Database Record Change Request
|Name at Enlist
17 Apr 1840 – 22 Jun 1864
|Resident of Muster-In
Deerfield, Dane County, WI
|Company at Enlistment
|Rank at Enlistment
16 Nov 1861
|Cause of Death
Grave 248, Section E, National Cemetery, Chattanooga, TN
Anne Thorbjornsdr Eidsvaag
Erick Larsen Eidsvaag was born on April 17, 1840 in Stord, Hordaland, Norway. His parents were Lars Endresen and Anne Thorbjornsdr Eidsvaag.
When the war began, Larsen was enlisted in Company B of the 15th WI by Captain Brown Syvertson, who it is said came to America with him. The men of Company B called themselves the Wergeland Guards after Henrik Wergeland, the famous Norwegian poet and writer. Erick was mustered into Federal service as a Private (Menig) on November 16, 1861 at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI. At the time he was 24 years old and residing in Deerfield, Dane County, WI.
After several months at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Private Larsen left there in early March 1862 with his company and regiment to join the war. From then until October 1863 he was listed as “present.” 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. He would have been present at the October 8, 1862 Battle of Perryville, KY, which is also called the Battle of Chaplin Hills. While this was the first big battle the 15th was in, it emerged without any fatalities. On December 26, 1862, he would 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 would have also fought at the long, cold, wet, and bloody Battle of Stone 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 2 weeks in February when it was sent to Franklin, TN. Starting June 23, 1863, the regiment took part in General Rosecrans’ Tullahoma campaign. On July 3, 1863, it camped at Winchester, TN. Private Larsen was appointed as a Corporal (Korporal) in Company B starting sometime in July or August 1863. On August 17, 1863, the 15th left there to participate in General Rosecrans’ Chickamauga campaign. Corporal Larson 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 Battle of 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 regiment around midday on the 20th during Longstreet’s Breakthrough. Some 63% of the 15th’s soldiers who were at Chickamauga were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.
Corporal Larsen would have then served with the regiment during the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, TN, which began right after the battle. The siege caused severe shortages of food and firewood. On October 13, 1863, Corporal Larsen was detached from his company and assigned as a guard with the Army supply wagon train from Chattanooga, TN over the mountains to the Federal depot at Stevenson, AL. This was by all accounts a physically challenging and dangerous trip. Corporal Larsen was again listed as present with the 15th starting in early November 1863. The Federal troops in and about Chattanooga suffered greatly during the siege. It was not until the Union Army’s victorious charge up nearby Mission Ridge on November 25, 1863, which the 15th took part in, that the siege was finally broken.
Starting right after the victory at Mission Ridge, Corporal Larsen and the 15th were engaged in almost non-stop marching and counter-marching all over eastern TN through much of 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. Corporal Larsen then served with the 15th on part of General 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. It included fighting 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 (often called Dallas or New Hope Church) GA, on May 27, where the 15th suffered fearful casualties. An article in the Norwegian language magazine, Ungdommens Ven, says the following about what happened to Corporal Larsen and his cousin there:
“Brown Severson was hit by a bullet through his jaw, which tore his tongue off and went through his neck and shoulder. Later Erick Larson was hit by a bullet in his head, but he was only slightly wounded. Brown Severson stayed alive for awhile, and he even wrote a letter home, but when he died, Erik followed him shortly after. Erik was said to be “dead from wounds and melancholy.” They were both unmarried.”
According to official Army records, Corporal Larsen was “shot through the head and shoulder” and died of “pynemonia” [sic] less than a month later in the General Field Hospital at Chattanooga — 2 weeks before his cousin passed away. The Army’s Final Statement on Corporal Larsen described him as having been born in Norway, standing 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a light complexion, blue eyes, and light colored hair, and being by occupation a farmer.
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, Iowa, 1895); Ungdommens Ven magazine [Youth’s Friend]; Regimental Descriptive Rolls, Volume 20, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1885); Roster of Wisconsin Volunteers, War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, Volume I, Office of the Adjutant General State of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin, 1886); Norway Digital Archives; Genealogical data by Hans Bruvik.