About Ernest Von Vegesack
pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Major & Aide-de-Camp Ernest Von Vegesack, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 27 June 1862, while serving with U.S. Volunteers, in action at Gaines Mill, Virginia. While voluntarily serving as aide-de-camp, Major Von Vegesack successfully and advantageously charged the position of troops under fire.
General Orders: Date of Issue: August 23, 1893
Action Date: June 27, 1862
Rank: Major & Aide-de-Camp
Division: U.S. Volunteers
Ernst Mattias Peter von Vegesack (June 18, 1820 – January 12, 1903) was a Swedish volunteer in the Union Army during American Civil War and later on was a member of the parliament of Sweden. After his return to Sweden, he was awarded the brevet grade of Brigadier general of volunteers and in 1893 he received the Medal of Honor for bravery in the Battle of Gaines' Mill.
Career in Sweden
Ernest von Vegesack was born on the Baltic island of Gotland as a member of the Swedish nobility. In 1840 he became an army officer of Gotlands nationalbeväring. Two years later he was transferred to Dalregementet. He was educated in surveying and worked until 1850 as a surveyor in Dalarna County. In 1852 he was transferred to Saint Barthélemy, then a Swedish possession in the Caribbean. After his return to Sweden, he received the command over Dalregementet and he was also supervising the Gävle-Dala Railroad, the first long railroad of Sweden.
American Civil War
At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, von Vegesack left for the United States and joined the Union Army. He became captain of the 58th Ohio Infantry. The same year, he was promoted to major in the staff of general John E. Wool. First he served in Fort Monroe. As an aide-de-camp (ADC) to Mansfield he took part in the artillery bombardment of Newport News. In 1862 he resigned, but then he joined McClellan in his siege of Yorktown. As an ADC to Butterfield he took part in the battles of Hanover Court House, of Seven Pines and of Fair Oaks. He was at the Battle of Mechanicsville, Gaines's Mill, Savage's Station, and Malvern Hill. Vegesack was appointed colonel of the 20th New York Infantry, the German "Turner" regiment. He was given the command over the 3rd brigade in general Smith's division of the 6th Army Corps. He took part in the battles of Manassas and Bull Run. He captured the heights outside Jefferson, Maryland. He displayed bravery at Antietam. Vegesack was in the Battle of Fredericksburg. In May 1863 Vegesack's regiment was a part of Hooker's left wing in the Battle of Chancellorsville.
Vegesack resigned from the Union Army on June 1, 1863 and returned to Sweden. On February 22, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated von Vegesack for award of the brevet grade of brigadier general of volunteers, to rank from March 13, 1865 and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on April 10, 1866.
Back in Sweden
After his return to Sweden, Vegesack was promoted and given the command over Västerbottens regemente in 1864. The next year he got married to Edla Amalia Sergel. In 1868 he was transferred to Hälsinge regemente. From 1874 till 1884 he was military commander of his native Gotland. Promoted to Major general in 1884, he was appointed commander of Sweden's 5th military district. Vegesack resigned from the military in 1888.
From 1879 till 1887 Vegesack sat in the upper house of the parliament of Sweden as a delegate for Gotland. Ernst von Vegesack died January 12, 1903 at Stockholm, and was buried at Skogskyrkogården in Stockholm.