A Guide to the 15th Virginia Infantry History, 1861-1864 15th Virginia Infantry History Ms2009-111

A Guide to the 15th Virginia Infantry History, 1861-1864

A Collection in
Special Collections
Collection Number Ms2009-111


Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Special Collections, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
Email: specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu/

© 2009 By Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. All rights reserved.

Processed by: Emily Cook, Special Collections Staff

Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
Collection Number
15th Virginia Infantry History 1861-1864
Physical Characteristics
1 container; 0.1 cu. ft.
History of the 15th Virginia Infantry, covering its formation in April 1861 to the spring of 1862, written by enlisted soldier Claybrook Y. Lain. Includes copies of Confederate company records concerning Lain's enlistment, payment, death, and beneficiaries.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish material from the 15th Virginia Infantry History must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: 15th Virginia Infantry History, Ms2009-111, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.

Acquisition Information

The 15th Virginia Infantry History was purchased by Special Collections in 2004.

Processing Information

The processing and description of the 15th Virginia Infantry History commenced in July 2009 and was completed in October 2009.

Biographical Information

Claybrook Y. Lain (variously spelled Lane and Layne) was born in Albemarle, Virginia, to Elizabeth Lain. In Richmond, on April 23, 1861, Lain joined the 15th Virginia Infantry. In 1862, Lain was promoted to first sergeant and between August and October of 1863, he became the regimental commissary sergeant. Lain died during the Battle of Drewry's Bluff, on May 16, 1864, and left behind his mother as sole beneficiary--Lain was unmarried.

The 15th Virginia Infantry, initially called the 3rd Virginia Regiment, was originally formed from ten companies taken from Richmond and its surrounding area--some companies even predated the southern states' succession from the Union. The original company names were: Henrico Grays, Virginia Life Guards, Patrick Henry's Rifles, Henrico Guard, Ashland Grays, Emmett Guard, Henrico Southern Guard, Young Guard, Hanover Grays, and Marion Rifles. These companies later held alphabetical designations. (A relatively diverse "regiment," the Emmett Guard was composed largely of Irish citizens while the Marion Rifles included German citizens.) The 15th Virginia Infantry was involved in significant battles at Bethel Church, Savage Station, Malvern Hill, South Mountain, and Sharpsburg.

Scope and Content

The 15th Virginia Infantry History is a handwritten account by enlisted soldier Claybrook Y. Lain regarding the formation and activities of a Confederate regiment from 1861 to 1862. Lain, writing as an omniscient narrator, only infrequently refers to himself within the text. Significant topics within the history include: the creation of the "15th Virginia Regiment," the background of individual companies and the merit of their commanders, the Battle at Bethel Church, the dearth of supplies, the use of alcohol, the movement of soldiers, and the management of the camp by a colonel from the Virginia Military Institute. Lain writes of a particularly interesting incident in which the students from the Virginia Military Institute, aiding in camp management, attempt to trick a soldier out of his musket only to find that the soldier retained a six shooter and could forcibly recover his firearm. Several military commanders are mentioned specifically, and include: Colonel Harvie, Colonel Thomas P. August, Colonel Gilharn, and Colonel Stuart among others. Some considerable Virginia locations (cities, camps, and forts) mentioned within the history are Richmond, Williamsburg, Hampton, Yorktown, Newport News, Young's Mill, Camp Adams, and Fort Powhatan. The history ends in 1862; therefore, Lain's history omits the final years of the Civil War and the eventual results of the conflict. Also included with the 15th Virginia Infantry History are reproductions of Lain's military service records from 1861 to 1864, including specifically records of his enlistment, pay, death, and final beneficiaries.

Index Terms


  • Civil War
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865

Contents List

Folder 1
15th Virginia Infantry history 1861-1864