15th Tennessee Regiment: Significance

men-of-valorThere are many factors that make the 15th Tennessee a truly unique story in the Civil War. Leaving a state that was pledged to the Union to fight for the South, battling against in-laws at Belmont, and suffering extreme losses for a cause that others in the Egypt community abandoned, make Company G a strange unit. With an 18% desertion rate, and only one of the Twelve Apostles left standing in 1865, it’s hard to imagine what caused the men to leave Illinois and fight for the South in the first place. (Gleeson p. xv) The story of Company G further proves that secession in Little Egypt was not a widespread belief. In a community of thousands, only 34 men were committed enough to the South to fight for it, and of those only one, Thorndike Brooks, made it to the end of the war. Company G’s history shows that rebellion in Southern Illinois was simply the product of a handful of men. Those that may have felt the southern sympathies common to Egypt simply deserted when the fighting became dangerous. Fewer men such as Brooks and Metcalf who truly did believe in a southern cause were simply radicals who were outliers to the true position of Little Egypt residents, evident in their post-war abandonment of the state, and continued support for the Confederacy. The account of Company G is evidence that the alleged rebellion in Southern Illinois was the doing of a few idealist who participated in one of the most peculiar military regiments in the Civil War.