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Halvor O. Brenden

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry
The Scandinavian Regiment

Database Record Change Request

Name at Enlist

Halvor O. Brenden

Birth Name

21 Mar 1835 – 6 Apr 1912

Birth Place

Storruste farm, Sør-Aurdal, Oppland fylke

Birth Country


Resident of Muster-In

York, Green County, WI

Company at Enlistment


Rank at Enlistment


Muster Date

1 Jan 1862

Death Location

Rock Creek, Mitchell County, IA

Burial Location

Lutheran Cemetery, Rock Creek Township, Mitchell County, IA


Olaug Torgrimsdtr


Ole Halvorsen


early 1850’s


Joran Haugen

Married On

14 Oct 1866

Marriage Location

York Lutheran Church, York Township, Green County, WI

On December 17, 1861, Halvor O. Brenden was enlisted by Captain John A. Ingmundsen in Iowa County, WI in what became Company E of the 15th WI. The men of the company called themselves “Odin’s Rifles”. Halvor was mustered into Federal service at the rank of Private for a 3-year term of service on January 1, 1862, at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI.  At the time he was 27 years old and not married. His residence was listed as York Township, Green County, WI.

On January 14, 1862, the 15th’s soldiers were issued Belgian rifle muskets. After about 2 months at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Private Brenden left there on March 2, 1862, with his company and regiment to join the war. From then until August 1862, 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.

Starting June 11, 1862, Private Brenden would have left Island No. 10 with the 15th to campaign through TN, MS and AL. On August 2, 1862, he was reported as being “sick” in Iuka, MS. According to a post-war affidavit by Private Knud Johnson of Company E, this was because Private Brenden “…from heavy marching in hot weather…contracted chronic diarrhea.”

It is not clear when Private Brenden rejoined the 15th. In August and September the regiment participated in a grueling 400-mile retreat with U.S. Major General Don Carlos Buell up to Louisville, KY, with the last 2 weeks being on half rations and short of water. It is believed that he was present at the October 8, 1862, fighting at Perryville, Boyle County, KY, which was 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, Private Brenden is believed to 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 is also believed to have fought at the long, cold, wet, and bloody Battle of Stones 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 two weeks in February when it was sent to Franklin, TN. Starting June 23, 1863, the regiment took part in U.S. Major General William S. Rosecrans’ Tullahoma campaign. On July 3, 1863, it went into camp at Winchester, Franklin County, TN for 6 weeks.

On August 17, 1863, the 15th left Winchester to participate in General Rosecrans’ Chickamauga campaign. Private Brenden 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. Some 63% of the 15th’s soldiers who were at Chickamauga were killed, wounded or taken prisoner. Private Brenden survived the vicious fighting around Viniard’s Farm on the first afternoon, but was wounded by a shell burst around midday on the 20th near Brotherton Field during what is now called Longstreet’s Breakthrough. The following is from a post-war affidavit by 2nd Lieutenant Peter W. Chantland of Company E.

“…Halvor O. Brenden while in the line of duty, incurred a severe concussion on the head [when] …his musket was shot to pieces while he was aiming and ready to fire…”

It is believed that Private Brenden was transported to a nearby hospital in Chattanooga, TN, which the Confederates laid siege to 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. Starting October 13, 1863, Private Brenden was assigned as a guard with the Army supply wagon train from Chattanooga, over the mountains, to the Federal depot at Stevenson, AL. This was by all accounts a physically challenging and dangerous trip.

Private Brenden was once again back with the 15th near Chattanooga in early November 1863. The Confederate siege was finally broken by the Union Army’s victorious charge up nearby Mission Ridge on November 25, 1863, in which the 15th took part. Afterwards he was listed as being sick in a hospital in Chattanooga starting November 28, 1863. He was then listed as being “sick…when last heard from” at Stevenson, AL in December 1863.

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.

Private Brenden was back with the 15th in time to take part with it in the famous Atlanta Campaign led by U.S. Major General William T. Sherman to capture Atlanta, GA. From its beginning in May 1864, this campaign was marked by almost daily marching and/or combat for 4 months straight. The 15th fought 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, GA (often called Dallas or New Hope Church) on May 27, 1864. There the 15th suffered 50% casualties, one of whom was Private Brenden. He was wounded by a bullet or shell fragment in his “right arm and leg.” Private Brenden was 1 of only 4 members of Company E who survived the fighting at Pickett’s Mill.

After a rest following the capture of Atlanta in early September 1864, the 15th was briefly assigned to Provost (police) duty in Chattanooga, TN, at the beginning of October. This was followed by several months spent guarding a railroad bridge at Whitesides, TN, near Chattanooga. Some of the 15th’s soldiers felt this was the easiest duty of their war service. Private Brenden was honorably mustered out of the Army, along with most of the surviving members of his company, on December 20, 1864 at Chattanooga, TN upon the expiration of his 3-year term of service.

After muster out Halvor Brenden returned to Green County, WI. According to a sworn statement by T. M. Lokke, the brother of Corporal Gulbrand O. Lokke of Company E, Halvor Brenden “…came home from the war, sick…” and:

“…he brought home my brothers watch and some money belonging to him, from the battle of Dallas, or Hope Church, when my brother was killed and Halvor O. Brenden was wounded.”

In 1866, Halvor married Joran Haugen. The next year his first child, Ole, was born. That was followed by the birth of Karina (Carrie) in 1870, Olina (Lena) in 1872, Thonneta (Nettie) in 1875, Christopher in 1878, Henry in 1881, Julia in 1884, Sophia in 1886, and Rangdal in 1888. In 1890, Halvor moved his family to Rock Township, Mitchell County, IA, where he lived the remainder of his days. There, in 1891, his last child, Olga, was born. That same year the U.S. Government granted him an invalid’s pension of $12.00 per month due to deafness and loss of night vision resulting from his military service. After his death, Halvor Brenden’s wife was able to get a $40.00 per month pension as the widow of a disabled veteran.


Sources: Series 1200: Records of Civil War Regiments, 1861-1900, Wisconsin Adjutant General’s Office, box 76-7; Regimental Muster and Descriptive Rolls, 1861-1865, Wisconsin Adjutant General’s Office, vol. 20, p. 72; Det Femtende Regiment, Wisconsin Frivillige [The Fifteenth Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers], Ole A. Buslett, Decorah, IA, 1894, p. 472; Oberst Heg og hans Gutter, Waldemar Ager, 1916, Fremad Publ. Co., Eau Claire, WI, p. 303; Payroll muster rolls of WI 15th Co E, saved by Captain T. A. Rossing; Letter to Minneapolis Norwegian Language Newspaper, 1892, signed A.K.Brenden, Bend Oregon; Utvandrigen til Amerika fra Biri/Snertingdal, Vardal/Gjovik, 1846-1915, Halvard Oudenstad, 1981, Gjovik historielag, Norway, p. 120; Nordmændene i Amerika, Martin Ulvestad, 1907, History Book Co., Minneapolis, MN, p. 273; Eugene Olswold, Rochester, MN; photo; Unidentified family group sheet; Oppland fylke, Sør-Aurdal, Ministerialbok nr. 3 (1825-1840), Fødte og døpte 1835, side 130-131; Oppland fylke, Sør-Aurdal, Klokkerbok nr. 2 (1826-1840), Fødte og døpte [Births and deaths] 1835, side 130-131.