Thursday, June 6, 2013
The 15th Alabama was formed in May 1861 originally under the command of James Cantey, but later was taken over by the aggressive William C. Oates in 1863 until he himself was replaced by Alexander A. Lowther in 1864 through political manoeuvres. It comprised 10 companies to include Cantey's Rifles, Fort Browder Roughs, and Henry Pioneers to name a few. Ages ranged from 13 to 70 believe it or not! Although the vast majority were likely late teens and twenties one would have to suppose.
They fought in almost all the major engagements of the Army of Northern Virginia to include The Valley Campaign, First and second Manasas(Bull Run), Seven Pines, First Cold Harbor, Malvern Hill, Boonesboro, Sharpesburg(Antietam), Fredricksburg, Suffolk campaign, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, Knoxville, Wilderness, Spottslyvania, Hanover Junction, 2nd Cold Harbor, Siege of Petersburg, plus many others. However, probably the most important was the great snowball fight on January 29, 1863 between several regiments of the ANV(around 9,000 participated!). That must have been a sight to see!
Out of 1958 men listed on the regimental rolls throughout the conflict, 261 are known to have fallen in battle, with sources listing an additional 416 deaths due to disease , 218 were captured (46 died), 66 deserted and 61 were transferred or discharged. By the end of the war, only 170 men remained in the regiment.
An interesting bit for you Gettysburg fans in that this is the confederate regiment that opposed the 20th Maine on Little Round Top on July 2nd 1863. All the praise and spotlight has gone to the 20th Maine for their heroic stand on Little Round Top led by an equally heroic Col. Chamberlain and rightly so as they did save the union army that day I believe, however in fairness the 15th Alabama should be admired for their efforts as well. Bear in mind by the time the 15th reached the Little Round Top they had marched 20 miles in searing July heat fighting some skirmishes and sniper fire with canteens empty by this time and quite exhausted. They were thrown into the assault without a pause to fill their empty canteens up a rocky hill versus a fresh enemy dug in at the crest. They attacked not once, but five gut wrenching times before Oates ordered a retreat seeing how his men were in no condition to conduct a sixth attack. Unfortunately for the 15th this was exactly at the same time Chamberlain ordered his famous counter attack when out of ammo and caused the 15th to break. I take nothing away from either regiment and believe both fought like old angry mules and should be applauded for their bravery and commitment.
Another interesting fact was that while Chamberlain and Oats(the 15th's commander at Gettysburg) were amiable to each other after the war as both respected the other, they did however exchange some heated letters years latter as to how far the 15th got up the hill. The 20th Maine has a monument on Little Round Top which they should and Oats wanted to place one for the 15th and Chamberlain didn't object as he was an honourable fellow. However, because they could not agree as to how far up the hill the 15th reached a monument was never placed for the them on the Little Round Top. The veterans of the 15th made their own stone pile monument on the top of the hill, but Chamberlain had it removed finding it inappropriate to the memory of the men of the 20th Maine who died ensuring the summit was never taken. It just goes to show you the pride men felt on both sides about the deeds and sacrifices they went through.
Thanks for viewing!:-)
Miniature Company- Sash and Saber