Thor P. Sloan
Database Record Change Request
|Name at Enlist|
Thor P. Sloan
20 May 1834 – 28 Jun 1864
|Resident of Muster-In|
Buchanan, La Crosse County, WI
|Company at Enlistment|
|Rank at Enlistment|
11 Dec 1861
|Cause of Death|
Died from war wounds
Big Shanty, GA
Poul Thorsen Slaaen
Thor P. Sloan was born on May 20, 1834 in Kvinkne, Oppland, Norway. His parents were Poul Thorsen Slaaen and Kari Svensdatter.
He was enlisted in Company E of the 15th WI by Captain John A. Ingmundson at La Crosse, La Crosse County, WI, on December 11, 1861 for a 3-year term of service. The men of the company called themselves “Odin’s Rifles.” Thor was appointed to the rank of Sergeant (Sersjant) in Company E on December 11, 1861. He was then mustered into Federal service at that rank on December 20, 1861, at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI. At the time he was 28 years old and his residence was listed as Buchanan, La Crosse County, WI.
On January 14, 1862, the men of Company E were issued Belgian rifle muskets. On March 2, 1862, after nearly 3 months at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Sergeant Sloan left there in early March 1862 with his company and regiment to join the war. From then until July 1863, he 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. That summer he would have been with the 15th on the campaign through 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.
Sergeant Sloan would have also 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 first big battle for the 15th, it emerged without any fatalities. On December 26, 1862, Sergeant Sloan took part 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 then fought in the long, cold, wet, and bloody Battle of Stones River, TN, also called the Battle of Murfreesboro, at the end of December 1862 and the beginning of January 1863. It is there that the 15th first suffered serious battle casualties, and was cited for bravery. It is said that Sergeant Sloan was taken prisoner during the battle, but managed to quickly escape. The following is from a letter dated January 12, 1863, that he wrote to his comrade Osten Rulland:
“Oh, what a life and existence and what periods and hardships we have to endure during storms and bad weather, both day and night. In addition, many suffer from poor food and lack of support. I can truthfully say that I would care neither about profit nor anything else if I could get out of the military safe and sound. But this is, of course, nothing to discuss here since one has to do his duty. I also want to tell you that we have had a very sorrowful Christmas. I am healthy, thank God, and ought to be satisfied, but we have still suffered a great deal and have seen human bodies blown apart and disfigured. It is all the fault of the big politicians.
During the period December 26, 1862, to January 4, 1863, we were under fire lying with rifle in hand and often eating simple rations. Storms and bad weather prevailed the entire time. We participated in the Battle of Knob Gap by Notensville [sic] and later at Murfreesboro. We were lucky at Knob Gap, for we did not have any casualties, but Murfreesboro was a different story. There the enemy stormed toward us by the thousands and showered us with bullets like we were in a hailstorm. It was a miracle of God that we all were not shot down or taken prisoner…
We lost our captain, and our lieutenant was wounded as were eleven men from our company…Altogether we [the 15th]had considerable casualties – fifteen dead, seventy wounded, and thirty-four missing – a total of 119 men. In addition, some of the wounded died later. We all fear another attack again.”
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. On May 1, 1863, Sergeant Sloan was appointed to the rank of 1st Sergeant of Company E. Starting June 23, 1863, the regiment took part in General Rosecrans’ Tullahoma campaign. On July 1, 1863, 1st Sergeant Sloan was assigned as a Clerk in the headquarters of Heg’s Brigade (3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 20th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland) by order of the brigade commander Colonel Hans C. Heg. It is said that 1st Sergeant Sloan was an intelligent man who had beautiful handwriting. On July 3, 1863, the brigade, which the 15th was part of, went into camp at Winchester, Franklin County, TN, for 6 weeks.
On August 17, 1863, the brigade left Winchester to participate in General Rosecrans’ Chickamauga campaign. Sergeant Sloan 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 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 brigade around midday on the 20th during Longstreet’s Breakthrough. Some 57% of the brigade’s soldiers who were at Chickamauga were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner, as were 63% of the 15th.
1st Sergeant Sloan would have then been in Chattanooga, TN, during the Confederate siege, which began right after the battle. The siege caused severe shortages of medicine, food, and firewood. 1st Sergeant Sloan was again listed as “present” with the regiment starting on October 31, 1863, but was then detached again beginning November 18, 1863, this time to go on recruiting duty in WI. As such he missed taking part with the 15th in the November 25, 1863, attack on Mission Ridge, which ended the siege and sent the Confederate Army fleeing south. 1st Sergeant Sloan was next recorded as being “present” in Madison, WI, in December 1863.
1st Sergeant Sloan returned to the regiment in March or April 1864. He was commissioned as the 1st Lieutenant (Løytnant) of Company E by the Governor of WI on April 4, 1864. Lieutenant Sloan then served with the 15th on Major 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. Lieutenant Sloan 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. There the 15th suffered 50% casualties, including some 25 men who were captured, most of whom ended up in the notorious Andersonville Prison Camp.
On June 21, 1864, the regiment fought at Kenesaw Mountain, GA, where Sloan was “wounded in the head.” It is said that he was struck by an artillery shell fragment while making coffee over a campfire with 1st Lieutenants Nils J. Gilbert of Company A and Thor Simonson of Company F.
1st Lieutenant Sloan subsequently died of his wound in an Army hospital at Big Shanty, GA on June 28, 1864. He died before being officially mustered into the Army at the rank of 1st Lieutenant. In the Army’s final statement on 1st Sergeant Sloan he is described as having been born in Norway, standing 5 feet, 8 inches tall, with a light complexion, blue eyes, and dark hair, and being a farmer by occupation. Buslett’s 1895 history of the 15th WI says this about him:
“He was a quiet, honest, and conscientious man.”
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, IA, 1894); Oberst Heg og hans gutter [Colonel Heg and His Boys], Waldemar Ager (Eau Claire, WI, 1916); Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Volume I, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, WI, 1886); familysearch.org, Norway Baptisms, 1634-1927; blog at http://nordicblue.blogspot.com/2012/10/solving-case-of-missing-civil-war.html; genealogical data provided by The Westby Area Historical Society, Ellen Pederson; Coon Valley, Hjalmer R. Holand (Minneapolis, MN, 1928);