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15th Illinois Infantry
in the American Civil War

Online Books:
15th Illinois Infantry Soldier Roster - Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Illinois, Volume 1, Revised by Brigadier General J.N. Reece, Adjutant General, 1900       View Entire Book

Regimental History
Fifteenth Illinois Infantry. Cols., Thomas J. Turner, George C. Rogers; Lieut.-Cols., Edward F. Ellis, George C. Rogers, James Rany; Majs., William R. Goddard, James Rany, Adam Nase, Rufus C. McEathron. The 15th was raised under the "Ten Regiment Act," in the 1st Congressional district. Co. A was from McHenry county, B, Winnebago county, C, Boone county, D, McHenry county, G, Stephenson county, H, Ogle county, I, Lake county, and K, from Carroll county. The regiment was organized at Freeport and mustered into the U. S. service on May 24, 1861, being one of the first regiments from the state sworn into that service for the three years' term. After electing officers, organizing and drilling for some time, the regiment proceeded to Alton, Ill., remaining there six weeks for instruction. In July it left Alton by steamboat for St. Charles, Mo., thence by rail to Mexico, Mo., where it remained for a time in company with the 21st Ill. infantry, commanded by Col. U. S. Grant. It went to Jefferson barracks, and thence by rail to Rolla, Mo., where it arrived in time to cover Gen. Sigel's retreat from Wilson's creek. It also assisted in the capture of 1,300 Confederates a few miles from Sedalia. On Feb. 1, 1862, the regiment marched to Jefferson City, moved thence by rail to St. Louis, where it embarked on transports for Fort Donelson and arrived in time to take part in the surrender. At the battle of Shiloh it was in Veatch's brigade, Hurlbut's division, the first line of battle. Hardly had the brigade taken position when a Confederate column, massed three lines deep, deployed from the woods on the left and front, and with the "rebel yell" that echoed through the surrounding forest, charged on in double-quick. For more than one hour the regiment held its position, fighting 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. As soon as a new line was formed (the 14th Ill. on the left of the 15th), and when the enemy had approached sufficiently near, these two regiments, acting as one man, rose and delivered a rapid, well-aimed and destructive fire, full into the massed ranks of the enemy, soon convincing the latter that that was not the way to the landing. At the second attack these two regiments received the first shock and for 3 hours were in that awful gap, without giving ground, where the Confederates sacrificed more than 2,000 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 which were always afterward brigaded and served together during the remainder of the war, and were discharged at the same time and place. The 15th was in the hottest of the fight both days of the bloody battle, but not a man faltered in his duty or failed to perform all that was required of him. The two regiments that were led by Gen. Grant in person in the final charge on the 7th, were the 14th and 15th Ill. This detachment moved forward and when within range delivered its fire, then with fixed bayonets charged at the double-quick. The raking fire, however, had done its work and the Confederate army had fled. The 15th lost in this engagement 250 men, killed and wounded; 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. The regiment participated in the siege of Corinth, Miss., losing a number of men killed and wounded; was on the extreme left at the engagement on the Hatchie river in October; forced the enemy from his position on Aletamora hill; charged the enemy in connection with other troops, routing and scattering his formation in the wildest confusion, and driving him to the river bank, the 15th capturing one 4-gun battery and about 300 men at this point, while 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 forming on the right of the 15th. The two regiments charged the enemy in the timber, driving him from a 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. The 15th lost on that day over 50 men in killed and wounded. It then returned to Bolivar, thence to Lagrange, thence with Gen. Grant down through Mississippi to Coffeeville, returning to Lagrange and Memphis. At Vicksburg it took an active part in all the movements during the siege of that place, losing many in killed and wounded. After the surrender of Vicksburg it 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, and later went into winter quarters at Vicksburg. There the regiment reenlisted as veterans, remaining until Feb. 1, 1864, when it moved with Gen. Sherman through Mississippi. At Champion's hill it had a severe engagement with a body of Confederates, charged them several times during the day, and each time drove them from their position. In March the reenlisted portion of the regiment went home on veteran furlough and upon returning to the field joined Gen. Sherman's army in the movement toward Atlanta, during which the 15th and 14th Ill. regiments were consolidated.

Footnotes:
Regimental history taken from "The Union Army" by Federal Publishing Company, 1908 - Volume 3

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