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Ole J. Jenson

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry
The Scandinavian Regiment

Database Record Change Request

Name at Enlist

Ole J. Jenson

Birth Name

ca. 1835 – 2 Jan 1864

Birth Place

Lærdal, Sogn og Fjordane

Birth Country


Resident of Muster-In

Albert Lea, Freeborn County, MN

Company at Enlistment


Rank at Enlistment


Muster Date

11 Feb 1862

Cause of Death

chronic diarrhea

Death Location

Chattanooga, Hamilton County, TN

Ole Jenson was enlisted in Company K of the 15th WI by Lieutenant Ole Peterson in Freeborn County, MN on January 18, 1862 for a 3-year term of service. The men of Company K called themselves “Clausen’s Guards” after the 15th’s first Chaplain, Claus Lauritz Clausen, a Dane.

Ole was mustered into Federal service at the rank of Private (Menig) on February 11, 1862 at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI. At the time the army recorded him as being 26 years old and not married. His residence was listed as Freeborn County, MN.

After only a few weeks at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Private Jenson left there on March 2, 1862 with his company and regiment to join the war. From then until November 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 during March and early April 1862, as well as on the surprise raid on Confederate Cavalry forces at Union City, TN near the end of March 1862.

After the surrender of Island No. 10 on April 7, 1862, Companies A, F, H, I, and K were sent to occupy the island and Captain Andrew Torkildson was placed in command of this battalion. There was much hard, physical work to be done on the island, and quickly. The slave-built fortifications contained many cannons, which the Confederates had had installed to defend against a Union attack coming down the Mississippi River from the north. These had to be moved and the fortifications changed so they could be used to defend the island against a possible Confederate assault coming up the river from the south. This task was made even more difficult due to the unhealthy nature of the island, and with problems getting an adequate supply of rations. These conditions caused many complaints, sickness, and even death amongst the soldiers there.

Starting June 11, 1862, Private Jenson departed Island No. 10 by steamboat with his company to take part with the 15th in a summer campaign through TN, MS, and AL. Starting on July 3, 1862, he was assigned “extra duty as Teamster,” meaning he drove a horse or mule-pulled wagon. In August and September he would have participated in the grueling 400-mile forced march retreat from AL up to Louisville, KY. The last few weeks of the retreat, led by U.S. Major General Don Carlos Buell, were conducted on half rations and with very little drinking water.

As a Teamster, Private Jenson would have been present at, but not likely to have taken part in, the fighting on October 8, 1862 at Perryville, Boyle County, KY, which was also called the Battle of Chaplin Hills. While this was the first time the 15th took part in a big battle, it emerged without any fatalities.

As a Teamster, Private Jenson would probably not 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 and some prisoners. It is also unlikely that Private Jenson fought with the 15th at the long, cold, wet, and bloody fighting at Stone River, TN, also called the Battle of Murfreesboro, on December 30-31, 1862. It was there that the regiment first suffered serious battle casualties and was cited for bravery. Private Jenson may have seen some fighting during that period when Confederate Cavalry attacked the Union wagon trains.

The 15th camped in the Murfreesboro area for the next 6 months, except for 2 weeks in February when it was sent to Franklin, Williamson County, TN. In March, April, May, and June 1863, Jenson’s rank is listed as “Wagoner,” but beginning in July 1863, he was once again listed as a Private (Menig) and was probably back again serving in the ranks of Company K. Starting June 23, 1863, the regiment took part in the Tullahoma campaign led by U.S. Major General William S. Rosecrans. On July 3, 1863, the 15th went into camp at Winchester, Franklin County, TN, for 6 weeks.

On August 17, 1863, the 15th departed Winchester to take part in what later became known as the Chickamauga campaign led by U.S. Major General William S. Rosecrans. Private Jenson 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 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.

Private Jenson would have then served with the regiment during the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, TN, which began 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. One of those taken ill was Private Jenson. The Confederate siege was finally broken by the Union Army’s victorious charge up Mission Ridge on November 25, 1863, which the 15th took part in. It is unclear if Private Jenson participated in the attack because starting November 28, 1863, he was listed as having been “Left sick at Chattanooga” when the 15th departed there that day. That was the last day he ever served with the 15th.

Private Jenson was next listed by the army as having died of “Chronic Diarrhea” on January 2, 1864 at the hospital of the 2nd Division of the 4th Army Corps in Chattanooga. The Army discharge record for Private Jenson described him as having been born in Norway, standing 5 feet 9 inches tall, having a “light complexion, blue eyes, and light hair,” and as having been a farmer before enlisting.


Sources: Civil War Compiled Military Service Records, Office of Adjutant General of the United States (Washington, DC); Ole A. Buslett, Det Femtende Regiment, Wisconsin Frivillige [The Fifteenth Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers] (Decorah, Iowa, 1894); 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).