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Casper Simonson

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry
The Scandinavian Regiment

Database Record Change Request

Name at Enlist

Casper Simonson

Birth Name
Other Names

Casper Sandel Simonson


18 Feb 1839 – 08 May 1888

Birth Place

Hammershaug-eie, Vestre Gausdal, Oppland

Birth Country


Resident of Muster-In

Scandinavia, Waupaca County, WI

Company at Enlistment


Rank at Enlistment


Muster Date

20 Dec 1861

Death Location

Coon, Vernon County, WI

Burial Location

Upper Coon Valley Cemetery, Vernon County, WI


Kari Olsdatter Hammershaug-eie

Mother Lived



Simen Olsen Nygaardslien

Father Lived





Anne Pederson

Spouse Lived


Married On

27 Dec 1866

Marriage Location

Coon, Vernon County, WI

2nd Spouse

Christine Nordrum or Iverson

2nd Spouse Lived


2nd Marriage Date

23 Apr 1881

2nd Marriage Location

Coon, Vernon County, WI

Casper Simonsen enlisted under Captain August Gasman in Company I of the 15th WI. He joined on November 9, 1861 at Scandinavia, Waupaca County, WI for a 3-year term of service. The men of Company I called themselves the “Scandinavian Mountaineers.”

Casper received his uniform and was mustered into Federal service at the rank of Private (Menig) on December 20, 1861 at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI. At the time he was recorded as having blue eyes, light colored hair and complexion, and being 6 feet tall, 21 years old, and married. His residence was listed as Scandinavia, WI.

On January 14, 1862, the men of the 15th WI were issued Belgian rifled muskets. After nearly 10 weeks at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Private Simonsen left there on March 2, 1862 with his company and regiment to journey south to join the war.

From the beginning of March until June 1863, Private Simonsen was listed as “present” with the 15th. As such he would have 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. In June when 8 companies of the regiment left Island No. 10, he remained behind with Companies I and G on extended guard duty. These 2 companies would not rejoin the rest of the regiment for 15 months. During that time the other 8 companies participated in several campaigns as well as big battles at Perryville, KY; Murfreesboro (Stone River), TN; and Chickamauga, GA.

Initially Companies G and I were camped across from Island No. 10 on the TN side at what was called New Madrid Bend. There they engaged in capturing Confederate soldiers who had escaped when the island was captured, and hunting down, sometimes on horseback, local groups of rebel guerrillas who were resisting the Union occupation. The area around Island No. 10 was considered to be unhealthy and many of the 15th soldiers became ill there, with several dying of disease. According to official records Private Simonsen suffered a rupture “…while in the line of duty at Island No. 10 Miss. River June 1862.”

In early October 1862, the Union camp at New Madrid bend, which consisted of 150 men, was attacked just before dawn by 300 Confederate Cavalry. The rebel attack was poorly managed and quickly repulsed with virtually no loss of life, but afterwards Company G and I were moved over to Island No. 10. A drawing of the 15th’s camp on the island can be viewed by clicking Michael Thompson:

“Dec. 1st, we had orders to set up some cannons on the top of the highest point of the island but the 25th we had orders to nail up [spike to make unusable] and destroy the cannons. Everyone was furious about this and decided not to obey orders. After 3 times of disobedience we were all ordered to get up in the middle of the night the 27th to go and nail up all the cannons. We were about 80 men. The next morning we had to destroy wagons and gun powder. Many ugly words were said by almost every man and then soon the coward [General Thomas E.] Davis [who had ordered these things destroyed] was fired from his command of the District.”

The 15th soldiers managed to save a great deal of the ammunition and destroy the cannons in such a way that they could still be repaired, though for 3 days afterward the island was almost completely defenseless. Once U.S. Major General U. S. Grant heard of these strange orders he relieved General Davies of command and life returned to normal at the island. That summer Corporal Thompson recorded in his diary how the garrison celebrated Independence Day:

“July 4th, 1863, we spent in a very nice way. The officers had beforehand made a collection of money to buy the needed stuff for a dinner. At 10 a.m. the troops gathered (sailors and soldiers) with weapons at the celebration place they presented arms to honor the American flag. After this ceremony we went inside and Captain J. Gordon [John A. Gordon of Co. G] (Command[er of the] Post) stood up and introduced Chaplain Thommas who said a prayer and read the Declaration of Independence. Capt. Gordon stood up and said that Capt. W.A. Montgomery [of Co. I] would be the speaker of the day and he stood up and presented a good speech. Thereafter 3 gunshots were fired in honor of him and we gave 3 hurrahs. At 3 p.m. we found the table set with an outstanding good dinner which everyone took part in and enjoyed. [That morning at sunrise we had] …fire from the gunboats, at noon from the land batteries, and in the afternoon from the gunboats again. In the afternoon we were also going to have dancing but due to a lack of women it didn’t happen.”

On August 19, 1863, Companies G and I exchanged their old Belgian weapons for new British Enfield .58 caliber rifled muskets. Sometime that summer Private Simonsen fell ill and starting August 24, 1863, he was granted a 30-day leave of absence to recuperate at home in WI. On September 2, 1863, Companies I and G were ordered to rejoin the rest of the 15th. After a 3-week trip by steamboat, railroad train, and on foot they were reunited with the remnants of the regiment on the morning after the September 19-20, 1863 fighting at Chickamauga, GA — the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Some 63% of the 15th’s soldiers who were at Chickamauga had been killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. In fact the 2 companies from Island No. 10 together had more men in their ranks than answered roll call that morning in all the other 8 companies combined.

At the end of his 30-day leave Private Simonsen did not rejoin his company, so on September 24, 1863 he was temporarily listed as absent without leave. Where he was and what he was doing at that time is not clear from the official records, but the military situation in TN was chaotic after the defeat at Chickamauga and subsequent Federal retreat into Chattanooga, TN, where the Confederate Army laid siege to the surviving US forces, which included the 15th. Fortunately an 1888 affidavit by one of Simonsen’s comrades, Ole P. Anderson, sheds some light on his situation during part of that time:

“…about the first of October 1863 I again saw Simonson and talked with him after he had returned, and that he then stated he was not yet quite well but that he would try to go along with it anyway. This was at Stephenson Alabama [site of a big Union Army supply depot] and that a few days after, said Simonson was taken prisoner by [Confederate General Joseph] Wheeler’s Cavalry in the Cumberland Mountains…”

Official records state that Private Simonsen was “Captured by the rebels while on duty as Guard to a supply train on or about Oct. 7, 1863” somewhere in TN (other records list October 4th as his date of capture). It is likely that the supply train was on its way to Chattanooga, where the Confederate siege was beginning to cause severe shortages of food and medicine. By all accounts this trip was physically challenging and very dangerous. It appears that the Confederates quickly paroled (released) Private Simonsen, because he is next listed as being admitted to US Army General Hospital No. 9 at Nashville, TN on October 15, 1863 suffering from a hernia.

Official records next state that Private Simonsen was again “Captured by the Rebels while on duty as a guard to a supply train about Oct. 28th 1863.” And once again it appears the Confederates quickly paroled Private Simonsen, because he is next listed as having been “Admitted to No. 7 General Hospital No. 9 Louisville Ky. Nov 1/63 with Hernia.”

On November 25, 1863, the 15th took part in the Union Army’s victorious charge up Mission Ridge, which broke the siege of Chattanooga and sent the Confederate Army fleeing south. Starting right after this important victory the 15th was engaged in almost non-stop marching and counter-marching all over eastern TN for some 6 weeks. 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 this period nearly unbearable.

Private Simonsen was “Admitted to Genl [General] Hospital Jefferson barracks, St. Louis Mo. Feb’y [February] 15/64 with Pneumonia.” It appears from official records that he was officially exchanged for a Confederate soldier on April 30, 1864. This would have been purely a paper exercise, but it did make Simonsen eligible to return to active duty. On May 25, 1864, the Army transferred Private Simonsen into Company 29 of the 1st Battalion of the “Invalid Corps” because his hernia made him unfit for the rigors of field service. This transfer ended Private Simonsen’s official membership in the 15th WI. Company 29 subsequently became Company 228 and Private Simonsen then served in Company I of the 10th Regiment of the Veterans Reserve Corps (the VRC was the successor to the Invalid Corps).

Starting in May 1864, the 15th took part in the famous campaign to capture Atlanta, GA, which was led by U.S. Major General William T. Sherman. This campaign was marked by almost daily marching and/or combat for 4 months, and included the disastrous May 27, 1864 Battle of Pickett’s Mill (often called Dallas or New Hope Church), GA where the 15th suffered 50% casualties. After the capture of Atlanta in early September the 15th was assigned to guard a railroad bridge at Whitesides, TN, which was considered the unit’s easiest duty during the war.

Private Simonsen was mustered out of the Army on December 20, 1864, at the conclusion of his three-year term of service. Official notice of his transfer to the Invalid Corps and the VRC never reached the 15th, nor did notification of his subsequent muster out. As a result, the 15th recorded Private Simonsen as “Absent sick since Aug. 24/63” when his remaining comrades in Company I were mustered out on February 10, 1865 at Chattanooga.

After returning to WI, Casper purchased 80 acres of land in Coon, Vernon County in April 1865. The next year he married Anne Pederson and over the next 10 years they had 5 children: Mary Inez, born November 11, 1868; Caroline, born June 15, 1870; Simon, born September 29, 1873; Jonette (Nettie), born March 28, 1875; and Pauline (Polly), birth date unknown. Casper’s first wife passed away in 1876. In 1881, he married Christine Nordrum (or Iverson) who had a son, Ingvald Oluf. Casper and his second wife had 4 children together during their 7 year marriage: Arnold, born June 18, 1881; Oscar, born October 23, 1882; Carl, born July 23, 1884; and Conrad, born December 6, 1886.

From 1875-1878, Casper served on Coon School Board and as Clerk of the Nerison School District. In 1876, he became a trustee of the Coon Valley Lutheran Church. From 1878-1879, he served as a Supervisor on the Board of Coon.

Private Simonsen passed away in 1888 at the age of 49.

Sources:  Civil War Compiled Military Service Records, Office of Adjutant General of the United States (Washington, DC); Civil War Pension 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); genealogical data from his great granddaughter Barbara Bardeen Cobb; Michael Thompson’s Civil War Diary, edited by Valerie Saltou Heidbroer and Iris Saltou Hemmingson (2000).