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Syvert A. Anderson

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry
The Scandinavian Regiment
Syvert A. Anderson Profile Image
Image believed to have been taken post-Civil War.
Photo courtesy of Lac Qui Parle County Historical Society via Ronald Pearson.

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Name at Enlist

Syvert A. Anderson

Birth Name

Sjur Andersen Hanekamb

Other Names

Severt, Sever, Seaver, Syvert Allrek


2 Jul 1842 – 24 Dec 1938

Birth Place

Hanekamb, Arnefjord, Vik, Sogn og Fjordane

Birth Country


Resident of Muster-In

Cambridge, Dane County, WI

Company at Enlistment


Rank at Enlistment


Muster Date

16 Nov 1861

Death Location

Cove, Union County, OR

Burial Location

Dawson Cemetery, Dawson, Lac Qui Parle County, MN


Brita Sjursdatter Lillesand

Mother Lived



Anders Halvorsen Hanekamb

Father Lived





Isabelle Severs (Ingeborg Thorsdatter Lillesand)

Spouse Lived

8 Jan 1842-11 May 1922

Married On

1 Mar 1865

Marriage Location

Whitewater, Walworth County, WI

Sjur Andersen was born at Hanekamb, Arnafjord parish, Vik, Sogn og Fjordane, and left the parish April 14, 1856, with his parents and siblings. He enlisted under the name Syvert A. Anderson by Ole C. Johnson on October 22, 1861. His older brother, Halvor Andersen, had joined the company one week earlier. The men of Company B called themselves the “Wergeland Guards” in honor of Henrik Wergeland, the famous Norwegian writer and poet. Syvert was mustered into Federal service at the rank of Private (Menig) for a three-year term of service on November 16, 1861, at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI. At the time, he was 19 years old and not married. His residence was listed as Cambridge, Dane County, WI.

On January 14, 1862, the men of the 15th were issued Belgian rifle muskets. After nearly 15 weeks at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Private Anderson left there in early March 1862, with his brother, company, and regiment to join the war. It is believed that he was present at the siege of Island No. 10, Tennessee, and the raid on Union City, TN, in April 1862. He was also possibly at the regiment’s campaign through the states of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama that summer. It is believed that in August and September he was on the grueling 400-mile retreat with General Buell up to Louisville, KY, the last two weeks of which were on half rations and little water. He is known to have been at the October 8, 1862, Battle of Perryville, KY, which is also called the Battle of Chaplin Hills. In a post-war sworn affidavit, 2nd Lieutenant Ole P. Olson of Company B recounted this about Private Anderson’s actions at the battle:

“When the Captain called for volunteers to go down toward the line of the enemy for some water, Syvert A. Anderson was the only one to step up. He went and got the water and also captured a rebel prisoner and brought him back as well as the water.”

On December 26, 1862, Private Anderson took part in the 15th’s desperate charge upon a Confederate artillery battery at Knob Gap, TN, just south of Nashville. Lieutenant Olson recorded this about what happened:

“The enemy had a battery on top of the Knob that was shelling us pretty lively. We advanced through the muddy field, mud ankle deep. We got to the foot of the Knob — Knob very steep and hard to get up in the mud to the top where the battery was. Syvert A. Anderson, then being a spry, strong and brave soldier, started up in advance of the main line as he saw it was at this moment to dare, do or die, to prevent the enemy from getting away with the cannon. He gained the top in the face of the enemy, demanded a surrender and accomplished it. Cannon, caisson, seven prisoners and five horses were capture by him. If Syvert A. Anderson had not acted so bravely and advanced ahead of the main line of skirmishers, the enemy would have had time to get away with the cannon before the main line came up.”

From December 30-31, 1863, Private Anderson fought in the long, cold, wet, and bloody Battle of Stones River, TN, which is also known as the Battle of Murfreesboro. It is there that the 15th first suffered serious battle casualties, and Anderson was cited for bravery. On December 31st Private Anderson suffered a severe gunshot wound to his left foot. He was then captured and briefly held by the Confederates before being paroled to Union forces. However, according to Lieutenant Olson, Private Anderson was “left on the battlefield until January 6th, 1863…” In either case, he was next listed as a patient in an Army hospital in Nashville. Later, he was moved to a hospital in Louisville, KY. On September 18, 1863, Private Anderson was honorably discharged from the Army due to physical disabilities resulting from his wound. A veteran named Syvert A. Anderson, living in Minneapolis, MN, in February 1882 was granted a pension of $4 a month because of a gunshot wound to his left foot.

After his discharge, Syvert Anderson returned to Wisconsin. A year and a half later, he married his maternal cousin and lived for a time in Whitewater, Walworth County, WI. After the war ended, they moved to Rochester, MN, and then homesteaded in Baxter Township, Lac Qui Parle County, MN, starting in 1871. They had at least six children: Samuel (1866-1949), Lilla Hannah (1867-bet 1830/1840), Thomas (1869-?), Bunyan Edward (1872-1924), Haven Martin (1879-?), and Logan Elsworth (1884-1969). There, Syvert served as a County Commissioner and became the first commander of the Cassius Fairchild Post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). He died in Oregon and is buried in Dawson Cemetery, Dawson, Lac qui Parle County, MN.

Syvert wrote the following in a May 28, 1923, letter to his “dear and faithful comrade” Erick N. Barsness of Company B:

“I have been sick for a long time this spring. I did not know but my time was up, and I had to answer to the last roll call. I am so weak yet, and so shaky I can hardly write so you can understand it. I lost my dear and good wife a year ago. So the time has been a lonesome time to me since.”

In 1926, Lieutenant Olson recommended Syvert for the Medal of Honor for his actions at Knob Gap. It is not known what became of this recommendation. Twelve years later at the time of his death at age 96, Syvert A. Anderson was said to be the last living Civil War veteran in Lac Qui Parle County. He is also believed to have been the last living member of the 15th WI.


Sources:  Det Femtende Regiment, Wisconsin Frivillige [The Fifteenth Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers], Ole A. Buslett, 1894, B. Anundsen, Decorah, IA; Regimental Descriptive Rolls, Volume 20, Office of Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1885); 1880 Census, Roll: 624, Family History Film: 1254624, Page: 136A, Enumeration District: 126, Image: 0592; 1900 Census, Roll: 772, Page: 1A, Enumeration District: 0118, FHL microfilm: 1240772; 1920 Census, Roll: T625_842, Page: 3B, Enumeration District: 86, Image: 687,;; Genealogical data provided by Loran Anderson, Dee Grimsrud, Ronald Pearson, Barbara Swedenburg, and Tove D. Johansen; Pope County Tribune newspaper (Glenwood, Minnesota, Nov. 1, 1973); “Norwegian Immigrants 1850 and later”, database, NAGCNL, #38999.