15th Illinois Infantry

The FIFTEENTH REGIMENT OF ILLINOIS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY was raised under the "Ten Regiment Act", in the First Congressional District. Company A was from McHenry county; Company B, Winnebago county; Company C, Boone county; Company D, McHenry county; Company G, Stephenson county; Company H, Ogle county; Company I, Lake county; and Company K, from Carroll county. The Regiment was organized at Freeport, Illinois, and mustered into the United States service on the 24th day of May 1861, being one of the first regiments from the State sworn into the United States service, for the three years service. After electing officers, organizing and drilling for some time, the Regiment proceeded to Alton, Illinois, remaining there six weeks for instruction. In July the Regiment left Alton by steamboat for St. Charles, Missouri, thence by rail to Mexico, Missouri, where it remained for a time in company with the Twenty-first Illinois Infantry, commanded by Colonel U.S. Grant. A part of the Regiment marched from Mexico to Fulton, and thence to the Missouri river, and thence by steamer to Jefferson Barracks; the other part of the Regiment marched to Hannibal, Mo., and thence by steamer to Jefferson Barracks. The Regiment then moved by rail to Rolla, Mo., where it arrived in time to cover General Sigel's retreat from Wilson's Creek. After building one or two forts, the Regiment was ordered to Tipton, Mo., and thence became attached to General Fremont's army, and marched under General Hunter to Springfield, Mo.; after remaining there a short time, the Regiment returned to Tipton, then went to Sedalia. It assisted in the capture of 1,300 rebels a few miles from the latter place. The Regiment then marched to Otterville, Mo., and went into winter quarters December 26, 1861. The winter was cold and the snow deep, and the first winter's experience in tents was a severe one.

February 1, 1862, the regiment marched to Jefferson City, thence by rail to St. Louis, where it embarked on transports for Fort Donelson, and arrived to take part in the surrender. The Regiment was then assigned to General S. A. Hurlbut's "Fighting Fourth Division", and marched to Fort Henry, then went by boat to Pittsburg Landing, being one of the first regiments that landed on that historic battle ground. At the battle of Shiloh, on the 6th of April, the Regiment was in the first line of battle, formed by Hurlbut's Division, and was in the Brigade commanded by General C. Veatch. Hardly had the Brigade taken positions when a Confederate column, massed three lines deep, deployed from the woods on the left and front, and with rebel yell that echoed through the surrounding forest, charged on in double quick. The Fifteenth was flanked by the Fifty-third Ohio, on the right. At the first fire of the enemy the Buckeyes broke and ran, and the enemy were not only in front of the Fifteenth Regiment, but on both flanks in a very short time. For more than one hour the Regiment held its position, and fought as gallantly as any troops could fight in the terrible struggle, called by the Confederates the "Hornet's Nest", and disputed inch by inch the advance and the incessant attacks of the best troops in the Confederate service. Owing to the want of support, the Regiment was compelled to withdraw and take up a new position. In five minutes after the Regiment formed its first line, the field officers, Lieutenant Colonel E. F. W. Ellis and Major Wm. R. Goddard, Captains Holden Brownell and Harley Wayne, and Lieutenant John W. Peterbaugh were killed, and Captain Adam Nase lost a leg and was taken prisoner. Captain Thos. J. Turner was absent, and the command of the Regiment devolved upon Captains L. D. Kelley and George C. Rogers, assisted by Adjutant Charles F. Barber. As soon as a new line was formed the Fourteenth Illinois on the left of the Fifteenth, when the enemy had approached sufficiently near, these two Regiments, acting as one man, rose and delivered a rapid, well aimed and awfully destructive fire, full into the massed ranks of the enemy. The enemy was soon convinced this was not the way to the landing. At the second attack these two Regiments received the first shock, and for three hours were in that awful gap, without giving ground, where the Confederates sacrificed more than two thousand as brave men as ever trod the battle-field, in the unavailing effort to drive them from their position. This baptism of blood cemented the two Regiments, and they were always afterwards brigaded and served together during the remainder of the war, and discharged at the same time and place. The Fifteenth was in the hottest of the fight both days of the bloody battle, and not a man faltered in his duty or failed to perform all that was required of him. The two Regiments that were in the final charge on the 7th, led by General Grant in person, were the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Illinois, the Fourteenth commanded by Colonel Hall, and the Fifteenth by Captain George C. Rogers. This detachment moved forward, and when within range delivered their fire, and with fixed bayonets charged at double quick. The raking fire, however, had done its work. The Confederate army had fled. The Fifteenth Regiment lost in this engagement 250 men, killed and wounded, and there are more of the "known dead" of this Regiment buried in the National Cemetery at Pittsburg Landing, than of any other Regiment, and many died of wounds in hospitals at home.

Captain George C. Rogers was promoted Lieutenant Colonel by Governor Yates for meritorious conduct on the battle-field of Shiloh, and took command of the Regiment. The Regiment participated in the siege of Corinth, Miss., losing a number of men killed and wounded.

After the evacuation of Corinth the Regiment marched to Grand Junction, thence to Holly Springs, then back to Grand Junction, thence to Lagrange, thence to Memphis, arriving there July 21st, 1862, where it remained till September 6th. After recruiting, drilling, procuring new uniforms and "seeing the sights", the Regiment marched to Boliver, Tenn., and from there the 4th Division was ordered by General Grant to "relieve Rosecrans at Corinth or perish". At the Hatchie river on the morning of October 4th, 1862, the division met the enemy on Matamora Hill; the 15th Regiment was on the extreme left and forced the enemy from their position, and in connection with other troops, charged the enemy, routing and scattering their formation in the wildest confusion, and driving them to the river bank, the 15th capturing one four-gun battery and about three hundred men at this point; many jumped into the river and were drowned. The 15th charged across the Hatchie bridge on a run, and formed the first line on the left of the road; the 14th formed on the right of the 15th. The two regiments charged the enemy in the timber, driving them from their strong position, capturing another battery crowning the crest of the hill, and soon the enemy was in full flight, looking for a new place to retreat across the Hatchie. Torn and bleeding, the 15th laid on the ground that night, covered with new and everlasting honors. The 15th was commanded on that day by Lieutenant Colonel G.C. Rogers, and lost over fifty men in killed and wounded. The Regiment then returned to Bolivar, from thence to Lagrange, thence with General Grant down through Mississippi to Coffeeville, returning to Lagrange and Memphis; thence to Vicksburg, taking an active part in all the movements during the siege of that place, losing many in killed and wounded. After the surrender of Vicksburg, marched with Sherman to Jackson, Miss., then returned to Vicksburg and embarked on a boat for Natchez, marched thence to Kingston, returned to Natchez, then to Harrisonburg, La., capturing Fort Beauregard on the Wachita river; returned to Natchez, remained there until November 10th, 1863, then proceeded by boat to Vicksburg, and went into winter quarters. Here the Regiment re-enlisted as veterans, remaining until February 1st, 1864, when it moved with General Sherman through Mississippi. On Champion Hills had a severe engagement with a body of rebels, charged them several times during the day, and each time drove them from their positions. Marched to Meridian and Enterprise and assisted in destroying about fifty miles of railroad; thence back to Vicksburg.

In March 1864, went home on Veteran furlough. On expiration of furlough joined Seventeenth Army Corps, and proceeded up Tennessee river to Clifton, thence to Huntsville, Ala.; thence to Decatur and Rome, Ga., thence to Kingston, and joined General Sherman’s army, moving on Atlanta. At Allatoona Pass the 15th Regiment was, with the other regiments belonging to the 2d Brigade, 4th Division, 17th Corps, commanded by Colonel Geo. C. Rogers, ordered to fortify that place. The forts at Allatoona, where General Corse, with 2,100 men, defeated Hood’s whole army, were built by this brigade. Here the 15th and 14th Infantry were consolidated, and the gallant and brave McPherson knowing the honorable record of these regiments, and that neither might lose its identity, acceded to the request of Colonel Rogers, and had the organization made and known as "The Veteran Battalion Fourteenth and Fifteenth Infantry Volunteers". The organization numbers 625 men. The organization was stationed at Ackworth, Big Shanty and Marietta for some time. The rebel General Hood struck the organization at Big Shanty and Ackworth, when he moved north, capturing quite a number of the command. The remainder fell back, some to Allatoona, and fought under Gen. Corse, where many were killed and wounded; the balance fell back to Marietta, and were mounted and acted as scouts for General Vandever. They were afterwards transferred to General F.P. Blair, and marched with General Sherman to the sea.

After the capture of Savannah, the Regiment proceed to Beaufort, S.C.; thence to Salkahatchie river, participating in the various skirmishes in that vicinity-Columbia, S.C., Fayetteville, N.C., battle of Bentonville-losing a number wounded; thence to Goldsboro and Raleigh. At Raleigh recruits sufficient to fill up both regiments were received, and the organization of the Veteran Battalion discontinued, and the Fifteenth reorganized. The campaign of General Sherman ended by the surrender of General Johnston. The Regiment then marched with the army to Washington,

D.C., via Richmond and Fredericksburg, and participated in the grand review at Washington, May 24th, 1865; remained there two weeks. Proceeded by rail and steamboat to Louisville, Ky.; remained at Louisville two weeks. The regiment was then detached from the 4th Division, 17th Army Corps, and proceeded by steamer to St. Louis; from thence to Fort Leavenworth, Kas., arriving there July 1st, 1865. Joined the army serving on the plains. Arrived at Fort Kearney August 14th; then ordered to return to Fort Leavenworth, September 1st, 1865, where the Regiment was mustered out of service and placed en-route for Springfield, Ill., for final payment and discharge-having served four years and four months.
Number of miles marched			4,299
Number of miles by rail 		2,403
Number of miles by steamer 		4,310
Number of men joined from organization	1,963
Number of men at date of muster-out 	  640

 

 

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