The Swedish Company

Many have heard of the ''Irish Brigade'', but how many know of the ''Swedish Company?'' I speak not of the distant relatives who show up from Europe, but rather the Civil War unit, Company C of the Illinois 43rd Illinois Infantry. It was called the Swedish Company as all but two of the members were Swedish. Many of its members were from Galesburg, and other nearby towns such as Knoxville, Victoria, Bishop Hill, Berwick, and Wataga. Other more distant towns that provided significant numbers of Swedish volunteers for the Company were Andover and Berlin.

In September, 1861, the company was organized at Camp Butler and was mustered into service on October 13, 1861 at Benton Barracks, near Saint Louis. Company C was one of eight companies that comprised the 43rd Illinois Infantry Regiment. The Regiment was ill-equipped at Benton Barracks, being provided with old Harper's Ferry and English Tower muskets, changed from flint locks to percussion guns.

On November 3, the Regiment, including the Swedish Company, was moved by railroad to Tipton, Missouri and then onto Otterville, Missouri on the 4th, also by rail. On December 30-31, the Regiment had its first march- from Otterville back to Tipton. On January 20-21, 1862, the Regiment was moved back by rail to Benton Barracks, where two more companies- I and K, were added to it. Perhaps more importantly, the Regiment was refitted with new Belgian rifles, described to be and excellent weapon, but heavy.

This was apparently in preparation for the Swedish Company and its regiment to be loaded onto the steamer ''Memphis'' to be taken to Fort Henry on the Tennessee River. The Company arrived on February 8, 1862. On the 24th of February, the 43rd Illinois Regiment was assigned to the Third Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General L. F. Ross of McClenands's Division of the Army of West Tennessee. On February 25-26, they marched to Fort Donelson. On March 4, 1862 they were on the march again, to meet up with the steamer ''Eugenie'' on March 7th that would take them to Savannah, arriving on March 12.

On March 22, the 43 Illinois Infantry and its Swedish Company, were loaded upon a steamer to Pittsburg Landing. It sent up camp near the quiet, rural Shiloh Church, along with the other regiments of Ross's Brigade. Their relatively peaceful military life was to end on Sunday morning, April 6th. Colonel Julius Raith, Regiment Commander, hear the sound of battle and had the Regiment assemble, tents taken down, wagon loaded, and the Regiment ''paraded on the color line.''

The battle was heavy and bloody. The 43rd supported the Waterhouse Artillery Battery, loosing 36 of its soldiers in the defense of its first position. The 43rd fell back, taking its next position along Purdy road, with McClernand's Division. At this location, the Regimental Commander, Colonel Raith was wounded, dying on April 11. The 43rd continued to fall back and about 4:30 Generals Grant, Sherman and McClernand came forward to inspect their position. A new line was formed and the battle continued into the next day. At the battle's closure, of the 500 men of the Regiment that went into battle, 206 were lost, of whom 49 had been left dead on the field.

The Swedish Company lost Captain Olof S. Edvall, who died of his wounds on May 7, and Lars O. Berglof and Carl Samuelson. Captain Edvall was from Galesburg. Private Berglof and Private Samuelson were from Andover.

On December 18, 1862, the 43rd and the 61st Illinois, marched from Jackson, on the Lexington road, to the Brooks farm. At this location, they met detachments of cavalry of the 11th Illinois, 5th Ohio, and First West Tennessee. The 43rd Regimental history dutifully reports:

''At daybreak the infantry was drawn back to the woods, on the edge of which Salem cemetery is situated; the 43rd to the right of the road and 61st to the left and in rear of the cemetery. The cavalry was posted on the flanks, and some of the high ground forward, to draw the enemy into the ambush. The enemy first advanced very leisurely, putting his own and the captured artillery into position, in all six pieces, with which they kept up a cross-fire on the Union line for about an hour, from which the Union cavalry, worn out by the exertions of the preceding days, retired to the rear. The enemy now organized a charge on our center by 500 of its cavalry. They came first at a walk, then at a trot, then with a deafening yell charged at full speed. The infantry reserved its fire well, till it could be given with deadly effect, driving the enemy back in headlong flight, losing many killed and wounded, and three prisoners, and a number of horses captured. The 43rd had only two men wounded. In the afternoon reinforcements came up.''

On May 31, the 43rd Infantry was moved by railroad to Memphis. At Memphis they were loaded onto the steamer ''Tycoon'' and transported to the Yazoo River. On arrival at the Yazoo, the 43rd was loaded back on board and steamed up the Yazoo River to Satartia. Nearby was several thousand Confederate troops under the command of Wirt Adams. The Union troops drove the Confederate troops passed Mechanicsville, a distance of greater than four miles.

On September 11, 1863, the 43rd moved to occupy Little Rock, being the first Infantry Regiment to enter.

On April 28, 1864, the 43rd Illinois, with the Swedish Company, arrived at Princeton, where it joined up with the 40th Iowa, and Vaughn's Battery. During the night, the Confederates assembled about 20,000 men and on April 30th, they attacked near Jenkin's Ferry. The Regimental History describes it as ''most desperate and bloody; at one time the enemy placed a battery of four guns in position, when some men of the 29th Iowa, 43rd Illinois, and 2nd Kansas (colored) rushed up and took the battery, dragging two of the guns within the Union lines.'' By noon the Confederates had been driven out of the River bottom and the Union forces continued their march. In all, the Union losses were about 700 and the Confederate losses were estimated to be over 2,100.

The 43rd Illinois Infantry, with the Swedish Company arrived at Little Rock on May 3, 1864. It remained at this location until it was mustered out on November 30, 1865. It returned to Camp Butler for final pay and was discharged December 14, 1865.

Local members of the original Company C of the

43rd Illinois Infantry, ''Swedish Company'' were

Capt Hugo Starkhoff, Galesburg ,Promoted

Capt Olof Edvall, Galesburg, Died May 7, 1862Capt Carol Arosenius, Galesburg, Enlisted terminated, Sept. 26, 1864

1st Lt John Arnberg, Galesburg, Transferred to Co. A

2nd Lt Nels McCool, Galesburg, Died

2nd Lt Nels Knutson, Galesburg, Transferred to Co. A

Sgt Nels Nelson, Galesburg, Reenlisted as Veteran

Sgt Nels Anderson, Galesburg, Discharged May 22, 1862- illness

Cpl Ggustaaf Anderson, Galesburg, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Cpl Charles Cling, Galesburg, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Cpl Olof Hollfast, Bishop Hill, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Cpl Peter Bergstrom, Galesburg, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Cpl Adolph Larson, Galesburg, Discharged Sept. 4, 1862- illness

Cpl John Paulson, Galesburg, Mustered out Sept. 26, 1864

Musician Anddrew Engstrom, Wataga, Reenlisted as Veteran

Pvt Andrew Anderson, Wataga, Reenlisted as Veteran

Pvt Louis Anderson, Galesburg, Died in St Louis June 14, 1862

Pvt William Anderson, Wataga, Died at Hebron, Miss.Aug. 15, 1863

Pvt Olof Bergstrom, Bishop Hill, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt Nels Botelson, Galesburg, Mustered out Oct 11, 1862- wounded

Pvt Henry Denning, Galesburg, Released July 8, 1862- illness

Pvt John Erickson, Galesburg, Released April 29, 1862-illness

Pvt William Harpman, Victoria, Released August 14, 1862-illness

Pvt Charles Johnson, Galesburg, Released September 9, 1862-illness

Pvt John Johnson, Wataga, Fell at Helena, Ark Aug. 24, 1863

Pvt John Lundqvist, Victoria, Died in St. Louis February 4, 1862

Pvt Sven P. Malmberg, Galesburg, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt Sven A. Nilson, Galesburg, Died in Jackson, Iowa Sept. 30,1862

Pvt Weste Nelson, Galesburg, Died, Little Rock, AK Sept 16, 1863

Pvt Louis Nelson, Galesburg, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt Sven Olson, Knoxville, Released June 21, 1862-wounded

Pvt Peter Olson, Galesburg, Mustered out September 26, 1864

Pvt William Olson, Wataga, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt Sven J. Olson, Galesburg, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt Nels C. Peterson, Knoxville, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt John Peterson, Galesburg, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt John Peterson 2, Bishop Hill, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt John Peterson 3, Galesburg, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt Olof Peterson, Galesburg, Released Nov. 8, 1862-illness

Pvt Nils N. Peterson, Galesburg, To invalid corps Nov 15, 1863

Pvt Swan M. Peterson, Galesburg, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt Sven Peterson, Galesburg, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt Andrew Sandberg, Galesburg, Mustered out Sept 26, 1864

Pvt Sven E. Svenson, Galesburg, Released Aug 28, 1862-wounded

Pvt Erick Svenson, Bishop Hill, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt. Sven Svenson, Galesburg, Reenlisted as a Veteran

Pvt Bengt Svenson, Galesburg, Released Sept 6, 1862-illness


James Anderson, Galesburg

Elel Esping, Galesburg

Carl Esping, Galesburg

Magnus L. Holt, Galesburg

Samuel P. Hullberg, Galesburg

Magnus Hockomb, Galesburg

John Jacobson, Galesburg

Charles Johnson, Galesburg

John Johnson, Galesburg

Sam A. Mengerson, Galesburg

Sven Peterson, Galesburg

Charles A. Samuelson, Galesburg

Gustaf Willman, Galesburg

References for More Information:

Illinois Adjutant General Report. Regimental and Unit Histories- History of 43rd Illinois Volunteer Infantry (available at http://www/

Willliamson, Leroy, 1979 (translator). The Swedes in Knox County, Illinois. Published by the Knox County Genealogical Society (copy available in Galesburg Public Library)

Uploaded to The Zephyr website May 26, 1999

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