"I have never been able to employ
language sufficiently strong to give high enough praise to those
titanic heroes who stood by their
colors with unflinching
courage and devotion, under all the vicissitudes
of outrageous fortune, until
the star of the Confederacy sank
beneath the horizon to rise no more.
No Spartan, no Roman, no
Englishman, no Frenchman, no American ever before
exhibited such sublime heroism.
The names of each, even the humblest,
of men to point out to their children
as the names of the purest patriots,
the most self-sacrificing and
noble men of any in the
history of the world."
-Colonel William C Oates, 15th Alabama
Date of Organization: July 3rdm 1861
Muster Out: April 9, 1865
The Fifteenth Alabama infantry was organized at Fort Mitchell in 1861; served in Virginia in the brigade commanded by Gen. Isaac R. Trimble; was in Stonewall Jackson's army and fought with distinction at Front Royal, May 23, 1862; Winchester, May 25th; Cross Keys, June 8th; Gaines' Mill or Cold Harbor, June 27th and 28th; Malvern Hill, July 1st, and Hazel River, August 22nd.
It fought and lost heavily at Second Manassas, August 30th, and was in the battles of Chantilly, September 1st; Sharpsburg, September 17th; Fredericksburg, December 13th; Suffolk, May, 1863; Gettysburg, July I to 3, 1863.
Ordered to join Bragg's army, the regiment fought at Chickamauga September 19th and 20th; Brown's Ferry, October 27th; Wauhatchie, October :7th; Knoxville, November 17th to December 4th; Bean's Station, December 14th. Returning to Virginia this regiment
upheld its reputation and won further distinction, as shown by its long roll of honor at Fort Harrison. It was engaged at the Wilderness, May 5-7, 1864; Spottsylvania, May 8th to 18th; Hanover Court House, May 30th; and Second Cold Harbor, June 1st to 12th.
It was also engaged before Petersburg and Richmond. At Deep Bottom, August 14th to 18th, one-third of that portion of the regiment engaged were killed.
Among its killed in battle were Capt. R. H. Hill and Lieut. W. B. Mills, at Cross Keys; Captain Weams (mortally wounded), at Gaines' Mill; Capt. P. V. Guerry and Lieut. A. McIntosh, at Cold Harbor; Capts. J. H. Allison and H. C. Brainard, at Gettysburg, and Capt. John C. Oates died of wounds received in the same battle; Capt. Frank Park was killed at Knoxville, Captain Glover at Petersburg, and Capt. B. A. Hill at Fussell's Mill.
Among the other field officers were: Cols. John F. Trentlen, Alexander Lowther, William C. Oates (who was distinguished throughout the war and has since served many years as a member of Congress and also as governor of Alabama); Col. James Cantey, afterward brigadier-general; Lieut.-Col. Isaac B. Feagin and Maj. John W. L. Daniel.
Source: Confederate Military History, vol. VIII, p. 102
The abandoned Fort Mitchell now became a training camp for a new Alabama regiment to be mustered into the state's defense and later attached to the Confederate army.
This regiment was titled the 15th Alabama
Fought on 25 Jul 1862.
Fought on 22 Aug 1862.
Fought on 28 Aug 1862 at 2nd Manassas, VA.
Fought on 1 Jul 1863 at Gettysburg, PA.
Fought on 3 Jul 1863 at Gettysburg, PA.
Fought on 20 Sep 1863 at Chickamauga, GA.
Fought on 25 Nov 1863 at Missionary Ridge, TN.
Fought on 27 Nov 1863 at Knoxville, TN.
Fought on 6 May 1864 at Wilderness, VA.
Fought on 4 Jun 1864 at Cold Harbor, VA.
Fought on 14 Aug 1864 at Petersburg, VA.
Fought on 16 Aug 1864 at Petersburg, VA.
Fought on 17 Aug 1864 at Petersburg, VA.
Fought on 7 Oct 1864 at Darbytown Road, VA
Gettysburg After Action Report
Gettysburg after battle report:
Report of Col. William C. Oates, Fifteenth Alabama Infantry.
August 8, 1863.
Sir: I have the honor to report, in obedience to orders from brigade headquarters, the participation of my regiment in the battle near Gettysburg on the 2d ultimo. My regiment occupied the center of the brigade when the line of battle was formed. During the advance, the two regiments on my right were moved by the left flank across my rear, which threw me on the extreme right of the whole line. I encountered the enemy's sharpshooters posted behind a stone fence, and sustained some loss thereby. It was here that Lieut. Col. Isaac B. Feagin, a most excellent
and gallant officer, received a severe wound in the right knee, which caused him to lose his leg. Privates [A.] Kennedy, of Company B, and [William] Trimner, of Company G, were killed at this
point, and Private [G. E.] Spencer, Company D, severely wounded.
After crossing the fence, I received an order from Brig.-Gen. Law to left-wheel my regiment and move in the direction of the heights upon my left, which order I failed to obey, for the reason
that when I received it I was rapidly advancing up the mountain, and in my front I discovered a heavy force of the enemy. Besides this, there was great difficulty in accomplishing the maneuver at that moment, as the regiment on my left (Forty-seventh Alabama) was crowding me on the left, and running into my regiment, which had already created considerable confusion. In the event that I had obeyed the order, I should have come in contact with the regiment on
my left, and also have exposed my right flank to an enfilading fire from the enemy. I therefore continued to press forward, my right passing over the top of the mountain, on the right of the line.
On reaching the foot of the mountain below, I found the enemy in heavy force, posted in rear of large rocks upon a slight elevation beyond a depression of some 300 yards in width between the base of the mountain and the open plain beyond. I engaged them, my right meeting the left of their line exactly. Here I lost several gallant officers and men.
After firing two or three rounds, I discovered that the enemy were giving way in my front. I ordered a charge, and the enemy in my front fled, but that portion of his line confronting the two companies
on my left held their ground, and continued a most galling fire upon my left.
Just at this moment, I discovered the regiment on my left (Forty-seventh Alabama) retiring. I halted my regiment as its left reached a very large rock, and ordered a left-wheel of the regiment, which was executed in good order under fire, thus taking advantage of a ledge of rocks running off in a line perpendicular to the one I had just abandoned, and affording very good protection to my men. This position enabled me to keep up a constant flank and cross fire upon the enemy, which in less than five minutes caused him to change front. Receiving re-enforcements, he charged me five times, and was as often repulsed with heavy loss. Finally, I discovered that
the enemy had flanked me on the right, and two regiments were moving rapidly upon my rear and not 200 yards distant, when, to save my regiment from capture or destruction, I ordered a retreat.
Having become exhausted from fatigue and the excessive heat of the day, I turned the command of the regiment over to Capt. B. A. Hill, and instructed him to take the men off the field, and reform the regiment and report to the brigade.
My loss was, as near as can now be ascertained, as follows, to wit: 17 killed upon the field, 54 wounded and brought off the field, and 90 missing, most of whom are either killed or wounded. Among the killed and wounded are 8 officers, most of whom were very gallant and efficient men.
Recapitulation.--Killed, 17; wounded, 54; missing, 90; total, 161.
I am, lieutenant, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. C. OATES,
Col., Comdg. Fifteenth Alabama Regt.
Lieut. B. O. Peterson,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
Source: Official Records: Series I. Vol. 27. Part II. Reports. Serial No. 44
Quotes from the Men
One soldier noted, "The spirit of devotion to our Southland bound us together as comrades in a holy cause."
Another wrote, "[We] are struggling for the same principles which fired the hearts of our ancestors in the revolutionary struggle."
A young private in the ranks also spoke of why hundreds of young boys and a few old crows rallied to banner of a new country, "I am willing to fall for the cause of liberty and independence."
William C Oates would later write of the cause, "The Union was a voluntary one, and that it was no longer a safeguard and protection, but a menace to their rights, resolved to withdraw from it and form another union, in which it was believed there would be peace, harmony, and security of rights resulting from homogeneity of interests."
Private Barnett of G Company pinned, "We have the finest looking company in the regiment, and have the praise of being the best drill company in the manual of arms."
Poem by Pvt. Brannon. 15th Alabama
"In spirit we go back today
When all of us were young and strong;
When we were proud to wear the gray,
Opposed to what we thought was wrong;
When every man stood at his post,
To do, to dare, to obey-
To prove he loved his country most,
Resigned to give his life away.
The weary march, who can forget-
so tired, hungry, sleepy, too;
Trudging along in cold and wet,
trying to find those men in blue.
But after all, we now delight
to bring once more to memory's door
the beating drum, the march, the fight,
and comrades brave who've gone before;
The cannon's boom, the screeching shell,
the fierce contention on the field,
The bayonet and the rebel yell
before which everything would yield.
In silent graves, where now do sleep,
The cold remains of those who died;
where memory shall her vigils keep
while truth and honor shall abide.
The Southern soldier has no cause
to be ashamed of anything.
The world may now withhold applause,
But unborn poets yet shall sing
in glowing language of his name,
Will tell the story of his past,
Will write it on the scroll of fame
To live as long as time shall last.
My dear, beloved soldier friends,
we soon shall hear the last tattoo
which time shall beat as it descends
To hide us all from mortal view.
But there's a land I hope we'll see,
Where there's no sorrow, and no wars;
Where there's an endless reveille
which angels sing beyond the stars.
Good-bye, once more, a last good-bye;
Together here no more we'll meet.
Our friendship, though, shall never die-
a soldier's love knows no deceit.
There is a bond as strong as steel
that binds us as the day to night;
That is, that we shall always feel
that we did was for the right."
-Private Brannon 1902