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Civil War sesquicentennial reflections

March  29, 2012

April 6 and 7, 2012, mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Shiloh, described by General Ulysses S. Grant as “the most severe battle fought in the West during the war.” To mark this somber anniversary, the Augustana Historical Society will present a program by local historian John Norton, titled, “Augustana, Swedish Soldiers, and Shiloh: Civil War Sesquicentennial Reflections.” The program will be held in Augustana College’s Wallenberg Hall on Wednesday, April 11, at 7 p.m.

Two sons of Augustana’s first president, Lars Paul Esbjörn, served in the Civil War. Norton’s research uncovered a letter from Wilhelm Paul Esbjörn to his father upon enlisting in the Army days after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter. The letter is especially poignant in that it was written a mere five months before William’s death at the Battle of Lexington, Mo. His younger brother, Josef, joined Stolbrand’s Battery of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery, and he went on to serve at the Siege of Vicksburg. Josef was commissioned and served as an officer with the 4th U.S. Colored Infantry.

Norton also will discuss two predominantly Swedish units raised from the communities of Andover, Bishop Hill, Galesburg and Moline. Both units saw action at Shiloh, and one—D Company of the 57th Illinois Infantry, made up mostly of Bishop Hill Swedes—went on to take part in Gen. William Sherman’s March to the Sea and saw service to the war’s end.

Norton, of Moline, is the editor of Augustana Historical Society Quarterly. In 2010, he was named the Vasa Order’s Swedish-American of the Year. Norton is a retired Lutheran Brotherhood insurance representative and U.S. Army veteran.

The Augustana Historical Society, founded in 1930, exists to preserve the history of Augustana College, and its relationship to the Lutheran Church and to Swedish-American immigration and culture. Its annual spring program is open to members and non-members alike, free of charge.

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833