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15th Regiment Virginia Volunteer Cavalry
Original Regimental History
On September 11, 1862 the career of the 15th Virginia Cavalry was begun. The Regiment was composed of the consolidated 14th and 15th Virginia Battalions. The independent companies of Captain Norfleet and Captain Gantt were also included. W.B. Ball was appointed commander of the new 15th Virginia Cavalry. Because the four independent commands were widely separated at the time of formation, it was not until much later that the regiment operated effectively. Consequently, the 15th Virginia Cavalry was not engaged in the Maryland Campaign of 1862.
The first major encounter occurred at Falmouth, Virginia on November 17, 1862. Colonel Ball's regiment, reinforced by a four-gun battery and some infantry withstood the combined attacks of Sumner's entire wing of Burnside's army. Throughout the day, 700 men held their ground until, finally toward sunset, the enemy ended attempts to cross the Rappahannock River. For another three weeks, the Federals were held at bay by Ball's forces while General R.E. Lee's main army arrived to take up defensive positions west of Fredericksburg. Here the 15th Virginia Cavalry served as part of W.H.F. Lee's cavalry brigade.
The following spring, the regiment served as dismounted cavalry with Wilcox's brigade in the second battle of Fredericksburg. They also served in the Chancellorsville Campaign. Temporarily placed under Major Collin's command, the 15th Virginia Cavalry fought as skirmishers and as a rear guard in a severe fight on May 3, near Salem Church.
No further campaigning occurred until the cavalry campaign around Bristoe Station in October 1863. Under the command of Major Collins, the regiment served gallantly in the battle of Fleetwood Hill. To attack the Federal positions on the hill, General J.E.B. Stuart sent the 5th, 6th and 15th Virginia Cavalry Regiments. Six sabre charges were directed against the Union center. In the last charge, the cavalry regiments finally broke through, driving back a Union force much larger than their own. This action secured the victory. In the campaigns against Sheridan's cavalry in the spring of 1864, the 15th Virginia Cavalry served actively. They distinguished themselves in battles occurring at Trevilian Station, The Wilderness, and Yellow Tavern.
Transferred to General Early's Army of the Valley District in August 1864, the regiment saw heavy fighting in the battle of Winchester. Throughout the day of September 19, the 15th Virginia Cavalry retired slowly under determined advances and heavy fire of the Federal forces. The 15th Virginia Cavalry inflicted more damage to the enemy force then they received.
The 15th Virginia Cavalry went on to serve in the battle of Cedar Creek in October 1864. From November 1864 through January 1865 the 15th Virginia Cavalry served under General Rosser. During this time, they participated in General Rosser's famous raid of the upper Shenandoah Valley.
Due to continuous depletion of their ranks, the operations of the 15th Virginia Cavalry were terminated. The remaining troopers were consolidated with the 5th Virginia Cavalry.
Throughout the tumultuous career of Company C of the 15th Regiment Virginia Cavalry, their battle flag (pictured above) was never captured or surrendered. Of the 440 men who answered the roll call of 1862, at least 410 had been lost in over 100 battles throughout the state of Virginia. Their graves, marked and unmarked, are their eloquent histories.
The reactivated 15th Virginia Cavalry was formed in 1959. They began their roster with 20 members. The 15th Virginia Cavalry holds the distinction of being the first North-South Skirmish Association (N-SSA) Confederate team north of the Mason-Dixon line and holds seniority number 49.
The uniforms of the 15th Virginia Cavalry are varied in appearance to reflect the various company composition of the original regiment. The 15th Virginia Cavalry was one of the first N-SSA regiments to adopt this varied appearance. The regiment developed its skill in original Civil War period drill exercises by at first using Civil Was infantry rifle drill. This was then changed and the regiment began performing authentic sabre drill to reflect it's true branch of service. These tactics have earned the regiment many awards, including the Military Bearing Award at Greenfield Village seven times.
The reactivated 15th Virginia Cavalry competes in several shooting competitions. These include Musket, Pistol, Smoothbore, and Mortar. The mortar competition is an aspect new to the 15th and has generated much interest. The regiment has two mortars and has placed in the top 5 positions at the N-SSA nationals four times in the last few years. In addition, the regiment's two mortars have won first place on several occasions in the Northwest Territory matches.
In order to preserve our American Heritage, the regiment participates in several local events. This ranges from speaking at local schools to participating at local museum's "Civil War Days."
The reactivated 15th Virginia Cavalry has members from many different walks of life, much as the original regiment had. At a recent match, we had three father-son shooters from the regiment that earned a second place medal in our division on Father's Day. We encourage shooters that have little or no experience shooting black powder to join us and we make an effort to help them learn what a great sport we have. Membership is open to anyone 15 years or older, men or women. The reactivated regiment is based in southeast Michigan, although we do have members in the western part of the state as well. We are part of the N-SSA Northwest Territory, have a proud history we are trying to keep alive, and plan to be in existence for many years to come.
The 15th Virginia Cavalry also participates in the American Civil War Shooting Association (ACWSA).