Civil War Times

‘I CAN NOW MAKE MY TIME ENDURABLE’

on February 23, 1838, in the Telemark region of Norway and immigrated to the United States when six years old. His family settled in Wisconsin and he was working as a teacher in Stoughton at the outbreakh of the Civil War. On November 12, 1861, the 23-year-old was commissioned a captain, and took command of Company B the following month. His company joined the newly formed 15th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, mustering in in Madison on February 14, 1862, for three years service. He would eventually rise to the rank of colonel and command the 15th. ¶ Composed almost entirely of Norwegian immigrants, the 15th Wisconsin was nicknamed the “Scandinavian Regiment.” While the regiment was passing through Chicago on its way to St. Louis, the Scandinavian “Society Nora” presented it with a silk flag, featuring the U.S. national colors with American and Norwegian arms and the motto “For Gud og Vort Land!”(“For God and Our Country!”) painted on the canton. ¶ They were attached to the Army of the Mississippi until April 1862, during which time they fought at the Battle of Island No. 10. Following the U.S. victory there, they helped garrison the island until the were reassigned to the Army of the Mississippi in July 1862, the to the Army of the Ohio. in September. They became part of Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck’s forces occupying Corinth following its capture, then participated in the Kentucky Campaign, culminating in the Battle of Perryville. ¶ The following letters by Johnson begin immediately after that fight, and continue through the Battle of Chickamauga, where he was captured. The resourceful soldier used his ethnicity to his advantage, writing letters home in his native tongues to beffudle his Confederate guards. He even resorted to chicanery, and penned portions of his letters in invisible ink, instructing recipients as to how to make the writing visible. Johnson’s letters are

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