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Peter Urness

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry
The Scandinavian Regiment

Database Record Change Request

Name at Enlist

Peter Urness

Birth Name

Peder Johannesen Kroken

Other Names



15 Sep 1842 – 19 Oct 1862

Birth Place

Urnæs, Sogn

Birth Country


Resident of Muster-In

Black Earth, Dane County, WI

Company at Enlistment


Rank at Enlistment


Muster Date

31 Jan 1862

Cause of Death


Death Location

U.S. military hospital, Bowling Green, Warren County, KY

Burial Location

Grave N 10445, National Cemetery, Nashville, TN


Kari Pedersdatter Sandvig

Mother Lived



Johannes Olsen Kinesdal

Father Lived




Peter Urness was enlisted in the 15th WI by Captain Ole C. Johnson for 3-years service in Company B. The men of the company called themselves the “Wergeland Guards” in honor of the famous Norwegian writer and poet Henrik Wergeland. He enlisted for three years on January 29, 1862 at Madison, WI and mustered there on January 31, 1862 as a Private (Menig). At the time, the army listed him as being 18 years old and not married. His residence was recorded as Black Earth, Dane County, WI.

Peter’s brother, Anders Urness, had previously joined the same company, and his brother, Ole Urness, would join some 2 years later. The Urness brothers were one 3 sets of 3 brothers who served in the 15th.

After a month at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Private Urness left there on March 2, 1862 with his company and regiment to join the war. From then until September 1862, he is believed to have been “present” with the 15th. As such he would have participated in the successful siege of Island No. 10 on the Mississippi River in TN during March and early April 1862 and on the surprise raid on Confederate forces at Union City, TN in late March 1862.

From early April until early June 1862, Private Urness helped to occupy and reconstruct the fortifications at Island No. 10. Starting June 11, 1862, he and his company would have left there by steamboat to take part with the 15th on campaign through TN, MS, and AL. In August and September he participated in the grueling 400-mile retreat with U.S. Major General Don Carlos Buell from AL up to Louisville, KY, with the last 2 weeks being on half rations and short of water.

At some point during the retreat Private Urness became ill. On September 17, 1862, he and several other 15th soldiers were left behind to recuperate at a military hospital in Bowling Green, Warren County, KY. Unfortunately, he succumbed to “disease” a month later. The following description of his passing is attributed to “a Veteran” and is drawn from Ager’s 1916 history of the 15th WI:

“…this little [Peter] Urness fellow was always regarded by all of us as a kind of pet. His winning nature made him beloved by all. He had the habit of washing his feet every day. One day, when he sat by the fire washing, he said to me that he did not have long to live. I laughed at him and said that was only his imagination, which I believed. But I had to help him to bed, which we never had to do before, and at his request I removed from under his pillow a portfolio with some letters and a photograph of his sister. These objects I promised to give to his brother Anders, which I also did later, along with his brotherly greetings. He called the nurse and asked her to call all the Norwegians to his bedside, which was also done. When they came he could no longer see; but he called us by name and asked us to come closer. Then he took each of us by the hand and thanked us for the love we had shown him. When he had said goodbye to all, he folded his hands on his chest and recited the Lord’s Prayer clearly for us all.. We stood around his bed and thought he must have tired himself, that he had fallen asleep. But to our great astonishment, he was dead. I have seen many die and dying; but never have I seen anyone die so peacefully and it seemed as painlessly as he.”

The body of Peter Urness was initially buried at Bowling Green. However, at some point (probably after the war) he and the other Union soldiers buried there were dug up, moved to Nashville, TN, and re-buried in the national cemetery.

Sources:  Oberst Heg og hans gutter, Waldemar Ager (Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 1916); Ole A. Buslett, Det Femtende Regiment, Wisconsin Frivillige [The Fifteenth Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers] (Decorah, Iowa, 1894) Regimental Muster and Descriptive Rolls, 1861-1865, Vol.20, Wisconsin Adjutant General’s Office (Madison, Wisconsin, 1885); and, 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 Darlene & Harland Hanson; Hafslo parish register #A5, born and baptised, p. 64, #A18, out-migrated, p.57,