The 15th Arkansas was initially organized as the 1st Arkansas Infantry Regiment (State Troops) at Camp Rector near Mound City, Arkansas (about 6 miles north of what is now West Memphis) on July 23, 1861 under the command of Colonel Patrick Ronayne Cleburne. Company A was the "Harris Guards"; Company B the "Jefferson Guards"; Company C the "Yell Rifles" of Helena; Company D the "Tyronza Rebels"; Company F the "Monroe Blues"; Company G, the "Hindman Guards" of Phillips county; Company H the "Rector Guards".
The regiment moved via steamboat from Camp Rector down the Mississippi and back up the White River to Pocahontas, Arkansas where they were sworn into Confederate service as the 1st Arkansas Infantry Regiment. They conducted their initial training here, and were part of Hardee's Division. They made a short excursion into southeast Missouri in September, and in October, moved with the rest of Hardee's command across the river into KY, becoming Hardee's Division, Army of Central Kentucky. Col Cleburne was promoted to command the brigade, and was succeeded in command by LTC Archibald K. Patton. Other field officers were LTC Samuel S. Black, MAJ Charles H. Carlton, James T. Harris, MAJ John E. Josey, and Col Lucious E. Polk. After the regiment's paperwork was forwarded to Richmond, the Confederate Army headquarters realized that it had mustered in two 1st Arkansas regiments, and so changed the numbering of Cleburne's old regiment to the 15th Arkansas Volunteer Infantry effective December 31, 1861.
The 15th Arkansas saw its first combat at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862, where it suffered heavy casualties in driving back Sherman's division of Union troops. After regrouping at Corinth, the regiment participated with Cleburne's Brigade in the Confederate Army of Tennessee at the battle of Richmond and Perryville, KY in October 1862, at Stones River (Dec. 31, 1862-Jan. 3, 1863). Heavy casualties in this campaign caused the regiment's consolidation with the 13th Arkansas early in 1863, and shortly afterwards wit the 2nd Arkansas as well. Participated in the Tullahoma Campaign in June, 1863 and at Liberty Gap on June 24. Fought with Cleburne's Division at Chickamauga (Sept 19-20, 1863); the siege of Chattanooga (Sept- Nov 1863); and at Tunnel Hill in the Missionary Ridge battle on November 23-25, 1863. Served with Cleburne in the Atlanta Campaign at Ringgold, Dalton, Resaca, New Hope Church, and Kennesaw Mountain and Atlanta, and during the siege of Atlanta. Regiment and colors were captured at Jonesboro, GA on Sept. 1, 1864, and paroled approximately a month later. Participated as a part of Cleburne's Division at Spring Hill, TN, Franklin, and Nashville. Survivors were consolidated along with those of the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 13th, 19th (Dawson's) and 24th Arkansas Infantry and the 3rd Confederate Regiment (formerly Marmaduke's 18th Arkansas Infantry) to form the 1st Infantry Regiment (Consolidated) at Smithfield, NC on April 9th, 1865. Surrendered two weeks later with LTG Joe Johnston's Army of Tennessee near Durham, North Carolina.