15th Battalion Mississippi Sharpshooters (Hawkins)
(from Dunbar Rowlands "Military History of Mississippi, 1803-1898"; company listing courtesy of H. Grady Howells "For Dixie Land, Ill Take My Stand)
Company A -- Stegers Company (county of origin not specified)
Company B -- Colemans Company (county of origin not specified)
Major -- A. T. Hawkins, killed at Chickamauga.
The battalion was of two companies, seventy-eight officers and men, detailed in Wood's (Lowrey's) Brigade, Cleburne's Division, Army of Tennessee. This brigade included the Thirty-second and Forty-fifth Mississippi Regiments at that time. At the battle of Murfreesboro the casualties of the battalion were 3 killed, 24 wounded and 5 missing. General Cleburne gave special mention in his report to Capt. A. T. Hawkins, of "Wood's sharpshooters." They were engaged in the fight on the Nolensville road, near Triune, December 27, 1862. On December 31 the Brigade, doing its part in the general battle, encountered Carlin's Brigade of McCook's Division strongly posted, and drove it back and captured a hospital and gained ground for some time across the Nolensville pike. Later that day they fought at the Cane Brake, where there was great slaughter. Cleburne ordered the sharpshooters forward against the Federal artillery, but they could find no shelter and were forced back. January 1 the battalion was thrown out with Liddell's skirmishers, driving back the Federal pickets for a mile and gaining a fine view of the Federal movements on the Nashville pike.
The battalion, under the command of Major Hawkins, was distinguished in the work of Cleburne's Division at Chickamauga, September 19-20, 1863. Its place in the battle line was on the right of Lowrey's consolidated regiment, which was the right of the brigade, and it shared in the gallant performance of that Mississippi regiment. Saturday evening they fought at the fence held by the Federals, and again at the edge of the woods where the Federals in their front made the last stand that day, so late that their position could only be told by the blaze of the guns. Company B, Capt. Daniel Coleman, was deployed as skirmishers and passed the night close to the enemy, hearing them fell the trees to make the defences of General Thomas' line the next day. Company A, Capt. T. M. Steger, took a turn on the skirmish line Sunday morning, and towards noon the battalion, with the whole line of Cleburne's Division, advanced to attack Thomas' position, coming under a destructive fire. They lay down and thus held the position for an hour and a half, until, the ranks being fearfully thinned, they rose, about-faced and marched steadily to the rear with Lowrey's Regiment. While the gallant commander, Major Hawkins, was exhorting the men to keep good order one of his legs was taken off by a cannon ball. He died a few days later, one of the four Majors of the brigade who were mortally wounded in this battle. Capt. Daniel Coleman then took command. While upon the ridge which they held so stubbornly Second Lieutenant R. V. Coleman, of Company A, fell pierced with four mortal wounds while nobly discharging his duty. He was the second brother who had fallen with this battalion. Sergeant Cunningham, of the same company, lost his life in gallant performance of duty. Sergt. R. L. Finley and Corporal Wallis, of B, were honored for remarkable bravery. In the final engagement of the battle, as Thomas was about to retire from the field, Captain Steger's company served on the skirmish line. The companies selected the following for the Roll of Honor: Lieut, R. V. Coleman and Private Robert Jackson Custer, A; Corporal J. R. Wallis, B.
Under the command of Capt. T. M. Steger the battalion had an honorable part in the repulse of General Sherman at Tunnel Hill, on Missionary Ridge, November 25, 1863, and at Ringgold Gap, on the 27th, they were distinguished for sturdy fighting. In the latter fight Steger took thirty of his men and cleared away the enemy's skirmishers, and occupied the crest of the hill before the arrival of General Lowrey with the Mississippi Regiment. All of the men behaved nobly in this fight, which was so close at times stones were used instead of muskets. In an engagement before Dalton February 26, 1864, the battalion had 3 wounded. It is not mentioned in any later reports.
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