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15th Infantry Regiment
15 Infantry Regiment COA.jpg
Coat of arms
Active 1861 – present
Country United States United States of America
Branch  United States Army United States Army seal
Type Infantry USA - Army Infantry Insignia.png
Role Mechanized infantry (1st Battalion)
Light infantry (3rd Battalion)
Garrison/HQ Fort Benning (1-15 IN)
Fort Stewart (3-15 IN)
Nickname(s) The Old China Hands
Motto(s) "Can Do"
Mascot(s) Dragon
Engagements American Civil War
Indian Wars
Spanish-American War
Boxer Rebellion
Philippine Insurrection
World War II
Korean War
Gulf War
Iraq War
War in Afghanistan
Lt. Col. Joel Smith
Matthew Ridgeway
George C. Marshall
Richard G. Stilwell
Distinctive unit insignia 15 Inf Regt DUI.jpg

The 15th United States Infantry Regiment is a parent regiment in the United States Army. It has a lineage tracing back to the American Civil War, having participated in many battles.

Distinctive unit insignia and coat of arms

The Shield is of white and blue, the old and the new colors of the Infantry. The Red Acorn was the badge of XIV Army Corps under which the 15th Infantry fought during the Civil war. The acorn is repeated four times to commemorate the four major engagements in which the regiment participated: Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. The rock denotes the fact that the regiment was under the Command of General George Henry Thomas for the battle in which he earned his famous sobriquet: "The Rock of Chickamauga". The Chinese dragon, in gold metal, is indicative of the regiment's service in China during the Boxer Rebellion from 1900 to 1938, of which the period after 1912 was continuous. The sunburst, triangle, and devices atop the coat of arms is symbolic of the Katipunan flag of the Philippine Insurrection.

Coat of Arms. The coat of arms was approved on 30 April 1923. It was amended to correct the blazon of the shield and crest on 14 July 1924.

Previous 15th Regiments

The official Army history and lineage does not credit the current 15th Infantry with the honors or lineage of these earlier regiments.

The first 15th Infantry in the U.S. Army was organized on 16 July 1798 for the "Quasi-War" with France. The regiment saw no war service and was deactivated in 1800. A second 15th Infantry was activated in 1812 for service in Canada during the War of 1812. The 15th fought in the capture of Toronto and Fort George in April and May 1813, and covered the retreat of militia troops from Fort George in December 1813. It was during this retreat that the 15th earned a reputation for not losing a single man through capture, despite taking heavy casualties. The 15th fought in the Champlain Valley campaign in autumn 1814, and participated in General Dearborn's offensive in Ontario in October, and took part in many smaller battles that same year. the regiment vanished in the Army reorganization of 1815.

On 11 February 1847, a new 15th Infantry was activated for service in Mexico. As companies of the 15th arrived at Vera Cruz, they moved inland to join General Winfield Scott's army advancing on Mexico City. The regiment fought with distinction in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, as well as smaller engagements before storming the walls of Chapultepec in Mexico City itself. Following garrison duty in Mexico City and Cuernavaca, the regiment returned to the United States for deactivation in August 1848.


Civil War

The current 15th Infantry was activated[1] during the Civil War on 3 May 1861 by General Order No. 33[2][3] with its headquarters first in Wheeling,[4] West Virginia then Cleveland, Ohio, then on to Newport Barracks, Kentucky and finally ending up in Fort Adams, Rhode Island.[5] At the Battle of Shiloh on 7 April 1862, the 15th Infantry earned the distinction of being the first new infantry regiment to engage in battle in the Civil War.[6] In April–May 1862, the regiment marched toward and fought in the First Battle of Corinth, Mississippi. By the end of the Civil War, the regiment had fought in 22 major engagements, including Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Murfreesboro, and Atlanta as a part of BG King's Brigade of Johnston's Division, XIV Army Corps of the Army of the Cumberland.[7] The regiment was a key element of the only Regular Brigade in Sherman's Army. The regiment's crest includes the acorn, the symbol of the Major General George Thomas's XIV Corps, and the mountains of stone to symbolize the Corps' firm stand as the "Rock of Chickamauga". The four acorns represent the four major engagements.

Post War

Following the Civil War, the 15th Infantry served on occupation duty in Alabama until 1869. The regiment redeployed to the West, serving in Missouri, New Mexico, the Dakotas, and Colorado. The regiment remained in New Mexico for a little over 12 years. At the end of that time, the headquarters and six companies were sent to Ft. Lewis,[8] Colorado; three companies to Fort Lyon,[9] Colorado; with one company remaining in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1879 and 1880 the regiment was deeply involved in operations against the Mimbres Apaches under the warrior Victorio in New Mexico and received a campaign streamer for those operations.

In October and November 1882, the regiment was transferred to the Department of Dakota: Headquarters, A, C, D, and H Companies took station at Fort Randall, South Dakota; B and I Companies at Pembina, North Dakota; G and K Companies at Fort Lincoln,[10] North Dakota; E and F Companies at Fort Stevenson, North Dakota.

Indian Wars

The 15th participated in campaigns against the Ute Tribe of Colorado and against the Mescalero Apaches. In May 1890, four companies proceeded to new posts in the Department of the East: A and G Companies moved to Mount Vernon Barracks, Alabama; D Company to Fort Barrancas, Florida; and K Company to Jackson Barracks,[11] Louisiana. In July 1890 Companies I and K were skeletonized. Also in July, the headquarters and the five companies remaining in the Department of Dakota were assigned to Fort Sheridan,[12] Illinois. In August, Companies E and H proceeded to Fort Sheridan. The regimental headquarters moved to Fort Sheridan in January 1891. The remaining companies from Dakota and the companies serving in the South completed their moves in May 1891. The final reconsolidation of all 15th Infantry companies after 12 years of being scattered throughout the West and South was concluded on 29 May 1891. While at Fort Sheridan the regiment played a vital role in containing the Chicago Railway Riots in July 1894.

The regiment remained as part of the Department of the Missouri until 15 October 1896, then served in the Department of Colorado from 19 October 1896 to 6 October 1898.

Spanish-American War

With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, the regiment moved to Huntsville, Alabama,[13] on 12 October for intensive training. On 27 November 1898, it sailed from Savannah, Georgia for Nuevitas, Cuba, for occupation duty. On 5 January 1900, the regiment sailed home to be posted throughout upper New York State and Vermont.

Boxer Rebellion

The regimental headquarters, band, and First Battalion arrived in San Francisco on 16 July 1900. They immediately boarded the Transport Sumner and sailed for Nagasaki, Japan on 17 July. Later in July, Companies I, K, and L left their stations for San Francisco and went into camp at the Presidio. M Company also came from Fort McPherson at the same time. The First Battalion arrived at Nagasaki on 10 August. There they transferred to the Transport Indiana, and sailed for Tientsin via Taku on 13 August. The Battalion arrived off of the Taku forts (already captured by the allies) on 16 August. During the latter part of the month, the Battalion reconnoitered and skirmished continuously over the same terrain where the 9th Infantry had lost 100 men killed in action (including their Regimental Commander, Colonel Liscum). Despite the fact that the Boxers had been dispersed several months before, numerous small bands of fanatics were still operating in the country.

About 1 September, Companies A, B, and D were assigned the duty of escorting junks carrying supplies up the Pei Ho River to Peking. After completing this mission, Company C took station at Tientsin Arsenal on 6 September, while A Company occupied Tongku on 22 September. Through the latter part of November the Battalion was engaged in almost daily expeditions against small bands of Boxers lurking in nearby villages. On 25 November the First Battalion was relieved from duty with the China Relief Expedition and on 28 November arrived at Tongku. There it boarded the Transport Rosecrans and arrived at Nagasaki on 4 December, then continuing on to Manila, arriving on 13 December.

After lying at anchor in Manila Bay for eight days, the regiment sailed for Legaspi in the Province of Albay. On 24 December, Headquarters, the Band, and C and D Companies disembarked and took station at Legaspi. The transport continued to Tobacco, Albay, where B Company disembarked. Company A continued on to arrive at Mauban on 29 December. From then until 7 November 1901, the company conducted patrols to track the movement of the insurgent General Cailles. On 7 November, A Company moved to Bulan, Sorsogon and remained there until 28 December. It then moved on to the town of Sorsogon, in Sorsogon Province. It departed there on 5 March 1902 and arrived at Santa Elena, Samar on 11 March.

Company B remained at Tobacco until 30 July 1901, conducting patrols throughout that period. On 30 July B Company proceeded to the Island of Catanduanes. After five months of heavy scout work the company left for San Jose de Lagamoy, where it was engaged in tracking down bands of headhunters. On 31 July 1902 B Company returned to the regiment. C Company remained at Legaspi until 28 January 1902, when it left for the Island of Catanduanes. During the period 18 April to 31 July the company successively garrisoned Tabaco, Gubat, Santa Rita, Tones Island, Quentigean Island, and Balangigo. On 31 July it proceeded to Catbalogan and joined the regiment which was preparing to return to the United States. D Company remained on duty at Legaspi. Between 14 April and 31 July 1902 the company occupied Nueva Cacera (now Naga), Sorsogon, Bulan, and Point Binatao. On 31 July it left for the regimental assembly point at Catbalogan.

By April 1902, the balance of the regiment joined the 3rd Battalion in the Philippines and saw considerable action against the insurgents. The 2nd Battalion, which had remained in New York, did not appear in the Philippines until February 1902, just in time to turn around and return with its outfit in September to the United States.[14]:10 In September 1902 the regiment sailed for Monterey, California, where it built the current Presidio.

The record of the next three years is uneventful, but it shows that the Fifteenth kept itself in good shape. The unit was outstanding in the Army's rifle competition, placing seven men on the team of ten men from the Pacific Division in the annual competition in 1905.

In November 1905, the regiment was posted to Mindanao in the Philippines. When the 15th returned to the U.S. in 1907, it was assigned to Fort Douglas, Utah. After 1907 the next change of station did not come for four years, but when it did come the 15th Infantry left the United States for twenty-six years. Before this removal, the regiment distinguished itself further in rifle competition. Its entrants won first, second and fourth honors in the individual competition, and five of its six contestants made the ten-man Army Rifle Team. This showing seems all the finer when it is known that the hitches of 500 men had expired during 1908, and that green recruits had filled the regiment at its home station in Utah and took part in a banquet given in their honor by the officers.[14]:10

Elements of the regiment began to move to the Far East in November 1911.[14] By mid-1912, Headquarters, the Band, and the 1st and 3rd Battalions were established at Tientsin in China as part of the international peace-keeping mission designed to protect civilians during the Boxer Rebellion; the 2nd in the Philippines.[15] The latter never joined the rest, for the men were transferred from it to the 1st Battalion of the 31st Infantry in August 1916. The 2nd Battalion was reorganized in Tientsin by transfer of personnel from the other two battalions. The mission of the regiment became difficult to define, and in the course of time the unit itself was transferred to the control of the State Department.[14]

In line with new doctrine on organization, three provisional companies, Headquarters, Supply, and Machine Gun, were formed during August 1914, and in 1916 they were made permanent. That same year, World War I broke out in Europe, and most of the European nations withdrew their troops from China. Dutifully, the old "China Regiment" took over their patrolling. As a result, the regiment missed the fight in Europe, but it was often close to conflict in China. Armies of warlords roamed the land and sometimes threatened the American quarter. Christmas Day, 1925 was very tense, for 5,000 troops belonging to Feng, a warlord from the north, entered the area. Captain Tuttle with nine men went out to warn off this horde. As the tiny detachment approached, the advanced guard of the mass deployed and came on with fixed bayonets. Not flinching, the nine doughboys blocked the road while Tuttle proceeded alone toward the invaders. He ordered them to make a detour, and marvelous to say, they finally did.

For reasons of state, the 1st Battalion went to the Philippines in August 1921, where eight years later, it was deactivated. In 1932, Companies G and L were also deactivated. This left six companies at their stations in Tientsin. Much of the tradition of the regiment comes from its twenty-six years stay in China. George C. Marshall, later General of the Armies, commanded it from 1924 to 1927.

Much of the 15th Infantry's tradition comes from the 26 years in China. The dragon on the regimental crest and the pidgin English motto "Can Do" symbolize its China service. Also many of the ceremonial properties of the 15th are from China, for example, the grand silver punch bowl with accessories. These are all found in the China Room at Fort Benning.

World War II

The regiment left China for Fort Lewis, Washington, on 2 March 1938. On 12 January 1940, the regiment was assigned to the 3d Infantry Division. LTC Dwight D. Eisenhower served in the 15th from March to November 1940, as commander of 1st Battalion. On 24 October 1942, the 15th Infantry and the 3d Infantry Division sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, bound for French Morocco. For the next 31 months, the regiment fought with absolute distinction through French North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, and Germany. By 9 May 1945, the 15th Infantry had 16 recipients of the Medal of Honor,[16] including Audie Murphy who was the most decorated soldier in US Army history and who commanded Company B of the 15th. World War II casualties included 1,633 killed, 5,812 wounded, and 419 missing in action.

Korean War

On 1 December 1948, the 15th was transferred from occupation duty in Germany to Fort Benning, Georgia. As part of the 3d Infantry Division, the regiment sailed for Korea on 31 August 1950. The regiment covered the withdrawal of X Corps from Chosin Reservoir in 1950, fought north to the 38th parallel in 1951, and fought in the Kumsong sector until the armistice was signed. At the time of the truce, the 15th had seen action in eight major campaigns and added three more Medal of Honor recipients, Emory L. Bennett (24 June 1951), Ola L. Mize (10 June and 11 June 1953) and Charles F. Pendleton (16 July and 17 July 1953). The Belgian Contingent that served alongside the 15th at the "Iron Triangle", borrowed its motto ("Can Do"), changing it to "Belgians Can Do Too!" for its own use.[17]

Cold War

On 3 December 1954, the regiment returned to Fort Benning. In 1957, the Army reorganized combat forces from regiments and battalions to battle groups.[18] 1st and 2nd Battle Groups, 15th Infantry (bearing the lineages of the former Companies A and B) were assigned to Kitzingen and Wildflicken, West Germany, respectively, as part of the 3d Infantry Division. These units maintained their "battle skills" by several deployments to Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training centers as well as several REFORGER exercises. Another Army-wide force reorganization in 1963 eliminated battle groups in favor of brigades and battalions and, in December 1965, the 3rd and 4th Battalions were deactivated.

The 15th Infantry Regimental Headquarters and the 3rd Battalion [19] were reactivated at Fort Stewart, Georgia, on 25 August 1989, as part of the 24th Infantry Division. The 4th battalion was reactivated in May 1987 at Fort Knox, Kentucky, as part of the 194th Armored Brigade. The "Can Do" battalion, formerly the 4th Battalion, 54th Infantry, was the only infantry battalion at Fort Knox. The battalion served not only as a mechanized infantry battalion (equipped with M113A1/A2 Armored Personnel Carriers, APCs), but also in support of the United States Army Armor School during various training missions.

Middle East & Atlantic conflicts

From 20 August 1990 through 22 March 1991, the 3rd Battalion participated in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, to free Kuwait from Iraqi oppression. In 1993, the 3rd Battalion deployed three companies to Mogadishu, Somalia, to conduct combat operations in Operations Restore and Continue Hope. In 1994, the 2nd Battalion deployed to Macedonia to deter Serbian aggression. In 1994 the 3rd Battalion deployed one company to Haitito support Operation Uphold Democracy.

The 1st Battalion colors were returned from Germany in 1996. The 1-18 IN was reflagged as 1-15 IN on 15 February 1996. The actual reflagging ceremony was held at Fort Stewart on 25 April 1996. The 2nd Battalion was deactivated in 1996.

Global War on Terrorism

The 1st and 3rd Battalions deployed to Iraq with the 3d Infantry Division in 2003 and again in 2005–06, with one battalion falling under the 42nd Infantry Division. The 1st Battalion deployed to Iraq for the third time in March 2007. The 3rd Battalion was deactivated and reflagged the same year at Fort Stewart, Georgia. In 2009 the 3rd Battalion was reactivated at Fort Stewart. The 1st Battalion deployed to Iraq in 2009 assuming responsibility for operations in ad-Diwaniyah and an-Najaf for Operation Iraqi Freedom VII and Operation New Dawn.

The history of the regiment is perpetuated through the 15th Infantry Regiment Association. The association is made up of former and current members of the regiment.

Original 3rd Battalion

  • Constituted 3 May 1861 in the Regular Army as the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry
  • Organized by March 1864 at Fort Adams, Rhode Island
  • Reorganized and redesignated 21 September 1866 as the 33d Infantry
  • Consolidated in May 1869 with the 8th Infantry and consolidated unit designated as the U.S. 8th Infantry Regiment.

Campaign streamers

Civil War
  • Shiloh
  • Murfreesborough
  • Chickamauga
  • Chattanooga
  • Atlanta
  • Mississippi 1862
  • Alabama 1862
  • Tennessee 1862
  • Tennessee 1863
  • Kentucky 1862
  • Georgia 1864
Indian Wars
  • Utes
  • New Mexico 1880
Philippine Insurrection
  • Luzon 1900, 1901
China Relief Expedition

Without inscription

World War II
  • Algeria-French Morocco (with arrowhead)
  • Tunisia
  • Sicily (with arrowhead)
  • Naples-Foggia
  • Anzio (with arrowhead)
  • Rome-Arno
  • Southern France (with arrowhead)
  • Rhineland
  • Ardennes-Alsace
  • Central Europe
Korean War
  • CCF Intervention
  • First UN Counteroffensive
  • CCF Spring Offensive
  • UN Summer-Fall Offensive
  • Second Korean Winter
  • Korea, Summer-Fall 1952
  • Third Korean Winter
  • Korea, Summer 1953
Southwest Asia
  • Defense of Saudi Arabia
  • Liberation and Defense of Kuwait
Defense of Kosovo
War on Terrorism
  • Iraq 2003
  • Iraq 2010
  • Afghanistan 2013


Ribbon Award Streamer embroidered
Dark blue ribbon with a gold border Presidential Unit Citation (Army) SAN FRATELLO
Dark blue ribbon with a gold border Presidential Unit Citation (Army) MONTELIMAR
Dark blue ribbon with a gold border Presidential Unit Citation (Army) COLMAR
Dark blue ribbon with a gold border Presidential Unit Citation (Army) KOWANG-NI
Dark blue ribbon with a gold border Presidential Unit Citation (Army) IRAQ 2003
blue, yellow, and red horizontal stripes Presidential Unit Citation (Navy) HWACHON RESERVOIR
Vertical stripes alternating red, blue, white, blue, white, red, white, blue, white, blue, red with gold border Valorous Unit Award[20] IRAQ 2007-2008
Red ribbon Meritorious Unit Commendation[21] IRAQ 2009-2010
Green ribbon with vertical blue, yellow red stripes mirrored on the edges Navy Unit Commendation PANMUNJOM
alt:Red ribbon with vertical green stripes in the center and a palm leaf in the middle French Croix de guerre with Palm COLMAR
Red and Green woven citation cord with brass tip French Croix de guerre Fourragère
White ribbon with vertical green and red stripes on its edges and a red and blue circle in the middle Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation UIJONGBU CORRIDOR
White ribbon with vertical green and red stripes on its edges and a red and blue circle in the middle Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation IRON TRIANGLE
White ribbon with vertical green and red stripes on its edges and a red and blue circle in the middle Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation KOREA 1950–1952
The streamer has five alternating stripes (3 blue and two white) with the inscription in yellow Chryssoun Aristion Andrias
(Bravery Gold Medal of Greece)

Medal of Honor recipients

Civil War
World War II

Notable former officers

See also

  • Baker Boys: Inside the Surge
  • In the Valley of Elah
  • Richard T. Davis (3rd Platoon, Baker Company)
  • To Hell and Back
  • Presidential Decision Directive 25 [41]


  1. Lineage
  2. [1]
  3. Brinkerhoff, H. R. (1896). "The Fifteenth Regiment of Infantry". Retrieved 25 July 2012. 
  4. That Body Of Brave Men by Mark Johnson, pp. 42-48
  6. That Body Of Brave Men by Mark Johnson, p. 105
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Olwell, Murray M. (1953). The Fifteenth Infantry Regiment, 1861-1953. 
  15. U.S. Army Order of Battle
  16. Congressional Medal of Honor Society
  17. [|De Wit, Frans] (2003). Belgians Can Do Too!. De Krijger. ISBN 9058680665. 
  18. History Lineage
  19. 15th Infantry lineage
  20. Department of the Army Human Resources Command Permanent Orders #276-17 02 October 2008
  21. Department of the Army Human Resources Command Permanent Orders#336-22 02 December 2010
  22. William J. Carson
  23. Sylvester Antolak
  24. Francis Xavier Burke
  25. Herbert F. Christian
  26. Robert J. Craig
  27. Michael Joseph Daly
  28. Elden Harvey Johnson
  29. Victor Leonard Kandle
  30. Gus Kefurt
  31. Joseph Frederick Merrell
  32. Audie Leon Murphy
  33. Arlo L. Olson
  34. Henry Schauer
  35. John Joseph Tominac
  36. Keith Lincoln Ware
  37. Eli Lamar Whiteley
  38. Emory Lawrence Bennett
  39. Ola Lee Mize
  40. Charles F. Pendleton
  41. Mike New of 1-15

Further reading

  • America's Tenth Legion: X Corps In Korea, 1950 by Shelby L. Stanton
  • Battle Diary by John H. Toole
  • Blue and White Devils: The Story of the 3rd Infantry Division by the Stars & Stripes
  • Dogface Soldiers: The Story of B Company, 15th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division by Daniel R. Champagne
  • The Dragon Chronicle - History of the 15th Infantry from the Civil War to the Present by G. Lee Cotter
  • Cold Ground's Been My Bed - A Korean War Memoir by Dan Wolfe
  • Ebb and Flow November 1950 - July 1951 by Billy C. Mossman
  • History of the Third Infantry Division in World War II Edited by Donald G. Taggart
  • I Remember: Stories of a Combat Infantryman in World War II by John Shirley
  • Korea 1951-1953 by John Miller, Jr and Owen Carroll
  • The Old China Hands by Charles G. Finney
  • Proud To Serve My Country by Captain Vasquez-Rodriguez PROUD TO SERVE MY COUNTRY
  • South to the Naktong, North to the Yalu by Roy E. Appleman
  • That Body of Brave Men - The US Regular Infantry and the Civil War in the West by Mark Johnson
  • Thunder Run by David Zucchino
  • To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy
  • Truce Tent and Fighting Front by Walter G. Hermes
  • The United States 15th Infantry Regiment in China, 1912-1938 by Dr. Alfred Cornebise
  • Warlord Cowboys In China: The Fred Barton Story of the Worlds Greatest Horsedrive by Larry Weirather
  • We Called It War! by Denzil Batson
  • When The Odds Were Even - The Vosges Mountain Campaign by Keith E. Bonn
  • 15th Infantry Regiment Association

External links

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

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