Colonel Hans Christian Heg
And the Norwegian American Experience
Author Odd S. Lovoll
Minnesota Historical Society Press (March 14, 2023)
This first full-length biography of Colonel Heg examines the life of a Civil War hero while illuminating the experiences of Norwegian American immigrants who found both hardship and success in a new home.
Hans Christian Heg (1829–1863) was a Norwegian American abolitionist, journalist, antislavery activist, prison reformer, politician, and soldier. Best known for leading the Fifteenth Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment on the Union side during the Civil War, Heg died of wounds received at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863.
While Heg's achievements earned him a statue on the Wisconsin state capitol grounds, behind his public persona was a life emblematic of his generation. Heg's family hailed from Lier, Norway; economic as well as religious challenges led them, like so many others, to leave their homeland for the promise of a better life. Heg himself trod multiple paths: joining in the California Gold Rush, pursuing a political career in support of the Free Soil Party and then the newly formed Republican Party, and taking up the role of Wisconsin state prison commissioner. Like his fellow immigrants, he made a living and nurtured a family at the same time that he was defining what it meant to be both Norwegian and American.
Heg's remarkable leadership of the Fifteenth Wisconsin, the "Norwegian regiment," is the stuff of legends. But this book is more than a biography of one man: it is the story of a generation of immigrant citizens who contributed politically, economically, and socially to the American Midwest and beyond.
Odd S. Lovoll is the author of several books on the Norwegian American immigrant experience, including Norwegians on the Prairie, Norwegian Newspapers in America, and Across the Deep Blue Sea. He was born in Sande, in Møre og Romsdal, Norway, and immigrated to the United States in 1946. Lovoll was educated at the University of Bergen and the University of Oslo before receiving an M.A. from the University of North Dakota and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He taught for three years at Minnesota and then spent 30 years as a professor of history at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he is professor emeritus. Lovoll also served for 20 years as publication editor for the Norwegian-American Historical Association. In 1986, Lovoll was decorated with the Knight's Cross First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit by King Olav V of Norway, and in 2001 he was inducted into the Scandinavian Hall of Fame at Norsk Høstfest, North America's largest Scandinavian festival. He lives in Northfield, Minnesota.
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- 224 pages
- 6 x 9 inches
- 34 b/w illustrations, notes, bibliography, index
- ISBN: 9781681342504