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John Gulbrandsen

15th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry
The Scandinavian Regiment
John  Gulbrandsen Profile Image
Image is believed to have been taken circa 1902. John is wearing a Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) medal.
Photograph provided courtesy of John's great grandson, Ron Volden.

Database Record Change Request

Name at Enlist

John Gulbrandsen

Birth Name


Other Names

John Gilbertson


9 Mar 1829 – 20 Mar 1912

Birth Place

Sandsvær parish, Buskerud

Birth Country


Resident of Muster-In

New Lisbon, Juneau County, WI

Company at Enlistment


Rank at Enlistment


Muster Date

8 Dec 1861

Death Location

near Audubon, Becker County, MN

Burial Location

First Lutheran Church Cemetery, Audubon, Becker County, MN


Anne Marie Andersdtr Sunde

Mother Lived



Gulbrand Halvorsen

Father Lived

1773- ca. 1835




Adeline Nelson

Spouse Lived

1852- 1925

Married On

22 Jul 1872

Marriage Location

Lewiston, Columbia County, WI

John Gulbrandsen was enlisted in Company D of the 15th WI by Captain Charles Campbell on October 28, 1861 for a 3-year term of service. The men of the company called themselves the “Norway Wolf Hunters,” but were also called the “Waupun Company” because so many of its members were from Waupun. John was mustered into Federal service at the rank of Private (Menig) on December 8, 1861 at Camp Randall near Madison, Dane County, WI. At the time the Army recorded him as being 31 years old and not married. His residence was recorded as New Lisbon, Juneau County, WI.

On January 14, 1862, the men of the 15th WI were issued Belgian rifled muskets. After nearly 3 months at Camp Randall learning to be a soldier, Private Gulbrandsen left there on March 2, 1862 with his company and regiment to join the war. From then until December 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, he left Island No. 10 with the 15th to go on campaign through TN, MS, and AL. In August and September he would have participated in the 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.

Private Gulbrandsen would have 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 15th’s first big battle, it emerged without any fatalities. From December 26, 1862 until sometime between April 11 and April 30, 1863, he was listed as “Left sick…in convalescent camp… [of the] 1st Division…at Nashville…” TN.

As such Private Gulbrandsen did not participated in the 15th’s desperate charge upon a Confederate artillery battery at Knob Gap, TN just south of Nashville on December 26, 1862. There the 15th captured a brass cannon. He also did not fight 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, Williamson County, TN. Private Gulbrandsen was once again listed as “present” with the 15th from April until October 1863. 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 Gulbrandsen 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 was apparently wounded in action during the vicious fighting around Viniard’s Farm on the first afternoon as the battle and “was sent sick to the camp hospital from the battlefield.” Some 63% of the 15th’s soldiers who were at Chickamauga were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.

Private Gulbrandsen apparently received medical care with the 15th during the first month of the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, TN which began right after the battle of Chickamauga. 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 24, 1863, Private Gulbrandsen was listed as “absent…sent to General Hosptl at Chattanooga…” While he was there, 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.

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 Gulbrandsen was listed as “absent” during this period. He returned to the regiment sometime in March or April 1864 and was then “present” with it until February 1865.

Starting in May 1864, Private Gulbrandsen and the 15th participated in the famous campaign led by U.S. Major General William T. Sherman to capture Atlanta, GA. This campaign was marked by almost daily marching and/or combat for 4 months. 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 29 soldiers who were captured. Most of them ended up dying of malnutrition-related disease in the infamous Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, GA.

The 15th and Private Gulbrandsen also took part in the fighting at Kenesaw Mountain, GA on June 23; Atlanta on July 22; Jonesboro, GA on September 1; and Lovejoy Station, GA on September 4, 1864. After a rest following the capture of Atlanta in early September 1864, the 15th was briefly assigned to Provost (police) duty in Chattanooga at the beginning of October 1864. This was followed by several months of guarding a railroad bridge at Whitesides, TN, near Chattanooga. Some of the 15th’s soldiers felt that this was the easiest duty of their war service.

Private Gulbrandsen was mustered out of Federal service along with most of the other surviving members of his company on February 13, 1865 at Chattanooga, TN upon the end of their 3-year terms of service. At muster out the Army noted that he had drawn $44.81 worth of government clothing since June 30, 1863, had not been paid since August 31, 1864, and was due $100 in enlistment bounty money. The men of Company D were then paid off and sent by railroad to WI, where they were released to their homes.

John Gulbrandsen remained in WI until shortly after his marriage in 1872, when he and his wife Adeline moved to Becker County, MN. There they settled on land 2 miles west of Audubon. A small lake just west of their farm was named Gilbertson Lake (at some point after arriving in MN, John changed his last name to Gilbertson). John and Adeline had 7 children at that farm: Gilbert, born June 24, 1873; Alfred, born November 5, 1874; Edwin J., birth date unknown, died in infancy; Mary, born November 1876; Anne Henrietta, born 1877 and died in infancy; Henry, born June 1886; and Edwin, born October 29, 1890, when his father was 60 years old.

John Gulbrandsen passed away at his farm home just after his 83rd birthday.


Sources: Genealogical data from John Gulbrandsen’s Great Grandson Ron Volden; 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, 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).