Stephen L. Fosse

Stephen L. Fosse

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

The Scandinavian Regiment

Name at Enlist Stephen L. Fosse
Birth Name
Patronymic Name Larsen
Lived 14 Dec 1843 - 5 Dec 1886
Birth Place Voss, Hordaland
Birth Country Norway
Residence at Muster-In Leeds, Columbia County, WI
Company at Enlistment H
Rank at Enlistment Private
Muster Date 13 Feb 1862
Death Location Dane County, WI
Mother Anna Olsdtr Bolstad
Father Lars Anderson Fosse
Spouse Emma G. Anderson
Married On 8 May 1873

Stephen L. Fosse was born on December 14, 1843 to Lars Anderson Fosse and Anna Olsdtr Bolstad. He enlisted in Company H of the 15th WI by Captain Hans C. Heg. They were also known as the "Voss Company" because many of them were originally from that area in Norway. Stephen was mustered into Federal service as a Private (Menig) on February 13, 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 Leeds Township, Columbia County, WI.

After only a few weeks at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Private Stephen Fosse left there in early March 1862 with his brothers, their company, and the rest of the regiment to join the war. From April 30 until November 1862, he was listed as "present" with the 15th. It is unclear from Army records whether 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. However, that summer he would have been with the 15th on the campaign through TN, MS, and AL.

Beginning in July or August 1862, Private Stephen Fosse became Wagoner Fosse, probably driving one of the 15th's mule or horse-drawn Army wagons. 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. At some point during that period he is recorded as having "lost one Haversack," the container in which soldiers carried their rations and cooking utensils. This was a serious loss, especially on that march.

Wagoner Stephen Fosse would have been present at, but probably did not participate in, the October 8, 1862, fighting at Perryville, Boyle County, KY, which was also called the Battle of Chaplin Hills. While this was the 15th's first big battle, it emerged without any fatalities. Starting in late November or early December 1862, Wagoner Fosse was listed as being absent "on duty" in Nashville, TN. As a result, he missed the long, cold, wet, and bloody Battle of Stone River, TN, also called the Battle of Murfreesboro, on December 30-31, 1862. It was there that the 15th first suffered serious battle casualties and was cited for bravery. One of the casualties cited for bravery was his brother Corporal Andrew L. Fosse, who was killed in action. For his bravery, Andrew Fosse was posthumously awarded the rank of Brevet Captain.

Starting in January 1863, Wagoner Stephen Fosse was again listed as being "present" with the regiment, and remained so until February 1865. From January to June 1863, the 15th camped in the Murfreesboro area, except for 2 weeks in February when it was sent to Franklin, TN. At some point in April or May 1863, Wagoner Fosse became Private Fosse again, returning to the ranks of Company H. Beginning 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.

Starting August 17, 1863, the 15th left Winchester to participate in General Rosecrans' Chickamauga campaign. Private Stephen Fosse 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 also present at the September 19-20, 1863, fighting at Chickamauga, GA -- the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War. He survived the vicious fighting around Viniard's Farm on the first afternoon, as well as the near capture of the regiment 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 Stephen Fosse would then have 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 14, 1863, Private Fosse was detached from the regiment and assigned as a Guard with the Army supply wagon train from Chattanooga over the mountains to the Federal supply base at Stevenson, AL and back. By all accounts this 3-week trip was physically challenging and dangerous. Private Fosse was back with the regiment in early November 1863. The siege ended with the victorious charge up Mission Ridge that the 15th took part in on November 25, 1863.

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. Starting in May 1864, the 15th participated in General William T. Sherman's famous campaign to capture Atlanta, GA. This campaign was marked by almost daily marching and/or combat for 4 months. Private Fosse and the 15th took part in the fighting at Rocky Face Ridge, GA in early May; the bloody Battle of Resaca, GA on May 14-15; and the disastrous Battle of Pickett's Mill (often called Dallas or New Hope Church), GA, on May 27, 1864. It was there that the 15th suffered fearful casualties, one of which was Private Stephen Fosse's brother, Wagoner Ole L. Fosse, who was seriously wounded in both legs.

Private Stephen Fosse and the 15th also took part in the fighting at Kenesaw Mountain, GA, on June 23, and at Atlanta on July 22, 1864. Starting August 18, 1864, Private Fosse was recorded as being "detached" from the regiment and assigned to the headquarters of the brigade that the 15th was part of. It is not clear how long he served at brigade headquarters. The 15th and the rest of the brigade fought at Jonesboro, GA on September 1, and at Lovejoy Station, GA on September 4, 1864. After a rest following the capture of Atlanta, the brigade was sent to Chattanooga at the beginning of October 1864, where the 15th was briefly assigned to Provost (police) duty. The 15th then spent the remainder of its existence guarding a railroad bridge at Whitesides, TN, near Chattanooga. Some of the 15th's soldiers felt this was the easiest duty of their entire war service.

Private Stephen Fosse was once again with Company H on February 13, 1865, at Chattanooga. On that date he, his brother Wagoner Ole Fosse, and most of the other surviving members of the company were mustered out of Federal service upon the end of their 3-year terms of service. At the time the Army noted that Private Stephen Fosse was due $100 in bounty money.

After the war, Fosse married Emma G. Anderson on May 8, 1873. Stephen Fosse and his wife Emma had one son, Andrew Louis, born May 11, 1874. He became a farmer at Koshkonong. He died in Dane County, WI on December 5, 1886.

Buslett's 1895 history of the 15th says this about Stephen, Andrew, and Ole Fosse:

"They were three cheerful and brave brothers."

 

Sources: Genealogical data provided by Patty Fosse; 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); Cook County, IL, Marriage Index, 1871-1920, film # 1030082; Civil War Pension Index, Roll #T288_158; WI Deaths, 1820-1907, Vol.1, p.187, Reel 14, Image 1091.

 


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