Biography of Robert M. Hanson
Madison County, Ohio Biographies





ROBERT M. HANSON (deceased), late United States Consul to Bremen, was born in Madison County, Ohio, on the 14th of April, 1837, being the youngest son in a family of four brothers and three sisters. He was left an orphan at an early age by the death of his parents. In his boyhood days, he was distinguished among his fellows and playmates as a boy of more than common energy and determination. On arriving near the years of maturity, and foreseeing the necessity of it, he determined to avail himself of the advantages of a more thorough education than the facilities of his neighborhood supplied. Having prepared himself, he entered the Miami University at Oxford, Ohio. The path of knowledge to him was no "flowery path of ease," he being obliged to earn them means to pay for his tuition. This he accomplished by teaching part of the time, and attending his studies the remainder. Having accomplished his studies, he chose the profession of law, and began reading in the office of Hon. H. W. Smith, of this place. Here again stern necessity held him back, and he returned to teaching to procure means. This life was a laborious one, for as soon as school hours were over, he was reading Kent and Blackstone. He was admitted to the bar late in the winter of 1860-61. Before he could locate himself, the distant mutterings of that storm of civil war that for four years deluged our land with blood was heard, and when, on the memorable 14th of April the wires flashed the news to us of the fall of Fort Sumter, and then the immediate call for 75,000 men, the formation of the first company of Madison County's quota, the enlistment of the Madison Guards, their departure for the front, the wild enthusiasm that pervaded the community all these incidents are still fresh in the memory of most of us. Capt. Hanson was among the first to enlist under this call. His feelings and comprehension of the work before him can be better shown by quoting from his own correspondence with the writer, dated at Camp Jackson, Columbus, Ohio, May 2, 1861. Referring to some of his comrades who wished to return home, he says: "As for myself, I feel in duty bound, by my oath, to stand by THAT flag, and that only, and I will do so at all hazards and all sacrifices, and as long as there is a pulse in my arm I will be seen under her wide folds." And again, when en route for the fronts he writes from Parkersburg, Va., June 24, 1861: "I have been sick for two or three days, but now feel better, and will go on with the regiment, live or die on the way. This war, my friend, will be no fool's play; thousands are entering the devouring jaws of death." How well and truly he carried out these assertions, the result lies before you. The Eagle Guards were mustered in under Capt. Acton as Company C, Seventeenth Regiment, and served their three months in West Virginia, and were discharged from service at the expiration of that time. The second call for troops was made soon afterward, and the Military Commission of the county appointed him Captain and gave him permission to recruit a company for service for three years. This was speedily done, and the company was mustered at Camp Chase. by Gov. Tod, on the 19th of August, 1862, as Company B, Ninety fifth Regiment, and immediately started for the front. On the 30th of August, at Richmond, Ky., our army met the rebel forces under Kirby Smith, and the battle of Richmond was fought, resulting disastrously to our forces. Most of the Ninety fifth were captured, paroled and sent to Camp Chase. In December following, they were exchanged, reequipped and arrived at Memphis, Tenn., about the 20th of January, 1863; from thence, about April 1 to Vicksburg, thence back with other regiments into the interior, and on the 12th of May fought the battle of Jackson Court House. Here, Company B, under Cupt. Hanson, took an active part. and distinguished themselves by capturing three pieces of artiilery. Again they went back to the trenches at Vicksburg, and participated in that long, terrible siege that was followed by the fall of Vicksburg on the 4th of July. The regiment again went back to Jackson C. IL, which had been reoccupied by the rebels and fortified, and after a siege of nine days again captured the town. From thence, they were sent out on the Charleston & Memphis Railway, to guard against the raids of Forrest, and were thus employed from October to the 1st of May, when a raid was made by our forces to a point near Ripley, Miss. A second raid was started from Memphis the 1st of June, of which the Ninety fifth was a part, and on the 10th of June, near Guntown, Miss., they met Forrest with an overwhelming force; a severe engagement ensued, our army was driven back fighting over the ground, foot by foot About 3 o'clock P. M., Capt. Hanson fell, ter ribly wounded, being struck by a minie ball in the left breast near the heart, the ball lodging under the lower point of the shoulder blade. He was carried back by his own men a mile and placed in an ambulance, and taken about six miles, when the driver, supposing him dead, cut the harness loose from the ambulance and fled, leaving him to be captured. The next morning about daylight he returned to consciousness, and about 10 o'clock was taken as prisoner a short distance to a cabin. Here the rebel surgeons removed the ball, and dressed the wounds. He lay at the cabin some two weeks, and was then taken to Catawba Prison, near Selma, on the Alabama River, where he was nursed by the Sisters of Charity until he was able to be paroled, about the 20th of November. All this time his friends supposed him dead. He returned North about the 1st of December, when his wound opened again, and for nearly three months it was very doubtful if he would ever recover. Having sufficiently recovered, he was placed in the Reserve Corps, and ordered as Judge Advocate to report at Milwaukee, Wis. Here he remained until his term of enlistment expired, and he was honorably discharged. Again we quote from his correspondence, dated July 5, 1865. He says: " On last Thursday I was made a citizen again. Congratulate me, for I am free to think and act for myself, and truly, my dear friend, after almost four years' service, it is no small gratification to be thus placed in this independent position. Knowing that I have faithfully labored for my Government, this people and the people yet to come after me, and that I can reflect on the past without scruple and without sorrow, only that I could not have done more." In the fall of 1865, after his return, he was elected a member of the Ohio Legislature, and represented the county in the sessions of 1866-67, with credit to himself and the county. After the election of Gen. Grant as President in 1868, he received the appointment of Consul to Bremen, and arrived there in June, 1869. His strength had almost returned from the long weakening influence of his wound. Under the effect of the cool summers he rapidly recuperated, and was much elated, thinking the climate would make his recovery complete. But the long, northern winter began, and the piercing, chilly winds of the North Sea were more than his weak lungs could endure. In the spring, hemorrhage set in. We again quote his own language. He says: "On May 28, I went to Hanover, to visit some American friends, and to tear myself away from business and relieve the mental exertions under which I had been laboring for weeks. In the afternoon, we visited Herren Hansen, and other places of sight seeing. Having walked several miles, we returned, and feeling fatigued, I retired early and slept soundly all night. I awoke about 7 o'clock in the morning, and arose, feeling perfectly well and natural. I was immediately attacked by a hard cough, and the first I knew of anything like hemorrhage, the blood flew splattering over the mirror and wash stand before me. I was not frightened, for I had seen blood before, and from the same source. It continued for near half an hour, and at first was so rapid that it almost produced strangulation. What was, and always will be, strange to me, this spell of bleeding was a repetition of Guntown to me, in feeling. All the horrors of that day were emblazoned before my vision in a burning light, which produced a feeling as if I were again in the midst of the commingled reality. Artillery deafened my ears, powder burnt in my face, the din and smell of battle filled my nostrils, and oh ! horrible, the shrieks of the wounded and dying paralyzed my very soul; and all the while I sat gulping' out blood. I shall never be able to account for this strange turning back into the midst of one of the active scenes of my life. The hemorrhage returned again about 6 P. M., and lasted near forty minutes. This attack was followed by a chill and fever, and was the climax of my case, and on my back I laid for thirteen days, and in my room for twenty one days. This attack brought me near the valley, where I could look over and see the 'dark shadows,' once beneath the shadow of which you are lost from the sight of all things earthly forever. The sighs, and love, and friendship of those whom one leaves behind may go out faintly across that vale of immortality and futurity, but the departed never returns, and we close our eyes, enshrouded with his memory around us, that he was once among us, loved, but the still, deep, dead silence which comes back to us from the departed, says 'never to return' " From this attack, he never recovered his strength. and fearing to stay another winter in Bremen, he returned in December to the United States. On the 29th of February following, he was married to Miss Kate Williams, and with renewed hope and energy sailed again for Bremen on the 21st of March. From this time until his return, it was a gradual wasting away of life. He was advised by his physician to go to Meran, in the Tyrol Valley, among the Alps. From there they went to the Island of Sicily, and in early spring returned to Naples, Italy, where they remained until they embarked, on the 20th of August, 1873, for New York. He was then so weak that he had to be carried aboard the steamer, but he started with the strong hope of being able to reach home. A. few days after the vessel sailed, the old wound opened again, externally, and from that time he sank rapidly. On September 14, while the bright sunshine of the calm Sabbath morn was throwing its first rays over the iron steamer, far out on the deep, rolling ocean there. in the midst of that grand scene of beauty and holiness, with none but the faithful, grief stricken wife kneeling by his side, the vail of man's immortal destiny was lifted, and long suffering and sorrow was with him no more. The officers of the steamer were very kind to the deeply afflicted widow in her grief and loneliness, and did all they could with the means at hand. There was nothing aboard the steamer by which the body could be preserved. The carpenter made a coffin of pine, and it was placed on the upper deck to get the sea breeze, which was fortunately cool. On Tuesday evening at 6 o'clock P. M. the vessel arrived at her dock in New York. The remains were brought to this county and interred in Paint Township Cemetery.

From:
History of Madison County, Ohio
Published by: W. H. Beers and Company
Chicago, Illinois
1883


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