A Day in the LIfe of Jens Dahle: 29 November 1864

We continue to follow Civil War soldier, Jens Dahle, a private in the 2nd MN through the eyes of a fellow prisoner, James Eberhardt.

“Up at daylight and went in to see Tom & he was dying & could not Speak but seemed to know me by his Eyes.  I stayed a while & got a lock of his hair & he was Carried to the dead House.” — James Eberhardt [1]

The dead house was the the building where they put the bodies until they loaded them on the wagon and hauled them out of the enclosure and buried the bodies.

James and Jens have now been in prison 100 days.

Atlanta ruined rr station 1864Lincoln was re-elected earlier in the month significantly aided by the capture of Atlanta by Sherman in late October. The war is not going well for the South and the majority of the Southerners are starting to realize the futility of continuation.  Sherman has just started his March to the Sea after the burning of Atlanta’s warehouses and railroads [2].  A month from now he will be in Savannah with a 60 mile wide swath of destruction and devastation caused by his 62,000 soldiers. [3]

None of those victories affected life in the camp; in fact it is not known whether the prisoners were even aware of these events..

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  prepared for our SGS Board meeting by generating my Publications report, put together a proposal to the Board for a Family History Writing Contest with a real prizes!  Contacted the Southern California GS to see if I could use their Family History Contest rules and FAQs for ours–they said yes (cooperation between societies is so amazing!); also contacted the writer of the dissertation I wrote about a few blogs ago.  Finished up writing my notes  for my KDP– got my 500 words in today!  AND had a very nice Thanksgiving at home with hubby–with full meal for the two of us!  Anyone want some left overs?

[1] Florence C. McLaughlin, editor, “Diary of Salisbury Prison by James Eberhart,” The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, July 1973.

[3]  George N. Barnard, photographer, “Atlanta, Ga. Ruins of depot, blown up on Sherman’s departure,” digital image NARA (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/cwp2003000882/PP/ : accessed 27 November 2014).

[2] The History Place, “Civil War 1861-1865: A House Divided,” timeline (http://www.historyplace.com/civilwar/ : accessed 27 November 2014).


6 comments on “A Day in the LIfe of Jens Dahle: 29 November 1864

  1. a gray says:

    I don’t know the current convention; therefore as with so many things by asking a question, I expose my own ignorance. That confession out of the way, here is my question:.

    You refer to Jens Dahle’s unit as the “2nd MN”. “MN”, of course, being the current U.S. Postal Service code for Minnesota. Is it the current practice in genealogical writing to use U.S. Postal Service codes when referring to states or to military units? Also, is it the current practice in genealogical writing to omit the branch of service when referring to Civil War or earlier military units? As written, I don’t know the branch of service in which Jens served. Was it the cavalry, infantry or some other designated branch or unit?

    Since I am not engaged in the process of genealogical education as you are, these are questions which have arisen in my mind, and I wonder what the current practice or convention is..

    • Jill Morelli says:

      Oh, Allen. You caught me being lazy. No super convention; no USPS located in Waseca, Minnesota in the 1860s to say we are going to use postal codes! Jens enlisted in the 2nd Company, Minnesota Sharpshooters. This unit was eventually subsumed into the 2nd Minnesota but I do not have all the particulars of it handy. Sharpshooters are pretty interesting. The were, as Drew Gilpin Faust described in her book The Republic of Suffering, “Kiling machines.” They were selected because they were very good shots and their job was to be snipers. They were issued a special rifle which had great accuracy from a long distance, Sharp’s breech loading rifle. (Christian Sharp was the original developer of the gun in the 1850s with improvements by Richard C. Lawrence of the A.S. Nippes Company of Mill Creek, Pennsylvania.)

      • a gray says:

        I rather suspect that the correct style for Jens’ unit was “2nd Company of Minnesota Sharpshooters” rather than “2nd Company, Minnesota Sharpshooters”. No comma. I am not certain that there was an organization called “Minnesota Sharpshooters”, but I feel confident there was an organization known as “2nd Company of Minnesota Sharpshooters”. This may seem like a small thing, but you might want to check it out. It could be significant.

        As you can see from the List of Minnesota Civil War units (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Minnesota_Civil_War_units), there were many Minnesota units with a “2nd” designation.

        2nd Company of Minnesota Sharpshooters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_Company_of_Minnesota_Sharpshooters)

        2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment

        2nd Company of Minnesota Sharpshooters

        2nd Minnesota Volunteer Cavalry Regiment

        2nd Minnesota Light Artillery Battery

        You should probably check with a military historian, but I rather suspect that the term “Volunteer” is rather optional, but it is important to designate the unit type, e.g., Cavalry, and organization, e.g., Regiment.

        I would also include the company designation when known. Not all companies fought together and that a company participated in a certain battle while other companies of a regiment did not could have historical significance to client.

      • Jill Morelli says:

        Allen, you, as you know are far more of a military expert than I. Thanks for the info. Jill

  2. Ray Hager says:


    Thanks for your ongoing interest and notes about my great-grandfather, Jens Dahle.

    To be clear, he enslisted in Berdans 2nd Company US Sharpshooters early in 1862. Later the company was attached to the First Minnesota Regiment as Company L (not the 2nd Minnesota). As part of the First Minnesota, he participated in many of the famous battles, including Gettysburg, where company L was assigned to guard a battery (cannons) near Zieglers grove at the north end of Cemetary Ridge. Thus Company L was spared the carnage that the First Minnesota suffered during Pickett’s Charge where their sacrifice bought enough time for reinforcements to arrive to hold the line.

    Best regards,

    • Jill Morelli says:

      Thanks, for the clarification. Yes, Jens enlisted in January of 1862 and reported in March. His is quite the story. Often you will see a Civil War soldier in multiple units, particularly as the war progressed. Decimated regiments were combined with another. the ancestor would have a file under each unit within which they served. Sometimes when a soldier appears to have gone AWOL, they instead have moved over to a different unit. There may also be many entries in the Soldiers Sailors Database with the same name. They may be in fact the same person–so don’t stop when you find one entry that might be your guy.

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