15th West Virginia Infantry

HISTORY

The Fifteenth Infantry was organized September, 1862, with Maxwell McCaslin, colonel; Thomas Morris, lieutenant colonel; the latter having won his advancement by meritorious conduct as captain in the Seventh West Virginia Infantry. Milton Wells, was commissioned major by Governor Peirpont, October 16, 1862. Major Wells assisted in recruiting this regiment, and like Lieutenant-Colonel Morris, had seen hard service; first as a private of Company D, 27th Ohio Infantry; later was commissioned captain of the same company, serving as such with his regiment in Missouri until August, 1862, when he resigned to accept promotion in the 15th W. Va. Infantry, rendering special service as drill master. This regiment took an active and gallant part in all the battles of the Shenandoah Valley, from the time of its organization until the last battle of Cedar Creek.

At the battle of Snicker’s Ferry, Va., July 18, 1864, Lieutenant-Colonel Morris was killed, and on August 8, 1864, Major Wells was promoted to lieutenant-colonel. On September 7, 1864, Colonel, McCaslin resigned his commission, when Lieutenant-Colonel Wells succeeded to the colonelcy, and was in command of his regiment at the battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864, and he was the first to discover the Confederate forces advancing on that notable morning, and ordered the firing of the first musketry in that engagement. As a result, his command was the only one in that engagement that left dead and wounded soldiers on the parapets. In this engagement, Colonel Wells lost all of his personal baggage, equipment, etc., but in the rally of the afternoon recaptured them, among which was his commission as colonel. It was found in the pocket of a prisoner, covered with mud and dirt, and in that condition it remains at this date, hung in a frame at the colonel’s residence in Iowa. During the engagement of the afternoon of this day, Colonel Wells was wounded in the left hip, from which he endures much suffering at the present time. This regiment served mostly in the Eighth Army Corps in West Virginia, in Colonel Thoburn’s brigade and division. In the spring of 1864, the brigade in which the 15th W. Va. was attached was transferred to the Army of the Potomac. On this march, Colonel Wells caught cold in his wound, when sciatica was produced and great suffering followed. On April 16, 1864, Colonel Wells was honorably discharged, because of disability produced by this wound.

This regiment served with distinction in the Army of the Potomac, in the 24th Corps, First Brigade, under the command of Brev. Maj.-Gen’l Thomas M. Harris, formerly colonel of the 10th W. Va. Infantry. The regiment was mustered out of the service at Richmond, Va., June 14, 1865.

[Source: Loyal West Virginia 1861-1865, by Theodore Lang]

SERVICE

Organized at Wheeling, W. Va., August-October, 1862. Attached to Railroad Division, West Virginia, to January, 1863. Sir John’s Run, Defences Upper Potomac, 8th Army Corps, Middle Dept., to March, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 8th Army Corps, to June, 1863. Unattached, New Creek, W. Va., Dept. of West Virginia, to August, 1863. Campbell’s Brigade, Scammon’s Division, Dept. West Virginia, to December, 1863. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, West Virginia, to April, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, West Virginia, April, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, West Virginia, to July, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, West Virginia, to December, 1864. 3rd Brigade, Independent Division, 24th Army Corps, Army of the James, to June, 1865.

SERVICE.–At New Creek Station October 18-December 22. 1862. Moved to Sir John’s Run December 22, and duty there guarding Baltimore & Ohio Railroad till June 16, 1863. Moved to New Creek June 16, thence to Cumberland, Md., and to Hancock, Md., July 4. To Fairview July 11, and to Williamsport, Md., July 14. Operations against Lee till July 28. At Mechanicsburg Gap, near Romney, August 5-November 5, and at Alpine till April, 1864. Bath March 19 Crook’s Expedition against Virginia & Tennessee Railroad May 2-19. Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain May 9. New River Bridge May 10. Cove Mountain or Grassy Lick, near Wytheville, May 10. Salt Pond Mountain and Gap Mountain May 12-13. Meadow Bluff May 19. Hunter’s Expedition to Lynchburg May 26-July 1. Middlebrook and Brownsville June 10. Lexington June 11-12. Otter Creek, near Liberty, June 16. Diamond Hill June 17. Lynchburg June 17-18. Retreat to Charleston June 18-July 1. Buford’s Gap June 20. About Salem June 21. Moved to Shenandoah Valley July 12-15. Snicker’s Ferry or Gap July 17-18. Battle of Kernstown-Winchester July 23-24. Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign August 6-November 28. Berryville September 3. Battle of Opequan, Winchester, September 19. Fisher’s Hill September 22. Skirmish at Cedar Creek October 13. Battle of Cedar Creek October 19. Duty at Camp Russell and in the Shenandoah Valley till December. Moved to Washington, D.C., thence to Bermuda Hundred, Va., December 19-23. Duty in the trenches before Richmond, Va., till March, 1865. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Moved to front of Petersburg March 28-29. Hatcher’s Run March 30-31 and April 1. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Rice’s Station April 6. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. March to Lynchburg April 12-15, thence to Farmville and Burkesville Junction April 15-19, and to Richmond, Va., April 22-25. Duty near Richmond till June. Mustered out June 14, 1865.

[Source: Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, by Frederick Dyer]

LOSSES

Regiment lost during service 3 Officers and 50 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 99 Enlisted men by disease. Total 153.

[Source: Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, by Frederick Dyer]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Egan, Michael. The Flying, Gray-Haired Yank: Or, the Adventures of a Volunteer, a Personal Narrative of Thrilling Experiences as an Army Courier, a Volunteer Captain, a Prisoner of War, a Fugitive from Southern Dungeons, a Guest Among the Contrabands and Unionists…. Phila: Hubbard Bros, 1888. 414 p.

Roster of the 15th West Virginia Infantry [Joy Gilchrist Stalnaker]