The statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg, torn down by protesters at the state Capitol on Tuesday night, honors a Norwegian immigrant from Wisconsin who died fighting for the Union Army in the Civil War.
“The State has sent no braver soldier, and no truer patriot to aid in this mighty struggle for national unity, than Hans Christian Heg,” the State Journal wrote Sept. 29, 1863, reporting word of his death. “The valorous blood of the old Vikings ran in his veins, united with the gentler virtues of a Christian and a gentlemen.”
Heg was mortally wounded in the bloody Battle of Chickamauga on Sept. 19 of that year and died the next day. The highest-ranked Wisconsin officer killed in combat during the Civil War, Heg commanded a regiment largely composed of other Scandinavian immigrants. He was 33 years old.
Heg settled in the Racine area with his parents in 1840 and lived in Wisconsin for all but one year, when he mined for Gold in the West before moving home to take over his family's farm. In 1859, he was elected to the statewide office of prison commander, "earning a reputation as a pragmatic reformer," according to the state Historical Society. Heg found an outlet for his anti-slavery views when he was tapped to lead his Union brigade.
The monument to Heg was unveiled on Capitol Square in October 1926 before a crowd of about 2,000 people. On Tuesday, a group of protesters tore it down, along with Wisconsin's "Forward" statue. Here's a look at coverage of Heg and the statue over the years.
Anniversary of death, 2008
Outside the Capitol, 1950
Closeup of statue, 1990
Portrait of Heg
Lithograph of mortal wounding
Heg's death reported, Sept. 29, 1863
Site of battlefield, 2013
State Journal story Sept. 23, 1924
State Journal story, Oct. 18, 1926
Heg statue, circa 1936
Statue in 1997
Getting cleaned up, 2002
Act 10 protests, 2011
Dusting of snow, 2016
Defacing statue, 2020
An empty base, 2020
Dumping into the lake, 2020
Empty pedestal, 2020
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