15th U. S. Colored Infantry Regiment

Organized in Tennessee latter part of 1863.


  • Colonel-Thomas J. Downey
  • Lieutenant Colonel-Cyrus F. Jackson
  • Major-George T. Armstrong

Colonel R. D. Mussey, Commissioner for the Organization of Colored Troops, in a report dated October 10, 1864, stated that organization of this regiment was begun at Shelbyville, Tennessee in September, 1863, soon after the battle of Chickamauga; in March, 1864 it reported to Lieutenant Colonel J. L. Donaldson, Chief Quartermaster for the Department of the Cumberland, at Nashville, for duty in his department.

On April 30, 1864, with Colonel Thomas J. Downey in command, it was reported in the District of Nashville, Post of Nashville, under Brigadier General R. S. Granger. On June 15, Col. Donaldson wrote Major General W. T. Sherman: “Captain Mussey informs me that General Lorenzo Thomas has ordered the 15th and 17th Colored Regiments to Bowling Green. These regiments are here on fatigue duty under my orders, and I cannot possibly spare them. Please countermand the order or I shall be paralyzed; as it is, I am struggling to keep my head above water.” What the result of this appeal was is not known, as the next record of the regiment found Colonel Downey in command at Springfield, Tennessee, on August 31, with the 15th, under the command of Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Cyrus F. Jackson, as the only regiment stationed there. Colonel Mussey stated that in September or October, 1864, some recruits from Ohio were assigned to the regiment.

The regiment continued to be reported at Springfield until April 1865; at first under Lieutenant Colonel Jackson, later under Captain (later Major) George T. Armstrong. Reports indicate that during this period it did guard duty on the Edgefield and Kentucky (now Louisville and Nashville) Railroad. On December 23, 1864, Brevet Brigadier General I. L. Donaldson was authorized to withdraw a portion of the 15th from the Edgefield and Kentucky Railroad for duty in Nashville.

No reports of the effective strength of the regiment were found. The closest thing to such a report was in a letter from Major General George H. Thomas to General Sherman, dated October 21, 1864, in which he stated that the 15th and 17th, about 1200 strong, were guarding the Commissary Depots in the Nashville District.

On February 28, 1865, the regiment was still reported at Springfield, with Captain Fielding L. Davies in command. On March 8, Colonel A. A. Smith, at Clarksville, was ordered to relieve that portion of the 15th from duty on the Edgefield and Kentucky Railroad between Clarksville and Bowling Green Junction, so that the guards between Springfield and Bowling Green Junction could be strengthened. On April 14, 1865, the regiment was relieved from duty on the railroad and ordered to report to Brevet Brigadier General J. L. Donaldson at Nashville.

On August 20, Major General George H. Thomas reported that the 15th was still on duty at Nashville, guarding public property, and added: “They had better remain here, as they now know what is expected of them, and are becoming reliable.”

Dyer’s Compendium states that the regiment remained in Middle Tennessee until mustered out of service on April 7, 1866.

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