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Private Lewis Nelson of Company B. Killed in action July 28, 1864, at Bald Knob, Georgia. Image WHi (X3) 30002, State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

The following are the lyrics from songs that are documented as having been sung in the 15th Wisconsin during its service in the American Civil War (1861-1865).

Private Ellend P. Sime of Company H copied down the following lyrics to what he said was “a song, often sung in the 15th Wisconsin Regiment.” The author of the lyrics is not known, nor is the music, but it is believed to have been composed and performed in Norwegian. Bjarne Breilid translated the lyrics into English from VOSSINGEN: Organ for Vosselaget (Madison, Wisconsin, 1920).

Kommer nu venner; Ei længer vi vente.
Frihed vi elske og yndig den er.
Og udi et norsk regiment,
vi samles for friheden, som vi har kjær.Norske vi ere. Navnet vi bære
som tapre soldater paa land og paa vand.
Ja, nu vil vi prøve de norske til ære,
on endu er mod i den nordiske mand.

Farvel vi byde til venner saa kjære
forældre og søskende og hver elsket mand.
Farvel vi byde tilsidst til piger
som i Wisconsin maa blive igjen.

Farvel vi byde til venner saa kjære
forældre og søskende og hver elsket ven.
Vel herlig var tiden hos Eder at være;
men vi haaber dog engang at komme igjen.

Come now, my friends; let’s not wait any longer!
Freedom we love; it’s a beautiful thing,
and now in a regiment, based on Norwegians,
we gather for freedom, so dear to us all.We are Norwegians, a name that we carry,
proudly as soldiers at sea and on land.
It’s time now for testing our courage and honor
to see if we still can live up to our past.

We’re bidding good bye to the friends we are leaving,
To parents and siblings and all loyal friends.
And lastly we’re bidding good bye to the maidens
whom we must leave here in Wisconsin behind.

We’re bidding good bye to the friends we are leaving,
to parents and siblings and all loyal friends.
How happy we were when we all were together.
Our hope is, though, that we will see you again.

The following “Song of the Volunteer Soldiers of the 15th Wisconsin Regiment” is in the collection of the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa. It is based on a Danish song called “Den gang jeg drog af sted” [I Shan’t Forget the Day], the first two verses of which are shown on the left below. The original song was written by Peter Faber and Emil Horneman, and was very popular during the Danish-Prussian War (1848-1850). The lyrics were altered slightly, by parties unknown, to produce the version that was sung by the 15th. The 3 verse Danish language Civil War version is shown below on the left. It was translated to English by John R. Christianson, at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, in 1997. Thanks to David Hovde for submitting the lyrics, and to Svend Ravnkilde, Danish Music Information Center, for providing the music.

Den gang jeg drog af sted,
den gang jeg drog af sted,
min pige ville med,
ja, min pige ville med.
Det kan du ej min ven
jeg gaar i krigen hen
og hvis jeg ikke falder,
kommer jeg nok hjem igen.
Ja, var der ingen fare,
saa blev jeg her hos dig,
men alle Danmarks piger,
de stole ny paa mig,og derfor vil jeg slaas
som tapper landsoldat,
Hurra, hurra, hurra!

Min fader og min mo’er,
Min fader og min mo’er,
de sagde disse ord,
ja, de sagde disse ord;
Naar dem, vi stole paa,
i krigen monne gaa,
hvem skal saa pløje markerne,
og hvem skal græsset slaa?
Ja, det er netop derfor,
vi alle maa af sted,
for ellers kommer tysken
og hjælper os d…ed.

Og derfor vil jeg slaas
som tapper landsoldat.
Hurra, hurra, hurra!

I shan’t forget that day
When first I went away.
Me lassie dear she would not stay,
Of course she would not stay.
You cannot go along,
Through warfare, strife and throng.
But if they don’t kill me, dear,
I shall return with song.
I would, was there no danger, Sis,
as lief remain with thee,
But all the girls of North, you see,
rely just now on me.And therefore I will fight
The rebels left and right,
Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!Our folks at home they thought,
The dear old folks at home,
That all their chaps not ought to leave
For fear they might be caught.
If all our hands go way
The enemy to slay,
Why, who shall plow the corn fields then,
and who shall mow the hay.
Why, there is just the reason, Sis,
why we must all go in,
For else the rebels certainly would come
and do the thing.And therefore I will fight
The rebels left and right,
Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!We’re bound for sunny South,
Ho Hah! for sunny South –
To tell them what’s the truth, and shout
It at the musket’s mouth.
And if they won’t believe
Plain truth, they shall receive
A dose of pill and powder,
which I think will them relieve.
A lesson we will teach them
in cities large and small
Til our beloved Stars and Stripes
are floating over all.And therefore I will fight
The rebels left and right,
Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!

The following ditty was in English in a June 30, 1863, letter written in Norwegian by 1st Sergeant Nils J. Gilbert of Company F. “Old Rosy” refers to U.S. Major General Rosecrans, who was then the commander of the Army of the Cumberland, which the 15th Wisconsin was then part of. The ditty was widely sung in the Army of the Cumberland, and apparently in the 15th too. In addition to the popularity of General Rosecrans, the lyrics illustrate 2 common sentiments that most Union soldiers then professed: that they were fighting to preserve the United States of America as a single country, and not to free the slaves. At the time of Gilbert’s letter, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves in the rebellious states had not yet been published.

Old Rosy is the man;
by him we all will stand by
and fight the rebels ’till we die.
The glorious Union we will restore,
the negroes we do not care anything for.