Anyone searching Norwegian soldiers is handicapped by changing names.
Young Norwegians used one name in Norway, frequently another in the army and a third after the war was over.
In Norway a young man would be known by his given name and his father’s. As an example, Ole, son of Johan, would be known as Ole Johansen. If additional identity was needed, he would add his farm name, Myre; he was Ole Johansen who lived on Myre.
When he came to America and enlisted, he gave his name as he generally did “Ole Johansen” and the Yankee clerk would write “Ole Johnson” and “Ole Johnson” is how the soldier would be known.
An additional point of confusion results from the fact that Norway was a part of Sweden in the nineteenth century. An enlistee might give his place of birth as Norway; the Yankee clerk would write Sweden.
After the war, the immigrant soldier acquired a farm, got married, started a family and began to think seriously about what he wanted himself and his farm to be called. Take, for example, Sergeant George Johnson of the Wisconsin 15th, Company G. He came to America in 1854. After the war, he acquired a farm near Ridgeway, Winneshiek County, Iowa. He took back his baptismal name, adopted his old Norway farm name, and became Guttorm Hovden. It took help from Guttorm Hovden’s grandchildren for usd to connect their grandfather to soldier George Johnson.
A majority of young Norwegians enlisting in the Union army are known in the military records by their patronyms, their given names plus their father’s, adding “sen” or “son.” Very often their descendants do not know these soldiers by the names they used in the Army, but instead by names used after the war, and it takes a lot of searching to connect the two.
Ole Hanson of Winneshiek County, Iowa, came to America in 1862 and joined the Iowa 13th Regiment, Company G. He is known for the diaries he kept, both before and during the war, which Vesterheim has. Soldier Ole Hanson after the war became O. H. Nass.
Jorgen Anderson immigrated from Lier, Norway. His Winneshiek County, Iowa, neighbors knew him as George Linnevold.