Ole K. Hanson

Believed to have been taken circa 1867. Shows him wearing Captain's rank and wedding ring.

Wisconsin Historical Society, Iconography, ID 5260

Ole K. Hanson

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

The Scandinavian Regiment

Name at Enlist Ole K. Hanson
Birth Name Ole Knudsen
Patronymic Name Knudsen
Lived 2 Jan 1837 - 18 Dec 1882
Birth Place Tveiten, Seljord, Telemark
Birth Country Norway
Residence at Muster-In Capron, Boone County, IL
Company at Enlistment A
Rank at Enlistment Sergeant
Muster Date 15 Nov 1861
Death Location Cambridge, Furnas County, NE
Burial Location Cambridge Cemetery, Furnas County, NE
Mother Anne Evensdatter Skori
Mother Lived 1794-1885
Father Knud Hanson Tveiten (later Svartdal)
Father Lived 1791-Oct 1849
Immigration 1842
Spouse Anne Jørgine Nilsen
Married On 22 May 1866
Marriage Location Long Prairie Lutheran Church, Boone County, IL

Ole K. Hanson was enlisted by Captain Andrew Torkildson for 3 years service in Company A of the 15th WI on October 15, 1861 in Chicago, Cook County, IL. The men of the company called themselves the "St. Olaf's Rifles." They were also known as the "Sailor Company" because of the large number of seamen in its ranks, and as the "Chicago Company" because so many of its members were residents of that city. Ole was mustered into Federal service as a Sergeant (Sersjant) on November 15, 1861 at Madison, Dane County, WI. He had been living in Capron, Boone County, IL, but listed Madison as his residence. At the time he was 24 years old and not married.

On January 14, 1862, the men of the 15th WI were issued Belgian rifled muskets. After about 15 weeks at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Sergeant Hanson left there in early March 1862, with his company and regiment to join the war. Shortly afterwards Sergeant Hanson became sick and was left in a hospital at Mound City, IL. He was furloughed from the hospital in May 1862 to finish recovering at home. He apparently overstayed his furlough, because he was listed by the 15th as "absent without leave" in June and July 1862.

It is not clear if Sergeant Hanson participated in the grueling 400-mile retreat with General Buell from Florence, AL up to Louisville, KY, with the last 2 weeks being on half rations and short of water. He would have been present at the October 8, 1862 fighting at 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.

On December 26, 1862, Sergeant Hanson would have 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 would have also fought at the long, cold, wet, and bloody Battle of Stone River, TN, also called the Battle of Murfreesboro on December 30-31, 1862. It is there that the 15th first suffered serious battle casualties, and was cited for bravery.

The 15th camped in the Murfreesboro area for the next 6 months, except for 2 weeks in February when it was sent to Franklin, TN. Starting June 23, 1863, the regiment took part in General Rosecrans' Tullahoma campaign. On July 3, 1863, the 15th camped at Winchester, Franklin County, TN. In August 1863, Sergeant Hanson was assigned as wagon master.

On August 17, 1863, the 15th left Winchester to participate in General Rosecrans' Chickamauga campaign. It is not clear if Sergeant Hanson was present at the daring early morning crossing of the Tennessee River on August 28th, which the 15th led. Starting September 16, 1863, he was listed as "absent" with the division (1st Division, 20th Army Corps) wagon train. He was apparently with the wagon train during the September 19-20, 1863 fighting at Chickamauga, GA -- the second bloodiest battle of the war. Some 63% of the 15th's soldiers who were at Chickamauga were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.

Sergeant Hanson 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. The siege of Chattanooga 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. Sergeant Hanson fell ill during this period and was listed as "absent sick" at an Army hospital in Knoxville, TN, starting February 22, 1864.

Sergeant Hanson rejoined in time to take part with the 15th in the famous campaign to capture Atlanta, GA, led by U.S. Major General William T. Sherman. This campaign was marked by almost daily marching and/or combat for 4 months. The 15th and Sergeant Hanson took part in the fighting at Rocky Face Ridge, GA in early May; at the bloody Battle of Resaca, GA on May 14-15; and at the disastrous Battle of Pickett's Mill (often called Dallas or New Hope Church), GA on May 27, 1864. It was at Pickett's Mill that the 15th suffered 50% casualties. And it was there that Sergeant Hanson earned the title "the bravest man in the regiment" when he led the 15th's advance. The following is from Ager's 1917 history of the 15th WI:

"Ole K. Hanson of Company A was wounded five times but could not be induced to retreat. He pushed so far to the front that he was taken prisoner. After that no one heard from him. Evidently he died from his wounds."

Despite his wounds, Sergeant Hanson survived the battle and was sent to the notorious Andersonville Prison Camp in GA, along with two-dozen other 15th soldiers who were captured at Pickett's Mill. Unlike many of those men, Sergeant Hanson also survived the tortures of Andersonville. When Company A mustered out in December 1864 at the end of its 3 year term of service, Sergeant Hanson was listed as "absent prisoner of war." It was not until near the war's end in April 1865, that the Confederates finally released him.

Sergeant Hanson was given an honorable discharge from the Army on November 17, 1865 at Camp Randall. This was some 11 months after his 3 year term of service expired. It is believed he spent the time between release and muster out recovering from his prison ordeal.

After the war Ole returned to Boone County, IL. In 1866 he got married and was awarded an invalid's pension. On March 20, 1867, the 15th's former Lieutenant Colonel Ole C. Johnson recommended to the Governor of WI that Hanson be recognized for his heroism at Pickett's Mill. In April, 1867, Wisconsin Governor Lucius Fairchild, himself a distinguished Civil War veteran, honored Ole C. Hanson with a promotion to the rank of Brevet Captain, to date from his capture on May 27, 1864. His award citation read:

"In recognition of distinguished gallantry displayed by him at the battle of Dallas though wounded five times he refused to leave the field and finally fell into the hands of the enemy he having advanced so far that it was impossible for his regiment to reach and save him."

In 1880, Ole Hanson moved to NE, where he died in 1882 from injuries received when he fell under a wagon. Many of his comrades may never have known that he survived the war. The two primary Norwegian language histories of the 15th, Buslett's published in 1895 and Ager's that was issued nearly a quarter century later, both state that he probably died after being captured.


Sources: Genealogical data from Dee Anna Grimsrud, MLIS, and Hans Brattestå; 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); Civil War Compiled Military Service Records, Office of Adjutant General of the United States (Washington, DC); Register of Commissions by Brevet 1864-1870 (Madison, Wisconsin); 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 1, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1886).

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