The 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry

The 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment
By: James B. Clary

The 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry was the fifth and last of the regiments formed to meet the quota of 3,000 new troops assigned to South Carolina by the confederate government following the battle of 1st Manassas.

The regiment drew some men from the 1st SCVI 6 months regiment that disbanded in South Carolina.

The regiment mustered into CSA service at Lightwood Knot Springs for the duration in September 1861.

FIELD AND STAFF Colonels -DeSaussure, W. D. 9/19/61 KIA Gettysburg 7/2/63 - Davis, John B. 1/19/64 Surrendered 4/26/65

Lt.Cols.-Anderson, Richard 9/10/61 DOD 10/18/61 -Gist, J.F. 7/2/63 Disabled 2/5/64 -Lewie, F.S. 1/5/64 to near the end

Majors -Gist, J.F. 9/10/61 Promoted 10/19/61 -Gist, W.M. 12/14/61 KIA 11/18/63 -Lewie, Frederick Sims - 11/18/63 Promoted 1/5/64

Adjutant- Davis, J.M. Asst. QM- Middleton, J.S. Commy. Sgt.- Kirkland, J.M. Surgeon- James, J.A. Asst. Surg.- Wallace, A. Chaplain - MoCullum, H.B. Sgt.Major- Giles, C.H. QM Sgt.- Price, J.R. Ord. Sgt.- Boyd, R.W. Hos. Stwd.- Maurice, R.F.


A- Cpt. Radcliffe, T. W. Columbia Rifles

B- Cpt. Gist, William M. Gist Guards

C- Cpt. Lewie, Frederick Sims Lexington Guards

D- Cpt. Warrren, Thomas J. Kershaw Guards

E- Cpt. Davis, John Bunyon Monticello Guards

F- Cpt. Boyd, Charles W. Thicketty Rifles

G- Cpt. Chandler, Joseph B. Williamsburg Riflemen

H- Cpt. Sims, William H. Mount Tabor Company

I- Cpt. Koon, John H. Dutch Fork Guards

K- Cpt. Bird, Holloway I. Dorn's Invincibles

BIBLIOGRAPHY History of Kershaw's Brigade- D.A. Dickert, History of Fairfield County- F.A. McMaster, Annals of Newberry- O'Neal & Chapman, History of Williamsburg- W.W. Boddie Historic Camden- Kirkland & Kennedy, National Archives Microfilm Roll * M861-0047, Broken Fortunes by Randolph Kirkland, A History of the 15th South Carolina Infantry:1861-1865 by James B. Clary (To be published)

A Brief Overview of the 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment

The 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment mustered into Confederate service in September 1861, at Lightwood Knot Springs near Columbia. They had their baptism by fire at Fort Wagner on Hilton Head Island during the battle of Port Royal Sound on November 6, 1861.

In July 1862, the 15th South Carolina was sent to Virginia in Brigadier Thomas Drayton's Brigade. Drayton's Brigade was assigned to Major General David R. Jones' Division of Major General James Longstreet's wing of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. They fought under Drayton at Second Manassas, South Mountain and Sharpsburg.

General Robert E. Lee transferred the 15th South Carolina to Kershaw's Brigade after the battle of Sharpsburg. In Kershaw's Brigade, they fought at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. After the battle of Gettysburg, the 15th South Carolina and the rest of Kershaw's Brigade accompanied General James Longstreet to North Georgia and East Tennessee where they fought in the battles of Chicamauga, Knoxville, and Bean's Station.

Following the winter of 1864-65, Kershaw's men rejoined Lee's Army of Northern Virginia just in time to particpate in the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna, Cold Harbor and the siege of Petersburg, including the significant battle of First Deep Bottom near Richmond in late July 1864.

While at Petersburg in August 1864, Kershaw's Brigade and the 15th South Carolina was assigned to General Jubal Early's Army of the Shenandoah Valley. Here they fought against General Phillip Sheridan's army at Hupp's Hill and Cedar Creek, before returning to Petersburg in November 1864

In early January 1865, General Lee sent Kershaw's Brigade back to the Palmetto State to oppose General William Techumsah Sherman who had begun to move into South Carolina following his famous " march to the sea " from Atlanta to Savannah in late 1864. Kershaw's Brigade first met Sherman's Army on the Salkehatchie River in the South Carolina low country in late January 1865. The 15th South Carolina was one of the last Confederate units to evacuate Charleston on February 18, 1865. Along with the rest of Kershaw's Brigade, they fought Sherman's army in the last battles of the war at Averasboro and Bentonville, North Carolina under General Joseph E. Johnston in the Army of Tennessee. Before surrendering at Greensboro on april 26, 1865, the 15th South Carolina and Kershaw's Brigade under Brigadier General John Doby Kennedy, served as the last Confederate provost guard of the Army of Tennessee. They were responsible for guarding the remaining Southern munitions and food stores at the Greensboro railroad depot during the surrender process. The men of the 15th South Carolina participated in changing of the guard cermony with the 104th Ohio Infantry as they turned the remaining Confederate supplies in Greensboro over to Sherman's Army on May 3, 1863.

Evacuation of Confederate Forces from Charleston in 1865

From - A History of the 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry: 1861-65

By - James B. Clary
232 Beachers Brook Lane
Cary, North Carolina 27511 Email - jclary@adsrtp.com (New address as of Sept. 1999

Following his famous "March to the Sea" in late 1864, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman turned his Union army away from Georgia and toward South Carolina where the Confederacy had been born almost exactly four years earlier. By early February 1865, having been re-supplied at Savannah by the Union Navy, General Sherman�s army successfully crossed the Savannah river from Georgia into South Carolina and was ready to once again go on the offensive. Sherman�s plan called for keeping the modest Confederates forces under Lieutenant General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard as confused as possible with regard to whether his vast army would march toward Columbia or Charleston.

Beauregard�s troops opposing Sherman in the South Carolina Low Country were under the command of Lt. General William J. Hardee who had been transferred to South Carolina from the Army of Tennessee. General Hardee, known as "Old Reliable," commanded approximately 12 thousand effectives consisting of mostly untested coastal artillerymen and garrison troops. To augment this scratch force, General Robert E. Lee, whose Army of Northern Virginia was under siege by General U. S. Grant�s forces at Petersburg, Virginia, sent Hardee a brigade of veteran South Carolina infantrymen. This veteran brigade of Lee�s Army had been known throughout the War as "Kershaw�s Brigade," in honor of its original commander, Brigadier General Joseph Brevard Kershaw from Camden, South Carolina. In 1865, Kershaw�s old brigade was commanded by Brigadier General John Doby Kennedy, also, of Camden.

Kershaw�s brigade, left Petersburg on January 4, 1865, and went first to Branchville, South Carolina and then to Charleston. This veteran brigade was made up entirely of regiments from South Carolina. These were the 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 15th and 20th infantry regiments and the 3rd infantry battalion. The 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry regiment, until the battle of Gettysburg, was commanded by Colonel William Davie DeSaussure. The 15th SCVI regiment had first became known to Gen. Lee when Lee took command of the Confederate forces in South Carolina on December 8, 1861 immediately following the battle of Port Royal in which the 15th was engaged.

Once back in South Carolina, Kershaw�s veterans were placed under the command of Major General Lafayette McLaws. The men of Kershaw�s brigade were glad to serve once again under General McLaws who had been their commanding officer when he headed a division in General James Longstreet�s First Army Corps of Lee�s Army of Northern Virginia. Although Longstreet and McLaws were West Point classmates and had been good friends, they had parted ways when Longstreet had McLaws court martialed for alleged incompetence while two divisions of the First Corps were in East Tennessee. Following his court martial, General McLaws had been assigned duty with the Confederate Army in Augusta, Georgia.

Kershaw�s veteran brigade of South Carolinians had seen service in the major battles of the Army of Northern Virginia including Sharpsburg, Maryland, Fredericksburg, Virginia and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In addition, Kershaw�s South Carolina brigade had been with Lt. General James Longstreet in the battles of Chicamauga, Ga. and Knoxville, Tennessee in late 1863. Returning to Virginia following their service with the Army of Tennessee, Kershaw�s brigade was generally given credit for saving Lee�s army at the Battle of the Wilderness on May 6 and again at Spotsylvania Court House on May 8 in 1864 during Grant�s Overland campaign to capture the Confederate Capital of Richmond. After serving with Major General Jubal Early�s army in the Shenandoah Valley during the Fall of 1864, Kershaw�s brigade returned to the trenches around Petersburg.

By February 2, Sherman�s entire army of 60 thousand men had crossed the Savannah River. McLaw�s troops, including Kershaw�s brigade was driven from the Salkehatchie River on February 8. Under General Kennedy, Kershaw�s brigade returned to Charleston on the Charleston and Savannah railroad. The first night the brigade was back in the city, hundreds of barrels of whiskey were rolled out in the street. The barrel heads were knocked out and the whiskey which was not "confiscated" by the soldiers was allowed to run in the streets to keep it from falling into the hands of the enemy.

With parts of Sherman�s Army headed their way, Kershaw�s brigade took the cars of the South Carolina Railroad to George�s Station [Now St. George, SC ] and then marched toward Walterboro until they reached the bridge across the Edisto River. From there, the brigade returned to Charleston. By February 11, 1865, the Yankees had driven in the Confederate pickets on James Island, south of Charleston. An additional eighteen Union steamers were spotted off the bar at Charleston and 16 transports were seen in Bull�s Bay, north of Charleston. After 4 years of being under siege, Union sea and land forces were closing in on Charleston.

General W. J. Hardee wrote on Feb 12, "I have just returned from Orangeburg and Branchville. It is believed the enemy is in heavy force between the Capler [Cipher] and South Fork of Edisto, near Orangeburg and about it. It is not certain whether enemy intend going to Columbia or to Charleston. Enemy not in force near Branchville or below. All quiet on water front this morning."

On February 15, with Sherman�s army in heavy force near Orangeburg and concerned that the Northeastern Railroad leading from Charleston to Florence and Cheraw would be cut, Gen. Beauregard ordered Gen. Hardee to evacuate Charleston. Gen. Hardee being temporarily ill, the responsibility for evacuating what was left of the Confederate army from Charleston fell to Gen. McLaws.

On the night of the 17th and morning of the 18th, Charleston was evacuated. Gen. McLaws issued the following orders from General Beauregard: "One brigade of Wright�s Division, in St. Paul�s Parish, to move by railroad to Monk�s Corner, then march by Sandy Run to the Santee; the other portion of Wright�s Division to move by Summerville to St. Stephens. The troops in Christ Church Parish to go by steamer to St. Stephens. The troops from James Island to move out by Ashley�s Ferry and follow the Northeastern railroad, to be followed in turn by all the troops in the city. McLaws was to withdraw from Sherman�s front at Branchville and follow on to St. Stephens."

It was during the last phases of the evacuation of the Confederate Army from Charleston, that a terrible tragedy befell the civilian population. Lt. Moses Lipscomb Wood, (see image at left) of Company F, the 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry regiment, "The Thicketty Rifles" reported in his "War Record": "I was in Charleston on the night before and the morning it was evacuated, and was put in charge of a detail of about 75 men to load what cars [of the Northeastern Railroad] we could ahead of us. We had not been out of the depot long before the women and children rushed in to see what they could get. The depot was filled with powder and explosives and caught on fire and was blown up"causing the most pitiful sight I saw during the war. Women and children, about 250 , were killed and wounded, and some were carried out by where [we]were in line on the streets, with their clothing burned off and badly mutilated."

A week later, The Fayetteville Telegraph stated that "an officer who arrived here direct from SC last night gives us some interesting items concerning the evacuation of Charleston. The evacuation took place on Friday night [February 17], and the city was occupied by about 500 Yankees who landed in small boats about 12 o�clock on Saturday. All the cotton (some 6,000 bales) and the shipping was destroyed, and the guns spiked by the military authorities. The city is now but little more than a heap of ruins. When the Yankees entered, nearly half of it [Charleston] was in ashes and a terrible fire was still raging. The fire originated in two ways. A quantity of damaged powder had been left at the depot of the Northeastern Railroad Company, among a number of other articles. A crowd of negroes and citizens of the lower class had assembled for the purpose of pillage. While there, a boy in sport fired a small quantity of loose powder, which, communicating with that in the boxes, ignited the whole, causing a terrible explosion, with considerable loss of life. The immense depot building was blown to atoms, and the fire spread rapidly to the adjoining houses. It burned with great rapidity, and extended as far up on King street as the Soldiers Home. About the same time a fire broke out in another portion of the city, caused by the burning of the Savannah bridge [over the Ashley River]. This fire was also very destructive, and the two combined extended from river to river. Numerous other fires also occurred in different parts of the city, said to have been the work of the citizens themselves. All this occurred before the occupation of the city by the Yankees. Our forces under Gen. Hardee have gone in the right direction. It is not permissible to state where they are, but they will be found where they are most needed."

General Hardee reported on Sunday, Feb 19 from Kingstree that "Charleston was successfully evacuated Friday night and Saturday morning."

All the troops under Gen. McLaws, at Four Hole Swamp, and along the coast were to rendezvous at St. Stephen�s on the Santee. Although some of Hardee�s troops got to ride the trains out of Charleston, most of them had to march 40 miles to St. Stephen�s Depot. With feet hurting, the exhausted soldiers began arriving at St. Stephen�s on February 20. Lt. Col. Thomas B. Roy, Gen. Hardee�s adjutant, noted "a great many desertions from the command on the march from Charleston. Some artillery companies almost disbanded by desertions." The hope was that Hardee�s small army could make a junction with the Army of Tennessee in front of Sherman at Chester, SC, or, if that was not possible, to continue to Chesterfield or Cheraw.

The first trainload of Hardee�s troops of McLaws� division, arrived at Kingstree in Williamsburg County on the afternoon of February 21. The temptation to desert the Confederate army as they neared their homes must have been particularly great for the men of the 15th South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment�s Company G, the "Williamsburg Rifles." This company had been originally organized by Captain Joseph B. Chandler at Indian Town in Williamsburg County in the early Fall of 1861.

President Jefferson Davis wrote the following to Gen. Beauregard (Image - right) on February 22: "I have directed Gen. J. E. Johnston to assume command of the Southern Army and you to duty with him. Together, I feel assured you will beat back Sherman." That same day, McLaws� troops took the cars of the Northeastern Railroad as far as Florence, and arrived at Cheraw the following day. The trains carrying McLaws� troops were crowded to overflowing, and some of the men from Kershaw�s old brigade "spent a miserable night riding on top of the cars in a driving rain."

From Cheraw, South Carolina, Kershaw�s men marched into North Carolina where they fought with Sherman�s army at Averysboro and Bentonville. Kershaw�s old brigade was surrendered as part of the Army of Tennessee by General Joseph E. Johnston to General William Tecumseh Sherman on April 26, 1865 at Bennett�s farm house near Durham, North Carolina.