
Marriage Location Christiana, Dane County, WI

After arriving in America, Hans Borchsenius spent a short period in New York City before coming to Madison, WI. For a time he drove a horse-drawn stage coach between Madison and Portage, Columbia County, WI. He then went to work at the Norwegian language newspaper Norsk Amerikaner [Norwegian American] where he learned to be a printer. In 1858, Hans purchased the newspaper and renamed it the Nordstjernen [North Star]. That same year, he unsuccessfully ran as the Democratic political party candidate for the position of clerk of the Dane County, WI, Board of Supervisors. In 1859, Hans married a woman from Norway and purchased a farm in Christiania, Dane County. In 1860, Hans switched to the recently formed Republican political party, which he remained a member of for the rest of his life. That same year on October 14, he married Martha Marie Bakke in Christiania.

About 6 months after the American Civil War started in 1861, Hans Borchsenius volunteered to help recruit men for what became Company B of the 15th WI. At the recommendation of the 15th's commander, Colonel Hans C. Heg, Hans Borchsenius was then commissioned as the 15th's Regimental Adjutant by the Governor of Wisconsin on December 10, 1861, to be effective as of December 7, 1861. Hans was mustered into Federal service as Adjutant on February 13, 1862, at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI. At the time he was listed as 29 years old.

After over 2 months at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Adjutant Borchsenius left there on March 2, 1862, with his regiment to join the war. From then until September 1862, he was listed as "present" with the 15th. He participated in the successful siege of Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River in Tennessee and the surprise raid on Union City, TN, in March and April 1862. Starting May 3, 1862, Adjutant Borchsenius was reported as "sick" on Island No. 10 with what was described as "nervous fever" [typhoid fever]. He was still sick when Colonel Heg departed the island on June 11, 1862, with 8 of the regiment's 10 companies.

After recovering from his illness, Adjutant Borchsenius also left Island No. 10. He caught up with the 8 companies, which were then on campaign through Mississippi and Alabama. In August and September Adjutant Borchsenius participated in the grueling 400-mile retreat led by US Major General Don Carlos Buell from Alabama up to Louisville, KY, with the last 2 weeks being on half rations and short of water. During the retreat Colonel Heg appointed Borchsenius as acting Major of the 15th, to temporarily fill the vacancy created by the August 27, 1862, resignation of Major Charles M. Reese.

Unfortunately, the long, hard march severely weakened Borchsenius' physical health. In a letter dated September 27, 1862, written from "In Camp near Louisville, Ky." to General Buell, commander of the Army of the OH, Adjutant Borchsenius "respectfully tendered his resignation on account of ill health." That same day Colonel Heg wrote, "Respectfully forwarded and most urgently recommended" on the back of the letter. Accompanying it was a medical certificate dated the 27th, which was written and signed by the 15th's Surgeon, Steven O. Himoe. It included the following statement:

"I do hereby certify that I have carefully examined said officer and find that he after having suffered from a protracted attack of typhoid fever, has for months been subjected to dangerous chronic diarrhoea together with general debility and that he, in my opinion, is unfit for duty. I further declare my belief, that he will not for a very long time, or perhaps never, be able to perform the duties of the military service."

Adjutant Borchsenius's resignation was approved, effective September 28, 1862.

After returning from the army, Hans Borchsenius was hired as a clerk in the Wisconsin Secretary of State's office, after which he worked for 5 years in the Wisconsin Land Department. In 1868, he again ran for the position of Dane County Clerk, this time as a Republican. He won the election, and was re-elected in 1870. Hans also published a campaign newspaper in Madison called the Wisconsin Banner, which supported the 1872 election of Governor Lewis. He purchased the Capital House hotel in Madison, which he ran from 1872 to 1874. In 1873, he was appointed as U.S. Gauger. He was appointed as a state timber agent by Wisconsin Governor Ludington, a position he served in from 1874 to 1878. Hans Borchsenius attended law school in Madison and was admitted to the Dane County bar in 1876.

In 1877 Hans moved to Baldwin, St. Croix County, WI. There he practiced law, engaged in buying and selling land and in lending money. He was subsequently twice elected as President of Baldwin, and once as the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of St. Croix County.

In 1891, U.S. President Benjamin Harrison appointed Hans Borchsenius as Chief of the Internal Revenue Division at the US Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. Hans returned to Baldwin in 1893, and in 1896 he was elected to the Wisconisn Assembly. He subsequently retired from business and moved to Madison in 1897. He became seriously ill in September of 1907 and was confined to his home at 717 Langdon Street (now the site of the University of WI Memorial Library). In February 1908, he underwent an operation, after which he remained bedridden until his death 2 months later. Hans Borchsenius was survived by his wife, a daughter, Dora, and 2 sons.

 

Sources: Genealogical data from Dee Anna Grimsrud, MLIS, CGRS; Genealogical data from his relatives Jacob Borchsenius and Kaare Borchsenius; Danske i Kamp i og for Amerika by P. S. Vig (Omaha, Nebraska, 1917) with the Borchsenius biography translated by Anders Rasmussen; Civil War Compiled Military Service Records, Office of Adjutant General of the United States (Washington, DC); Wisconsin Blue Book, (1897); History of Dane County, Biographical and Genealogical, (1906); History of Northern Wisconsin, (1881); Madison Democrat newspaper, (Madison, Wisconsin, April 21, 1908); Det Femtende Regiment, Wisconsin Frivillige [The Fifteenth Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers], Ole A. Buslett (Decorah, IA, 1894); and, Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Volume I, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, WI, 1886).


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