Ole  Christensen

Ole Christensen

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

The Scandinavian Regiment

Name at Enlist Ole Christensen
Birth Name
Lived ca. 1843 - ca. 1928
Residence at Muster-In Manitowoc County, WI
Company at Enlistment F
Rank at Enlistment Private
Muster Date 12 Dec 1861
Spouse Isabella

Ole Christenson was enlisted in Company F of the 15th WI by Captain Charles Gustafson at Manitowoc County, WI on October 20, 1861 for a 3-year term of service. The men of his company called themselves "K.K.'s Protectors" after the 15th's first Lieutenant Colonel Kiler K. Jones. They were also known as the "Valdres Company" because a large number of them hailed from that area of Norway. Ole was mustered into Federal service as a Private (Menig) on December 12, 1861 at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI. At the time he was 18 years old and not married. His residence was listed as Manitowoc County, WI and his occupation as farmer. He was recorded as having blue eyes, light colored hair and complexion, and standing 5 feet 6 inches tall.

On January 14, 1862, the men of the 15th were issued Belgian rifle muskets. After almost 3 months at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Private Christenson left there in early March 1862 with his company and regiment to join the war. From then until December 1862, he was listed as "Present" with the 15th. He 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 the campaign though 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.

Private Christenson next participated in the October 8, 1862 fighting at Perryville, Boyle County, KY, which is also called the Battle of Chaplin Hills. While Perryville was the 15th's first big battle, it emerged without any fatalities. He also took part in the skirmish with retreating Confederates near Lancaster, KY on October 14, 1862.

In late December 1862, Private Christenson 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. He also fought at the long, cold, wet, and bloody Battle of Stone River, TN, also called the Battle of Murfreesboro, at the end of December 1862. It is there that the 15th first suffered serious battle casualties, and was cited for bravery. Private Christenson was one of those casualties, having been "severely" wounded in the "right arm" on December 31, 1862. He ended up in an army hospital "near Murfreesboro" with Sergeant Nils J. Gilbert of Company A, who mentioned him thus in a January, 1863, letter to his brother.

"...with God's help, I hope I will soon be sent from here to Nashville where we can get good care. Ole Christensen is here with me and is of great help to me. He is wounded in the right arm."

In early January 1863, Private Christenson was sent to an Army General Hospital near Murfreesboro, TN, to recover from his wound. In March 1863, he returned to the 15th, which was camped near Murfreesboro, TN. 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 regiment left Winchester to participate in General Rosecrans' Chickamauga campaign. Private Christenson was then shown as "present" with the regiment until October 1863. As such he would have been with the 15th at the daring early morning crossing of the Tennessee River on August 28th, which the regiment 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, as well as the near capture of the regiment 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.

Private Christenson would have then served with the regiment during the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, TN, which began right after the battle. The siege resulted in severe shortages of medicine, food, and firewood which, together with cold, wet weather, caused much suffering, sickness, and death. On October 13, 1863, Private Christenson was assigned as a guard with the Army supply wagon train from Chattanooga over the mountains to Stevenson, AL. This 3-week assignment was by all accounts a physically challenging and dangerous trip. Starting November 17, 1863, Private Christenson was listed as "left sick" at the General Hospital in Stevenson. A week later 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, the 15th was 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. Private Christenson returned to the 15th in time to be left sick in Knoxville, TN beginning February 24, 1864. He returned to the regiment sometime in March or April 1864 in time to participate in the beginning of General William T. Sherman's famous campaign to capture Atlanta, GA in the spring and summer of 1864. This campaign was marked by almost daily marching and/or combat for 4 months. On May 4, 1864, Private Christenson was "slightly" wounded "in left hand" at Red Clay, GA. He was then sent to recuperate at a hospital in Madison, WI.

Private Christenson did not returned to the 15th until sometime in October 1864 after the capture of Atlanta. From mid-October until its last company was mustered out in mid-February 1865, the 15th was stationed at Whitesides, TN, near Chattanooga, where it was assigned to guard a railroad bridge. Many of the 15th's soldiers considered their time at Whitesides as the easiest of the entire war service. Corporal Christenson was mustered out of Federal service along with most of the other surviving members of Company F on January 15, 1865 at Chattanooga, TN upon the end of his 3-year term of service.

After the war on April 14, 1870, he filed a pension. On January 29, 1929, his widow Isabella filed a pension in his name.

 

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); Oberst Heg og hans gutter [Colonel Heg and His Boys], Waldemar Ager (Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 1916); 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); Civil War Pension Index, Roll #T288_82.


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