Colonel Hans C. Heg

Colonel Heg's statue guards the King Street entrance to the State Capitol building in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. (Sept. 1996).
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Note: More information about Col. Heg and the 15th Wisconsin regiment can be found at the 15th Wisconsin web page at:

(The following information about Col. Heg supplied by Kevin Dier-Zimmel)

Col. Heg was the Prison Commissioner at the Waupun State Prison from January 1860 thru December of 1861.

December 1, 1859

Major Heg will, we are glad to be able to state, and the affairs of the Prison in much better shape than did Mr. MacGraw. When the latter entered upon the discharge of his duties, January 4th, 1858, he found the Prison in a very destitute condition, so far as clothing, bedding, etc., was concerned, and about $13,000 in debt. Consequently the expenses for the first three months were necessarily greater than any six subsequent months. Mr. McGraw, unlike his predecessor, leaves the Prison well supplied with everything, and out of debt. The work accomplished during his term, considering the amount of money expended, is almost incredible, and when Mr. MacGraw retires from office the people well exclaim--"Well done thou good and faithful servant." The New Officers: Commissioner Honorable Hans C. Heg, Deputy Warden Levi Evens, and Physician Dr. S. B Coe as of January 1860.

On Monday the 2d, Mr. Heg enters upon duties of his office as Prison Commissioner, and if he displayed as much judgement in the selection of his officers abroad as he has done in the selection of those in our own village, he will have a trusty, honorable and unwearied company to share in the burdens imposed upon him. Of Mr. Evans, whom he has appointed his Deputy, we might say much. He is well known in our midst, has endeared himself to many of our citizens by his uniform kind and benevolent nature, by his straight-forward integrity and by noble, manly deportment, which wins the affections of those who come in contact with him.

Comment of H. C. Heg ---Mr. Heg we beheld a man noble enough to refuse to accept popular judgement in the place of truth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(This little article shows that the late Col. Heg had compassion even towards the convicted criminal.)

About February 26, 1860 the following occurred:

Accident---Michael Tracy, (Prisoner) fell from the scaffolding of the prison wall, a distance of about 18 feet on the 26 of last month (February), a part of scaffolding gave away just as he with another prisoner was handling a heavy stone, and precipitated them down with stones and rubbish to the ground, Michael was at first thought to be badly injured, the Prison physician was sent for, where after a careful examination found no serious injury inflicted and he is doing well. Much sympathy was manifested for him, Mr. Heg, (Prison Commissioner) and Mrs. Evens at once going to see him, and assisting to make him comfortable till the Doctor arrived. Mrs. Evens is the Deputy Warden's wife.

October 10, 1860

John Wright, the insane convict, has been removed to the State Insane Assylum at Madison, by order of the Governor, under law passed two years since. We regard this an act of humanity, for which Gov. Randall is entitled to the thanks of the community. It is not without great hope that by proper course of treatment, such as he will receive at his new and more cheerful place of abode, that his mind may be restored to sanity. The COMMISSONER, Major Heg, (H. C. Heg was called Major in Waupun) took him, neatly and commedably dressed in citizens clothes, on Monday last. He looked cheerful, and gave evidence of thankfulness and intelligence. We hope he may be permanently restored.

(James E. Heg, son of Hans C. Heg, Civil War Hero)

From:  Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States
       Commandry of the State of Wisconsin
       Milwaukee, May 8th, 1914

At a stated meeting of the Commandry, held on May 6th, 1914 the accompanying report of a Committee to prepare a tribute of respect to the memory of our late Companion.

James Edmund Heg---was read and adopted. By order of: Asst. Paymaster J. W. Mecham, U. S. N., Commander-------Amos P. Foster, Recorder


Our companion James Edmund Heg died at the home of his daughter, in Waukegan, Illinois, April 6th, 1914, and was buried at his former home town, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Wednesday, the 8th.

Companion Heg was the son of Brevet Brigadier General Hans C. Heg, who entered the service as Colonel of the Fifteenth Wisconsin, and was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga, September 19th, 1863, (died of wounds September 20, 1863) while commanding a brigade, on the eve of his appointment as a full brigadier general of volunteers. Previous to entering the service General Heg was for some time State Prison Commissioner.

Our Companion Heg was a bright graduate of Beloit College. Soon after leaving College he adopted the profession of journalism and for many years was the editor and proprietor of the Lake Geneva Hearld, which he made one of the leading weekly papers of the State. He served the Wisconsin State Press Association as its president and secretary, and was the orator one year. When the legislature authorized the establishment of the Green Bay Reformatory, Companion Heg was appointed its FIRST SUPERINTENDENT, and the foundation for that institution which has been of benefit to boys and young men who have been sent there, was laid and the building begun under the direction of our departed Companion. He served in similar institutions in Pennsylvania and New York after leaving Wisconsin. He was a genial, brilliant, kindly gentleman, always courteous, and his friends were legion.

Companion Heg became a first class member of his Commandery by inheritance, the fall of 1886, and while a resident of the State was a frequent attendant upon its sessions. To all who knew him well his death is deeply felt. His family and friends are assured of the sincere sympathy of his surviving Companions.

                J. A. Watrous
                Charles H. Anson
                Walter Kempster, Committe 
circular 12
series 1914
whole number 534

Even Heg was James E. Heg's grandfather and he was co-publisher of one of the first Norwegian-American newspapers. (Nordlyset)

Hope you enjoyed this article on James E. Heg. He did follow his Father's foot steps in respect to being in charge of a prison.

(Program at the Unveiling of the Statue of Colonel Hans C. Heg of the Fifteenth Wisconsin Volunteers. Sunday afternoon, October Seventeenth, 2:30 1926.....)

This Memorial was erected under the direction of: DET NORSKE SELSKAB AF AMERIKA

                    The Capitol Park
                    Madison, Wisconsin

Order of Exercises

Music--National Emblem March-Bagley By the Madison High School Bands

Procession of Members of the Grand Army of the Republic Escorted by the Boy Scout Fife and Drum Corps, from the Capitol Rotunda to the plaform.

Song-The Battle Hymn of the Republic By the Grieg Male Chorus, Mr. O. P. Berg, conducting

By the Reverend Stanley E. Latrop, Chaplin of the Lucius Fairchild Post, GAR

By Honorable A. J. Myrland, President of the Supreme Lodge, Sons of Norway

Unveiling Address
By Professor Julius Olson, of the University of Wisconsin

Unveling Ceremony
By Lewis Rolfson, Company C, 15th Wisconsin Volunteers, ASSISTED BY THE BAND, PLAYING THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER.

Presentation Address
By Honorable O. P. B. Jacobson, of Minnesota, President of the Norwegian Society of America

Acceptance on behalf of the State
By His Excellency John J. Blain, Governor

Acknowledgement on Behalf of the City
By Honorable Albert G. Schmedeman, Mayor

An Appreciation
By Jesse S. Myers, Veteran of the Civil War, Custodian of the G. A. R. Memorial Hall

Song-Ja, vi elsker dette Landet
By the Grieg Male Chorus

By Consul Bernets of Chicago, and Olaf I. Rove, Norwegian Vice-Consul for Wisconsin

By the Assemblage, led by the Grieg Male Chorus

Preceding the singing of America, the scuptor, Mr. Paul Fjelde, of New York, and the officers of The Norwegian Society of America will be presented to the assemblage. They are: Hon O. P. B. Jacobson., of St. Paul, President; Mr. A. M. Sundheim, of Minneapolis, Treasurer; and Mr. Waldemar Ager, of Eau Claire, Secretary. It is due largely to the Zeal and Untiring efforts of Mr. Ager that this memorial has become a reality.


Colonel Hans C. Heg was the most distinguished soldier of the Norwegian blood in the Civil War. Leading a brigade of the Northern army in the Battle of Chickamauga, he fell mortally wounded on September 19, 1863, and died the following day. One of the regiments of his brigade was the famous Fifteenth Wisconsin. He had taken the lead in organizing this regiment at Camp Randall during the fall of 1861.

The Fifteenth Wisconsin played a gallant part in the war, particularly in the Kentucky, Tennessee, and northern Georgia operations of the Union forces. Among more than a score of battles in which the regiment fought were Island Number 10, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Resaca, New Hope Church and Kenesaw Mountain. More than one third of the regiment made the supreme sacrifice, placing the Fifteenth--in respect to mortality--in the front rank of all the various regiments representing Wisconsin.

The Fifteenth Wisconsin was made up almost wholly of Norwegian immigrants. It was trained at Camp randall, Madison. It originally numbered 801 men, with 105 added later. It lost 289 by death, and when mustered out, had only 320 of its original membership.

Colonel Heg was born December 21, 1829, near Drammen, in southern Norway, one of four children of Mr. and Mrs. Even Heg. The family left Norway in 1840, settling in Muskego, Racine county, a famous Norwegian settlement. Here Hans Heg was reared. His father was a leader in the community, and was the co-publisher of one of the first Norwegian papers in the United Sates, called The Northern Light, which was first issued in July, 1847.

In 1849, with several companions, Hans Heg set out for California to search for gold. Two years later his father died, when the son returned to Wisconsin to take charge of the homestead. In 1859 he was married (1851 he married) to Gunhild Einong. He became absorbed in politics, and was elected to various minor offices, gave up farming, and went into business in Waterford. In 1859 he was nominated by the Republican Party for the office of State Prison Commissioner, and was elected by a large majority. In 1861, he declined a renomination in order to throw all his energies into the great fight for liberty and union.

During his two years of war service, Colonel Heg won an enviable reputation for courage and fidelity. "He was a brave officer," said General Rosecrans, "and I intended to promote him to be a general." A pyramid of cannon balls has been erected on the battlefield of Chickamauga at the spot where he fell. His remains are buried in a Muskego Cemetery. His widow died in 1923.

(The following is taken from The Civil War Letters of Col. Hans C. Heg, Edited by Theodore C. Belegen, Published by: Norwegian American Historical Association, Northfield, Minnesota 1936)


Several officers of the 15th Wisconsin visited their fallen chief on the night of September 19, 1863. One of them told the Colonel that he had heard of his gallantry during the battle and that boys of the 15th would have been glad to see him. " Tell my boys of the Fifteenth, " Heg replied, " that I kept myself where I was needed and that I knew they did not need me." To Lt. Col. Johnson he said that " he was glad that the Fifteenth had held their places like men and had done their duty to the last." His own life, he said, was given for a just cause.

On the following day, September 20, 1863, shortly before noon, Colonel Heg died.

(The Grand Army of the Republic was equivalent to the modern day American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations. The G A R was interested in the welfare of Veterans both social and political.)

Grand Army of the Republic
Hans C. Heg, Post Number 114
Waupun,Wisconsin (Date of Charter, October 16, 1883)

Commander Jacob Fuss
Adjutant L. D. Hinkley

Members:--John G. Moore, W. H. Parsons, A. S. Clark William H. Ferris, J. C. Reynolds, M. B. Lucker, C. H. Lindsley, J. W. Oliver, Ed Padgham, Henry Brooks, Maj. George W. Carter, William L. Conaut, L. D. Hinkley, W. S. Whiting, J. J. Roberts, Capt. L. B. Balcom, Clark Hewit, R. L. Oliver, J. A. Middaugh, C. R. Brigham, C. Brink, S. R. Morhous, P. Carrington, J. G. Beardsley, W. S. Wilkes, Thomas L. McDonald, Friend Ostrom, J. La Rue, James Robbins, D. J. Ferguson, Barney Smith, Edwin Hillyer, W. A. Welch, O. F. Baldwin, William Boldt, B. B. Baldwin, Chas. M. Packard, W. W. Flag, J. Heath, Ira F. Kilner, Geo, Benway, H. Trowbridge, Robert M. Cain, D. R. Amadon, J. J. Hilbert, Samuel Atkins, J. W. Bartholomew, C. W. Page,, C. L. Owens, Fred W. Ward, George Richardson, Ira Clement, R. H. Smith, L. E. Beardsley, Malone Nivision, Wm. Durand, W. M. Bouldray, Walace Cole, Wm. L. Johnson, J. Cronk, Gilbert C. Wade, W. H. Wells, Albert Streeter, John H. Foster and William McFate

The Hans C. Heg Post #114 was still active in the early 1900's.

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