Field & Staff---Unassigned
Organized at Carlisle, Pa., July to October, 1862. Engaged in scout and picket duty near Chambersburg, Pa., during Maryland Campaign, September 6-24, 1862. Attached to Cavalry Division, Army Potomac, unassigned, September, 1862. A Detachment moved to Greencastle, thence to Hagerstown, Md., September 6-15. Skirmish near Hagerstown September 12-13. Hagerstown September 15. Advance to Jones' Cross Roads September 16, and scouting during battle of Antietam, Md., September 17. Led advance of Pennsylvania Militia to Williamsport September 20-21. Regiment left State for Louisville, Ky., November 7, 1862, thence moved to Nashville, Tenn., December 8. Served unattached, Army Cumberland, to December, 1862. Reserve, Cavalry Brigade, Army Cumberland, to March, 1863. Unattached, Cavalry Corps, Army Cumberland, to June, 1863. Headquarters Army Cumberland to October, 1863. Unattached Cavalry, Dept. Cumberland, to May, 1864. Post and District of Nashville, Dept. Cumberland, to August, 1864. Unattached, Dept. Cumberland, to November, 1864. 3rd Brigade, 6th Division, Cavalry Corps, Military Division Mississippi, to March, 1865. 1st Brigade, Cavalry Division, District East Tennessee, Dept. Cumberland, to June, 1865.
SERVICE.--Skirmish on Hillsboro Pike, near Nashville, Tenn., December 25, 1862. Advance on Murfreesboro December 26-30. Nolensville December 26-27. Triune December 27. Wilkinson's Cross Roads December 29. Battle of Stone's River December 30-31, 1862, and January 1-3, 1863. Lavergne December 30, 1862. Scout to Woodbury January 4. 1863. Lytle's Creek January 5. At Murfreesboro until June. Scout to Woodbury April 4. Near Woodbury April 5-6. The Barrens April 7. (Cos. "B," "H" and "K" at Dept. Headquarters.) Middle Tennessee or Tullahoma Campaign June 22-July 7. Near Rover June 24. Winchester August 1. Passage of Cumberland Mountains and Tennessee River, and Chickamauga (Ga.) Campaign August 16-September 22. Battle of Chickamauga September 19-21. Duty in Sequatchie Valley until November. Near Dunlap October 2. Sequatchie Valley October 26. March to relief of Knoxville November 28-December 8. Gatlinsburg December 10. Near Dandridge Mills December 13. Near Morristown December 14. Near Dandridge December 22-23. Dandridge December 24. Mossy Creek, Talbot Station, December 29. Scout from Dandridge to Clark's Ferry January 10-11, 1864. Schultz's Mill, Cosby Creek, January 14 (Detachment). Near Wilsonville January 22 (Detachment). Indian Creek January 28. Fair Garden January 28-29. Fain's Island January 28. Expedition from Marysville to Quallatown. N. C., January 31-February 7. Quallatown February. 5 Moved to Chattanooga, Tenn., arriving February 12. Demonstration on Dalton, Ga., February 22-27. Tunnel Hill, Buzzard's Roost Gap and Rocky Faced Ridge February 23-25. Scouting until May. Ordered to Nashville, Tenn., May 4, and duty there until September. Gillem's Expedition from East Tennessee toward Southwest Virginia September 20-October 17. Jonesboro and Watauga River September 29. Kingsport October 7. Rogersville October 8. Scouting about Chattanooga until December. Dalton December 13. Pursuit of Hood's forces and trains December 20, 1864, to January 6, 1865. Near Decatur, Ala., December 28. Pond Springs December 29. Near Leighton December 30. Russellville December 31. Nauvoo, Ala., January 2. Thorn Hill January 3. Near Mr. Hope January 5. Pursuit of Lyon January 13-16. Red Hill January 14. Warrenton January 15. Paint Rock January 26. Stoneman's Raid into Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina March 21-April 25. Demonstration on Virginia & Tennessee Railroad to near Lynchburg, Va., March 26-April 6 (Detachment under Major Wagner). Yadkin River March 29. Boone, N. C., April 1. Hillsville and Wytheville, Va., April 3. New London, Va., April 8. Martinsville April 8. Near Greensboro April 11. Capture of Saulsbury April 12. Jamestown, N. C., April 19. Howard's Gap, Blue Ridge Mountains, April 22. Pursuit of Jeff Davis May. (A Detachment of Regiment was on duty at Headquarters Army Cumberland June 24, 1863, to December, 1864; participated in the Atlanta Campaign and Nashville Campaign.) Mustered out at Nashville, Tenn., June 21, 1865. Company "A" retained in service until July 18, 1865.
Regiment lost during service 3 Officers, and 22 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 103 Enlisted men by disease. Total 128.In the early part of August, 1862, William J. Palmer received authority from the Secretary of War to recruit a battalion of cavalry, which was subsequently extended to recruit a full regiment. Recruiting offices were opened in Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and other parts of the State, and before the end of the month, nearly a thousand men were in the camp of rendezvous at Carlisle, and mustered into the service of the United States. A company, known as the Anderson Troop, had been previously recruited by Captain Palmer, to serve as body guard to General Anderson. It was understood that the new regiment, which he was authorized to recruit, should be employed on similar duty. Accordingly, especial care was taken to obtain a select body, and in its ranks were young men from some of the wealthiest and most influential families in the Commonwealth. Officers of the Troop were placed in charge of the companies, and with the aid of officers from the Regular Cavalry stationed at Carlisle, the drill of the regiment was vigorously prosecuted.
Early in September, the enemy, fresh from his triumphs at Bull Run, began to cross the Potomac in force. The regiment was, accordingly, ordered to remain in the Cumberland Valley, and two hundred and fifty picked men, with three days' rations, and thirty-six rounds of ammunition per man, were ordered to the front. Proceeding by rail to Greencastle, parties were sent out in all directions to procure horses, the command as yet not having been mounted. One hundred and fifty were obtained, and all the roads leading from the south were picketed, the enemy being in strong force at Hagerstown. Skirmishing took place on the 12th and 13th, and the pickets were twice driven, but by keeping up a bold front, the enemy was prevented from following up, his advantage, supposing, no doubt, that the pickets were well supported. Indeed, General Longstreet, while in possession of Hagerstown, reported to General Lee, that "had he not found swarms of Yankee cavalry in his front, he would have advanced further into the State." The detachment really had no support nearer than Chambersburg, and on the 15th, the dismounted men were sent to that place. On the same day, learning that the enemy was leaving Hagerstown, the detachment was collected, and moving forward in a body, charged through the town, capturing thirty rebel stragglers. It then advanced to Jones' Cross Roads, on the Sharpsburg Pike, where it remained during the night in readiness for an attack, and during the 17th, while the battle of Antietam was in progress, was employed, in bringinging up stragglers and scouting, losing one man killed. On the day following the battle, Captain Palmer, while within the enemy's lines in disguise, in the discharge of a dangerous and difficult duty by order of the commanding General, was taken prisoner and sent to Richmond, where, for several months, he endured the privations of rebel durance. On the 20th, the detachment led the advance of the Pennsylvania Militia, under General Reynolds, to Williamsport, and on the following day, the enemy having made good his escape, returned to Greencastle, delivering the horses to their owners, and thence to their camp at Carlisle.
Up to this time, none but temporary organizations had been made, the men relying on Captain Palmer to select officers of ability and experience to lead them, having, by the the terms of their enlistment, waived the right to choose their own officers. His capture, at this critical juncture, proved a great misfortune, as the command was left without a head, On the 1st of October, William Spencer, First Lieutenant of the Troop, was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel, Adolph G. Rosengarten, and Frank B. Ward, Majors, and the regiment was organized in ten companies. A full list of company officers was presented to the proper authorities for appointment, but only eleven of these were commissioned.
On the 7th of November, the regiment moved by rail to Louisville, Kentucky, where, upon its arrival, it went into camp, and was mounted. A month later it was ordered forward to Nashville, where the main army, now under command of General Rosecrans, was assembled. At this time, the command had seven field and staff officers, twelve line, and about two-thirds of its complement of non-commissioned officers. On the 25th, a detachment of two hundred and fifty men was sent out as guard to a foraging train, and while beyond the lines, on the Hillsboro Pike, was attacked, and one man killed; but the enemy was beaten back, and the laden train brought safely in.
The army was now upon the eve of advancing to meet Bragg, in the battle of Stone River. On the 26th, an order was issued for the regiment to advance with General Stanley's Division of Cavalry. Much dissatisfaction had prevailed previous to leaving Louisville, on account of the want of officers, and the lack of efficiency in the organization; but the men had determined to march to Nashville, and there lay their grievances before General Rosecrans, all appeals to Governor Curtin, and to the Secretary of War, having proved fruitless. Rosecrans was now busy with the movement of his forces, and could not be seen.
With only a single commissioned officer to the company, the command was really in no condition to move; but the order for it was peremptory. The officers, with about three hundred of the men, under the leadership of Majors Rosengarten and Ward, rendered prompt obedience. The remainder, to the number of about six hundred, stacked arms and refused to go. Stanley covered the right flank of the advancing army, and on the 27th came up with the enemy, when brisk skirmishing opened, and the enemy was driven back nearly five miles.
On the 29th, the command marched by a circuitous route to Wilkinson's Cross Roads, where it encountered a body of rebel cavalry. Deploying skirmishers, the enemy was driven a mile, when a charge was ordered, and was led by Majors Rosengarten and Ward. Gallantly the command went forward, but soon encountered the enemy's infantry in overpowering numbers. The struggle was maintained with desperate valor, and at close quarters, the men using their pistols and clubbing their carbines. At the height of the encounter, Major Rosengarten was killed, and Major Ward mortally wounded. The battalion was finally forced to retire. Major Ward, who had been helped to the rear, insisted upon another charge, though bleeding from several wounds. The attempt was made, but the command was again repulsed. The loss was thirteen killed, or mortally wounded, and sixty-nine wounded and missing.
The command now devolved on Captain Veziil, and with the First Tennessee Cavalry, it moved in pursuit of the enemy's horse, which had destroyed a Union wagon train. All night long the march continued, but without avail. On the afternoon of the 31st, it joined General Minty's Brigade in a charge on Wheeler's Cavalry, led by General Stanley in person, in which the enemy was driven in upon his supports. In this charge, Private Holt, of company H, captured and brought off the colors of the Tenth Tennessee (rebel) Cavalry, on which was inscribed: "Death before Subjugation." At night the command was advanced and deployed in line of skirmishers, where it remained until the morning of the New Year. The enemy, who had gained a signal advantage in the morning of the 31st, routing and driving back the right wing of Rtosecrans7 army, had been stopped and signally repulsed at evening. There was little more hard fighting, the enemy retreating rapidly on the 3d, and leaving the field in the hands of the Union army. On the morning of the 1st, the battalion, with the Third Ohio, was detailed to guard a train on its way back to Nashville, and was twice attacked, losing four killed and three wounded.In the meantime, General Mitchell, in command at Nashville, determined to compel the men who remained in camp, to go to the front, and accordingly sent General Morgan, on the 30th, to execute his purpose. Upon the offer of General Morgan to take them to General Rosecrans, they were soon in saddle, and all, save a detachment left in charge of' the camp and the sick, were upon the march, under command of Colonel Woods, of an Illinois regiment, who had been detailed by General Morgan to command them. At Lavergne, they were. stopped by a powerful body of the enemy's cavalry, under command of Wheeler. Unable to cope with him, Colonel Woods was compelled to fall back. Famishing with hunger, neither men nor horses having had regular supplies for many days, one hundred of the number went into camp six miles from Nashville, and on the following day made their way to the front, but the remainder returned to their old camp near the city, from which they refused again to move, and on the evening of the 31st, were sent by General Mitchell to the Workhouse. On the 20th of January, 1863, General Rosecrans sent them a proposition, that if they would return to duty, he would have them speedily re-organized and fully officered. As this was all that they were clamoring for, they accepted it.
On the 7th of February, Colonel Palmer returned from captivity, and resumed command, when everything began again to wear a cheerful aspect. Horses, and a full complement of equipments were received, and the regiment was organized in twelve companies, with the following field officers: William J. Palmer, Colonel; Charles B. Lamborn, Lieutenant Colonel. Much abuse was heaped upon the men who refused to march, and the wildest rumors prevailed concerning their motives.
The rebel organs throughout the South proclaimed that the Yankee soldiers at Nashville were laying down their arms by regiments, in consequence of the issue of the President's emancipation proclamation, whereas, it is probable that not a thought of this proclamation ever entered their counsels. Charges of cowardice, and disappointment at not being taken to duty at the headquarters of the commanding General were made, but the lack of organization, and of officers, and want of efficient leadership, seems to have been the simple and only cause of their conduct. While the unfortunate situation in which they were placed must ever be deplored, and their refusal to march condemned, the conduct of the men who followed the gallant Rosengarten and Ward, even under the most discouraging circumstances, and met death in the face of the foe, will never cease to be regarded with admiration and gratitude.
Active operations commenced soon after its re-organization. On the 4th of April, a detachment of three hundred, with infantry and artillery, all under command of General I. N. Palmer, scouted in the direction of Woodbury, the detachment having a brisk skirmish four miles beyond the town, and on the following day took some prisoners and released some Union conscripts near M'Minnville. On the 7th, it charged a body of the enemy near the Barrens, capturing eighteen of his men. Returning to camp near Murfreesboro, the regiment was reviewed on the 10th by General Rosecrans.
On the 24th of June, the army moved forward on the Chickamauga campaign, when companies B, H, and K, were detailed as escort to the General commanding, and the remainder of the regiment was employed for courier duty, between the right and left wings of the army, under Generals Cook, and Crittenden. The latter was required to obtain a knowledge of the topography of the country in advance of the army, requiring much activity. On the 24th, companies E, and L, while bearing dispatches to General Mitchell, at Rover, encountered a party of the enemy and dispersed it, killing two and capturing several, delivering the dispatches in safety. Again, on the 29th, nearly the entire regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Lainborn, encountered a body of rebel cavalry north of Tullahoma, driving them in upon their entrenchments, and capturing fifteen. It soon after advanced with Thomas to Tulilahomna the enemy retreating.
About the middle of August, the army again moved forward, and until the opening of the battle of Chickamauga, the regiment was kept busy in scouting the country and preparing maps for the use of the General commanding.
During the first day of the battle, September 19th, the regiment was on duty at General Rosecrans' headquarters, guarding flank roads, watching the movements of the enemy, and carrying dispatches. When the right gave way on the second day, Colonel Palmer was ordered by General Rosecrans to form the regiment so as to stop stragglers. The line was formed near the foot of Mission Ridge, west of the Crawfish Road, and had stopped a larger number, when the regiment was ordered to the rear by General Sheridan, moving by the top of the ridge to the left.
Following the roar of the wagon trains and batteries to a point twelve miles south of Chattanooga, Colonel Palmer turned to the left, and formed his regiment across the valley, a mile south of where the trains debouched towards Chattanooga, and sent out scouting parties in the direction of Pond Spring, and Stevens' Gap. The smoke of Colonel Watkins' wagons, which the rebel cavalry was burning at Stevens' Gap, was here visible. Remaining until the cavalry of General Mitchell had come up, the regiment moved on with the rear of the train to Chattanooga. Company L, sent ten miles out on Lookout Mountain to watch the movements of the enemy, was cut off, but succeeded in making its way through his lines, and re-joining the regiment in Chattanooga.Bragg closed in upon the army of Rosecrans, sending out his cavalry to operate upon his communications. The animals were soon reduced to a starving condition. Colonel Palmer was, accordingly, sent with his cavalry into the Sequatchie Valley, thirty miles away, and encamped on Robinson's Plantation, where corn and provisions were found in abundance, and from which supplies were sent to Chattanooga.
Soon after the battle of the 25th of November, which swept Bragg from his strongholds around the city, and gave light and life to the starving army of Thomas, Colonel Palmer was ordered to move to Kingston with his regiment, and join Sherman, now on his way to Knoxville, to relieve the beleaguered army of Burnside. Sherman did not cross at Kingston, but kept up the left bank of the Tennessee, and Palmer, consequently, moved forward on the right bank, and was the first to report at Knoxville.
On the day following its arrival, General Burnside ordered it to Sevierville, to meet a body of the enemy, in part Indians, from North Carolina, under Colonel Thomas. Sending a squadron under Lieutenant Colonel Lamborn to demonstrate in front, Colonel Palmer led the main body, by night, across the mountains by a circuitous route, coming in upon the rear of the rebel force, and by a well concerted action, attacking at daylight in front and flank, completely routed it, wounding seven, and capturing two of the enemy, fifteen horses, and twenty stands of arms, and burning the camp. Captains Charles M. Betts, and George S. Clark, were among the wounded in the engagement. Captain M'Allister, with two companies, F, and G, was sent in pursuit of the fugitives, but failed to overtake them.
The regiment was now engaged in scouting on the left flank, and in rear of Longstreet's army, which was leisurely pursuing its way towards Virginia, extending along the French Broad River as far as Newport, having frequent skirmishes with the rebel cavalry, and capturing prisoners from whom important information was gained. On the night of the 23d of December, the command crossed the French Broad, and pushing up under cover of darkness, to the rear of the enemy's cavalry corps, captured a number of his pickets, thirteen horses, and twenty-six head of cattle, and brought theim safely into camp, though closely pursued.
On the 24th, the regiment participated in the battle of Dandridge, which was fought by the brigades of Sturgis and Elliott. After a sharp skirmish the enemy was driven, and in full retreat, but was timely reinforced by a brigade from Morristown, and was thus enabled to make a stand, before which the Union force was obliged to retire. In the fight, a spirited dash was made by Colonel Palmer, with ninety of his men, before whom the enemy fled in confusion; but returning, he was fired on by a party in concealment, and ten of his men were dismounted and fell into the hands of the foe. Captain Washington Airey was among these, and for fourteen months endured the hardships and privations of imprisonment, being finally released to die of disease contracted thereby. The entire loss was seventy-five in killed, wounded, and prisoners.
On the 29th, a sharp engagement occurred at Mossey Creek, and after a contest lasting six hours, the enemy was handsomely repulsed. Two spirited charges were made by tthe Fifteenth, gaining and holding an important position on the field, for which it was complimented by General Sturgis. It lost one officer, Lieutenant and Acting Adjutant, Harvey S. Lingle, killed, and five men wounded.
Longstreet having put his army in winter-quarters near Russellville, was sending his cavalry back to the rich corn-fields of the French Broad Valley, for supplies. The Fifteenth had become expert in scouting to ascertain the movements of the enemy, and to harass his foraging parties. It was, accordingly, posted at Dandridge, and charged especially with this duty. For two weeks it scouted the whole country on the enemy's flank, coming down upon him at the most unexpected moments, marching day and night, picking up prisoners, and gathering stock almost within the limits of rebel encampments.
On the 13th of January, 1863, while in camp opposite Dandridge, Colonel Palmer learned that Brigadier General Vance, with a force of three hundred cavalry and dismounted Indians, with two pieces of artillery, had advanced from North Carolina, and entered Sevierville, twelve miles in Colonel Palmer's rear, capturing twenty wagons loaded with wheat belonging to the army at Knoxville, and twenty prisoners. Though a brigade of rebel cavalry was in his front, threatening an attack, Colonel Palmer determined to go in pursuit of Vance. Accordingly, heading a party of one hundred and twenty-five men, and leaving his pickets out to deceive the enemy in his front, he started on his daring mission. On the way, he learned that Vance's forces had been divided, one party, including the Indians, going towards North Carolina, the other, headed by Vance himself, with the captured train, taking a back mountain road towards Newport. After a march of thirty miles, Palmer came up with the latter party at a point about eight miles from Newport, and by a bold charge with the sabre, captured the general, two of his staff officers, a lieutenant, fifty men, one hundred and fifty horses, the general's ambulance filled with captured medical stores, re-captured the entire wagon train and prisoners, and brought all back safely to Sevierville. For his gallantry in this affair, Colonel Palmer was strongly recommended by General Foster, in command at Knoxville, seconded by Generals Sturgis and Elliott, for promotion.
On the 24th, Colonel Palmer's command, temporarily reinforced by Colonel Brownlow's First Tennessee Cavalry, made an expedition into the enemy's foraging ground, near the mouth of the Big Pigeon River, and captured a train of eighteen wagons, ninety mules, and seventy-two of the enemy, including a captain, and three lieutenants, losing one man killed. The country around had become very familiar to the men of Colonel Palmer's command, and full reliance was placed in them for information by which the movements of heavy bodies of troops were guided. They were kept constantly upon the move. The plan of the considerable engagement at Fair Garden, on the 28th in which three steel guns, and one hundred prisoners were taken, was based upon information of the enemy's position and strength, furnished by scouting parties of the Fifteenth. On the following day, Colonel Palmer, by taking a flank trail in following the retreating rebels, discovered that they had been reinforced, and by timely warning to the main Union force, saved it from disaster.
The campaign having now ended, the regiment returned by easy marches to Chattanooga, where it arrived on the 11th of February, and was joined by a part of the regiment which had been left at the camp in Sequatchie Valley. During the three succeeding months the command was kept busy in scouting on the flank of the enemy holding position on Tunnel Hill, Buzzard's Roost, and Dalton. In reconnoissances to Lafayette, Summerville, Alpine and Lookout Valley, it gained important information, and captured some prisoners.
By the hard service during the fall and winter, the horses had become completely worn out, and on the 4th of May, as the army was about breaking camp for the spring campaign, the regiment. was ordered to Nashville, to remount and re-fit. It was August before the requisite horses, arms, and equipments were obtained, and the command was in readiness for the field. In the meantime, the men had been kept busy in drill and target practice. Captain Betts had been previously promoted to Major.
On the 8th of August, the regiment started for the front, but in consequence of the raid of Wheeler on Sherman's lines of supply, was stopped at Chattanooga, and scouted to Red Clay, Parker's Gap, and Spring Place, and upon the movement of Wheeler north, followed him in force, returning finally to Calhoun, where it was employed protecting the railroad.
On the 5th of September the regiment, about four hundred strong, was ordered to move north, to prevent the return of a force of Wheeler's cavalry, which had been cut off at M'Minnville, and was making its way under Dibberel to the Tennessee lRiver, below Kingston. It accordingly moved to Sevierville, the enemy keeping up on the opposite side of the river, and finally joining Vaughan near Bristol, Virginia. From Sevierville, the regiment marched to Bull's Gap, and joined General Gillem in a movement towards Virginia.
At Jonesboro, on the 3d of October, where the enemy was encountered, Colonel Palmer, who had the advance, was ordered to develop the enemy's strength and position. He accordingly charged the rebel rear-guard, driving it ten miles to the Wautauga River, killing one and capturing eight, where he found Duke in force. On the 4th and 5th there was some skirmishing. But Burbridge was now in the enemy's rear, and he retreated rapidly towards Abingdon. Gillem did not pursue, as Forest was raiding into Tennessee, but returned to Knoxville. Colonel Palmer was, however, permitted, at his own suggestion, to make diversion in favor of Burbridge, and advanced, via Bristol, to Kingsport.
Here a party of nine, with dispatches for Burbridge, who had withdrawn to Kentucky, was met. Taking seventy-five picked men, Colonel Palmer started to carry them through, and after five days severe marching, came up with Burbridge at Prestonburg, successfully eluding Prentiss' rebel cavalry, lying in wait for his capture, and attacking one of Prentiss' scouting parties, killing a captain, and one man, and taking twelve prisoners and thirty horses.
In the meantime, the remainder of the regiment, under Lieutenant Colonel
Lamborn, was attacked by Vaughan's forces, which had returned from Virginia.
Lamborn held the ford of the North Fork of the Holston against Vaughan for one
day, and at- night, having no supports, retired towards Bull's Gap, losing in
the skirmish one man wounded. On the following day, while crossing a difficult
ford of the main stream, he was again attacked by a large force. The command was
in column, along the river bank, the enemy occupying a steep bluff commanding
the ford, and the road which led to it, over which the column was advancing. A
company was sent to the rear of the attacking party, which, coming upon the
enemy unawares, made a sudden dash, capturing three officers and eight men, and
so disconcerting the entire party, that it took to its heels, leaving the Union
force, of only one hundred and twenty-five men, to cross and move unmolested to
Bulls Gap. Upon their arrival in camp, General Gillem complimented them in an
order, "' for their action at Rogervillo, October 7th, when in the face of
a rebel force much larger than their own, they crossed the Holston River,
capturing three rebel lieutenants, and eight enlisted men, with no loss."
After this, the main body of the regiment, and the detachment under Colonel Palmer, assembled in camp near Chattanooga, and for two months were engaged in scouting for a long distance on all sides, frequently meeting bands of the enemy. On the 20th of December, Colonel Palmer, with his own and detachments from other regiments, to the number of six hundred men, proceeded to Decatur, whence he pushed forward on the south bank of the Tennessee River, in pursuit of Hood's demoralized troops, now in full retreat from Tennessee, having been thoroughly defeated in the battle of Nashville, by Thomas.
Without attempting to give the details of this eminently successful expedition, its character may be judged by the following summary of results: The capture of two hundred prisoners, including two colonels, three captains, and eight lieutenants, and the destruction of seven hundred and fifty stands of arms; the capture on the night of December 28th, of two pieces of General Roddy's artillery, with horses and equipments; the capture and complete destruction on the 31st, of the entire pontoon bridge, having seventyeight boats, on which Hood crossed the Tennessee River, with two hundred wagons loaded with tools, ropes, engineering instruments, and supplies; the capture on the night of January 1st, 1865, of a supply train of Hood, of one hundred and ten wagons, while on its way from Benton Station to Tuscaloosa, and its complete destruction; the surprise and complete rout on the Tuscaloosa Road, below Moulton, of the rebel Colonel Russell's regiment of cavalry, Fourth Alabama, and the capture and destruction of his train, with the papers and baggage of the brigade; and the repeated defeat and rout of Roddy's forces, causing their disbandment.
The entire loss of the command was one man killed and two wounded. It successfully eluded largely superior forces of the enemy while on its return to Decatur, and brought all its captures safely in.
Upon its return, the command was ordered to Huntsville for rest, but on the night following its arrival, Colonel Palmer was directed to take all his available mounted men, and intercept the rebel General Lyon at Fort Deposit. Failing in this, Colonel Palmer crossed the river in pursuit, came up with Lyon on January 16th, surprised his camp before daylight, and routed his command, capturing his only piece of artillery, and ninety-six prisoners, which were brought off. Lyon himself was taken, but succeeded in making his escape, after shooting the sergeant who had him in charge-the only loss. Colonel Palmer led out another scouting party on the 27th, of one hundred and fifty men, in pursuit of a guerrilla band under Colonel Meade, infesting the Cumberland Mountains, returning on the 6th of February, with one captain, two lieutenants, and twenty-three men prisoners.Before starting on the spring campaign, fresh horses were supplied, and the command was completely re-fitted for active service. General Stoneman was placed in command of the cavalry, and Colonel Palmer, who had been[ promoted to Brevet Brigadier General, was assigned to the command of the First Brigade of Gillem's Division, whereupon, Lieutenant Colonel Betts, who had been promoted from Major, took command of the regiment. Towards the close of March, Stoneman started on an important expedition towards North Carolina. On the 29th he reached Wilkesboro, where he had a skirmish. Ho here received intelligence which determined him to turn north, towards the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, which he fell to destroying, the Fifteenth being actively employed in this work. From this point, Major Wagner, with four companies, made a demonstration to within sight of Lynclhburg, Virginia, destroying two important railroad bridges. He re-joined the command, after an absence of ten days,, near Salisbury, North Carolina, having sustained a loss of one killed, and eight wounded and captured.
On the 19th of April, a detachment of the regiment, under Major Garner, destroyed a railroad bridge ten miles north of Greensboro, North Carolina, after a brisk skirmish with the guard. At the same time, Lieutenant Colonel Betts, with ninety men, surprised the camp of the Third South Carolina Cavalry, near Greensboro, and charged upon it, capturing the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Johnson, four of his officers, and forty-four men with their horses, regimental wagons, and camp equipage. On the following day, a detachment under Captain Kramer met and defeated a superior force of the enemy at Jamestown, destroying the depot and a truss-covered bridge at Deep River. On the 12th, Salisbury, North Carolina, was captured, and immense rebel stores destroyed, when the command turned towards Knoxville.
Towards the close of April, intelligence of the surrender of Lee and Johnston having been received, the division of General Gillem, now commanded by General Palmer, was ordered to proceed south for the capture of Jefferson Davis and train. Night and day, with the most untiring energy and skill, the pursuit was pushed.
On the 8th of May, seven wagons, containing the effects of the banks of Macon, were captured. " On the morning of the 8th inst.," says General Palmer in his official report., "while searching for Davis near the fork of the Appalachee and Oconee Livers, Colonel Betts, Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, captured seven wagons in the woods, which contained one hundred and eighty-eight thousand dollars in coin, one million five hundred and eighty-eight thousand dollars in bank notes, bonds, and securities, and about four millions of Confederate money, besides considerable specie, plate, and other valuables belonging to private citizens of Macon. The wagons contained also the private baggage, maps and official papers of Generals Beauregard and Pillow. Nothing was disturbed, and I send the whole in by railroad to Augusta, to the commanding officer of the United States forces, to await the action of the government."
Two days after, company G, Captain Samuel Phillips, captured General Bragg, his wife, staff officers, and three wagons, which were sent under guard to the headquarters of General Wilson. On the 15th, news was received of the capture of Davis and party by Colonel Pritchard, of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry, detachments from Colonel Betts' command being close upon his trail. The regiment now started northward, and on the 12th of June arrived at Nashville, where, on the 21st, it was mustered out of service.
Source for history & rosters: History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers 1861-1865; prepared in Compliance With Acts of the Legislature, by Samuel P. Bates, A Member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Volume IV, Harrisburg: B. Singerly, State Printer. 1871.