Statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg outside state capitol to be rededicated in May

MADISON, Wis. — A statue outside the state capitol honoring the highest-ranking Wisconsin soldier to die in the Civil War will be rededicated during Memorial Day weekend.

The statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg, a Norwegian immigrant who became an American citizen and fought to abolish slavery before dying at the age of 33 at the Battle of Chickamauga, had stood outside the Wisconsin State Capitol’s King Street entrance since 1926, when Norwegian citizens presented it to state officials.

The statue, along with the “Lady Forward” statue overlooking State Street on the opposite side of the Capitol, was torn down by protesters in the summer of 2020 following the arrest of a prominent Madison activist.

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Both statues were reinstalled in September 2021 after extensive restoration work. Costs to repair the Heg statue were estimated between $30,000 and $50,000. The state later received $60,000 in federal grants to help cover the cost of restoration.

Felony charges were later filed against a man who was seen on city surveillance cameras attaching cables to both statues, and the man was eventually sentenced to seven years in federal prison for trying to firebomb the City-County Building downtown the same night. Several other people in the group were also identified and charged.

The rededication ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 29 at 1 p.m. at the King Street entrance of the Wisconsin State Capitol. The ceremony will be based on a memorial dedication service from 1917 by the Grand Army of the Republic, which was the largest group of Union Civil War veterans at the time. The successors of the Grand Army of the Republic, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, will be involved in the event.

Officials from the Madison Veterans Council and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum will also be on hand, and descendants of Col. Heg will also be flying in from across the country for the ceremony.