154th Tennessee Infantry

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DixieRifles

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Cool. Thanks. The only time I re-enacted, it was with this unit.

It was known as a Senior regiment because it had been organized long before the war started.

The 154th Senior Regiment, Tennessee Infantry (1st Tennessee Volunteers) was organized in 1842 as the 154th Tennessee Militia Regiment. Reorganized at Randolph, Shelby County, Tennessee, in May, 1861.

The 154th (Senior) Infantry Regiment was organized in 1842 as the 154th Tennessee Militia Regiment. Reorganized at Randolph, Shelby County, Tennessee, in May, 1861, it was permitted to retain its old number. The men were from the counties of Shelby, Henry, McNairy, Hardeman, and Fayette. It fought at Belmont, Shiloh, and Richmond before being assigned to P.Smith's, Vaughan's, and Palmer's Brigade, Army of Tennessee. During April, 1863, it was consolidated with the 13th Regiment. It participated in the difficult campaigns of the army from Murfreesboro to Atlanta, returned to Tennessee with Hood, and was active in North Carolina. This regiment contained 802 men in July, 1861, had 13 disabled at Belmont, and lost thirty-one percent of the 650 engaged at Shiloh. It reported forty-one percent casualties of the 245 at Murfreesboro, and the 13th/154th totalled 428 men and 263 arms in December, 1863. The unit was included in the surrender on April 26, 1865.
Its commanders were Colonels Edward Fitzgerald, Michael Magevney, Jr., and Preston Smith; Lieutenant Colonels John W. Dawson and Marcus J. Wright; and Majors Jones Genette, John D. Martin, and Marsh M. Patrick.
 
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120px-William_Henry_Carroll.jpg

Col. William H. Carroll, pre-war commander of the 154th Militia
The 154th Tennessee Regiment was a pre-war organization. Originally raised in Memphis, Tennessee in 1842, its companies were grouped into a battalion and assigned the Tennessee number 154. It retained the numerical designation when the old militia system was abandoned by Tennessee in 1859. The regiment became a social organization by taking out a charter of incorporation on March 22, 1860; under command of Col. William H. Carroll. Based at Memphis, Tennessee its members were largely from Shelby County.

1861
When war was declared a year later, the 154th was organized in Randolph, Shelby County on May 14, 1861. It sought to retain its old number 154 as it was known as the "Oldest of the Old". Of notion is a great portion of immigrant volunteers from Ireland and the German states. It received permission to add the appellation "Senior" to its regimental number to indicate it predated regiments with lower numbers; and was also named "1st Tennessee Volunteers".[3]


The elected original field officers were Colonel Preston Smith, Lieutenant Colonel Marcus J. Wright and Major Jones Genette.

Company A (Light Guards) - Capt. James Genette - Shelby County (Major Genette was replaced by Capt. C. L. Powers)

Company B (Bluff City Grays) - Capt. James H. Edmondson - Shelby County (became an independent sharpshooter company in 1862)

Company B - Capt. H. E. DeGraffenried - Fayette County (organized on May 16, 1862)

Company C (Jackson Guards) - Capt. Michael Magevney Jr. - Shelby County

Company D (Memphis Zouaves / Harris Zouave Cadets) - Capt. Sterling Fowlkes - Shelby County

Company E (Hickory Rifles) - Capt. John D. Martin - Shelby County

Company F (Henry Guards) - Capt. Edward Fitzgerald - Henry County

150px-Preston_Smith.jpg

Col. Preston Smith, first commander of the 154th Infantry
Company G (Southern Guards) - Capt. James Hamilton - Shelby County (withdrew from regimental mustering and became "Company L, 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery")

Company G (The Beauregards) - Capt. James S. Moreland - Shelby County

Company H (Crockett Rangers) - Capt. Marsh M. Patrick - Shelby County

Company I (McNairy Guards) - Capt. Alphonso Cross - McNairy County

Company K (Sons of Liberty) - Capt. Thomas H. Hancock - Hardeman County

Company L (Maynard Rifles) - Capt. E. A. Cole - Shelby County (organized on March 8, 1862)

The Steuben Artillery was attached to the regiment during its state service, but disbanded in August 1861.



150px-Marcus_Joseph_Wright.jpg

Lt. Col. Marcus J. Wright commanded the regiment in Smith's absence
On August 13, 1861, at New Madrid, Missouri, the regiment was mustered into Confederate service with 802 men under arms. On September 7 it was brigaded under command of Col. Benjamin F. Cheatham. When Cheatham advanced to division command Preston Smith was given command of a small brigade including his own 154th as well as Blythe's Mississippi Regiment[4] and Hudson's Battery. Participating in the Battle of Belmont on November 7 the regiment was under command of Lt. Col. Wright. The regiment was one of the few that crossed the Mississippi River (in the steamer Kentucky) in the attempt to cut the Union's line of retreat. The command was not able to inhibit the retreat; though i.a. the regiment captured some military equipment and a dozen prisoners. Wright reports the regiment's losses as one man killed and 12 wounded.[3][5]

1862
150px-A_J_Vaughan%2C_Jr._CSA_ACW.jpg

Col. Alfred J. Vaughan, commander of the consolidated 13th-154th Infantry Regiment
In March 1862 the regiment received its new flag when Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard attempt to standardize the battle flags of the Army of Tennessee. It was made by sail maker Henry Cassidy in New Orleans and made of light weight cotton fabric with 12 6-pointed silk stars.[6] At Shiloh in April 1862 the brigade was under command of Brig. Gen. Bushrod R. Johnson and Smith commanded the regiment again. In the advance on April 6 the 154th was on the right of the brigade, the brigade and division being close to the center of the Confederate line. The division advanced against the Illinois division of Gen. McClernand. While the attack dislocated the enemy and led to the capture of numerous guns, the 154th alone taking four of the six guns of Dresser's Illinois battery, it didn't come without cost.[7] Generals Cheatham and Johnson were both wounded, i.a. reinstating Preston Smith as brigade commander and Wright to command the regiment. Afterwards the brigade was ordered to advance to the right against elements of W.H.L. Wallace's division. During this time companies B and G were separated from the regiment, and were not able to join their unit until the day's fighting ended; instead gathering and escorting prisoners of the previous clash. While the regiment moved in close support of the advancing artillery[8] the new Company L, armed with Maynard rifles, was detached to skirmish on the brigade's right, and stayed detached till the nightly hours of early April 7. When the rejoined regiment was ordered with the brigade to the Confederate line it was put under heavy fire from Gen. William "Bull" Nelson's newly arrived division; and together with a portion of another regiment (Blythe's) lost contact to the brigade. The regimental battle flag was lost 20 paces from the Union lines, several color bearers being shot on both days, but it was recaptured by Capt. George Mellersh.[9][10] Now in the general move to the rear it fell in with Jones M. Withers's division and retreated in good order. Starting the battle with about 650 men present it lost 23 killed, 163 wounded and 11 missing.[3][11]

Afterwards the 154th had a rapid succession of brigade assignments. In May it was reported in Donelson's brigade, in June in Fulton's and Russell's brigades; but finally, at Tupelo on July 8, it was given their final brigade assignment throughout the war - again in the brigade of Col. Preston Smith which was completed by the 12th, 13th and 47th Tennessee Infantry Regiments as well as Bankhead's Battery. Also part of Smith's brigade was Edmondson's Sharpshooter Company, which has been Company B of the 154th till now.[3] Lt. Col. Wright, himself being wounded at Shiloh on April 6 and appointed military governor of Columbus, Kentucky, transferred from the regiment and served as Adjutant General to Gen. Cheatham.[12]As the last Major, John D. Martin, raised and commanded the 25th Mississippi Infantry; the regiment was commanded by Major Edward Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was made Colonel; but was killed on August 30 in the Battle of Richmond. His successor as regimental commander was Lt. Col., Irishman Michael Magevney.[13] In December 1862 only 245 men were present for the Battle of Stones River, in which 41% were lost (14 killed, 84 wounded and 4 missing).[14]

1863
The small regiment went into winter quarters at Shelbyville, Tennessee. Here it was consolidated with the equally-depleted 13th Tennessee Infantry Regiment and constituted the 13th-154th Tenneessee Infantry Regiment with Col. Alfred J. Vaughan of the 13th in overall command; though the muster rolls were kept separated for the duration of the war. After the Tullahoma Campaign in mid 1863 Smith's brigade (still in Cheatham's Division of Polk's Corps) consisted of the 11th, 12th-47th, 13th-154th and 29th Tennessee regiments as well as a detachment of sharpshooters known as Dawson's Sharpshooter Battalion.

Later war
The 154th Tennessee Infantry surrendered with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston at Greensboro, North Carolina on May 2, 1865.



Source:
 
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Michael Magevney was born around the year 1835 in Co. Fermanagh. He was a schoolteacher in Ireland and emigrated to the United States in 1854, settling in Memphis Tennessee. He was perhaps influenced in his choice of location by his uncle, Eugene Magevney, who had become a well known teacher in that city having himself settled there in the 1830s. Prior to the war Michael had worked as a book-keeper, marrying Ellen Murphy. He was involved in the volunteer militia before the war, and on 14th May 1861 became a Captain in the 154th (Senior) Tennessee Infantry on that units organisation. He commanded the regiment’s largely Irish Company C, ‘The Jackson Guards’. The 154th Tennessee had an unusual history in that it had originally been the 154th Tennessee Militia Regiment, with its origins in 1842. They retained this number when they mustered into service at the outbreak of war. As it had a significantly longer history than those Tennessee regiments with lower numbers, it was granted permission to include ‘senior’ in its title to distinguish itself from them. (1)

The regiment had 802 men under arms at Fort Wright in July 1861. They first tasted action at the Battle of Belmont, Missouri on 7th November of that year where they lost one man killed and 12 wounded. At the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862 both Colonel Preston Smith and Lieutenant-Colonel Marcus J. Wright were wounded as the regiment lost 25 men dead, 163 wounded and 11 missing. The injuries to the senior commanders resulted in Magevney’s promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel. He rose to command the regiment following the death of Colonel Edward Fitzgerald at Richmond, Kentucky on 30th August 1862 when the 154th were serving under Corkman Patrick Ronayne Cleburne. Lieutenant-Colonel Magevney led what was by late 1862 a battalion of 245 men into the Battle of Murfreesboro, seeing action on 30th and 31st December 1862. They lost 14 killed, 83 wounded and 3 missing during the fight. By 1st March 1863 what was left of his regiment was consolidated with the 13th Tennessee, becoming the 13th/154th Tennessee with Colonel Vaughan of the 13th assuming command. Magevney commanded the post of Okolona, Mississippi with the rank of Colonel in 1863, and by the time of the Atlanta Campaign in 1864 he was leading the 13th/154th. During this period the regiment saw heavy fighting at locations such as the Dead Angle at Kennesaw Mountain. The Irishman rose to temporary brigade command for the period from 10th July 1864 to 31st August 1864. He was wounded in the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee on 30th November 1864, and was captured at the disastrous Battle of Nashville on 16th December 1864. (2)

Michael Magevney Jr. was held as a prisoner at Johnson’s Island, Ohio for the remainder of the war, eventually being released on 22nd May 1865. He returned to Memphis where he became a merchant, and although he became initially successful and wealthy he lost his fortune, perhaps a result of the alcoholism which was given as his cause of death on 21st September 1883. He was buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis but was re interred at Calvary Cemetery in the same city in 1887. His obituary remarked that he was ‘a man of remarkable coolness and courage…of extensive reading, fine culture, and delicate sensibilities.’ (3)

https://irishamericancivilwar.com/2011/03/21/irish-colonels-michael-magevney-jr-154th-tennessee-infantry/
 
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OldReliable1862

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The Wiki article includes Perryville in the list of major battles the 154th participated in, but I can't find them in the Civil War Trust map. Does anyone know if they were there or not?
 
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If I see the same map as you I can´t see the whole brigade. Preston Smith`s brigade did not arrive with the division but much later due to different orders. It was to be right of Adams`s brigade and marched to the town to guard the flank and rear; essentially being in reserve. Apparently the brigade was briefly engaged in the evening (with Carlin`s brigade), suffering a loss of 5 men during the whole battle.
 
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OldReliable1862

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The confused night fighting at Chickamauga might be my favorite action the 154th was at (I think it could make a pretty good regimental-level wargame scenario).
 
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OldReliable1862

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Does anyone know if any histories or memiors have been written on the 154th or the Smith-Vaughan-Gordon brigade? I know Lawrence K. Peterson wrote a biography of Alfred J. Vaughan, but I don't know of any others.
 
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James N.

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Cool. Thanks. The only time I re-enacted, it was with this unit.

It was known as a Senior regiment because it had been organized long before the war started.

The 154th Senior Regiment, Tennessee Infantry (1st Tennessee Volunteers) was organized in 1842 as the 154th Tennessee Militia Regiment. Reorganized at Randolph, Shelby County, Tennessee, in May, 1861.

The 154th (Senior) Infantry Regiment was organized in 1842 as the 154th Tennessee Militia Regiment. Reorganized at Randolph, Shelby County, Tennessee, in May, 1861, it was permitted to retain its old number. The men were from the counties of Shelby, Henry, McNairy, Hardeman, and Fayette. It fought at Belmont, Shiloh, and Richmond before being assigned to P.Smith's, Vaughan's, and Palmer's Brigade, Army of Tennessee. During April, 1863, it was consolidated with the 13th Regiment. It participated in the difficult campaigns of the army from Murfreesboro to Atlanta, returned to Tennessee with Hood, and was active in North Carolina. This regiment contained 802 men in July, 1861, had 13 disabled at Belmont, and lost thirty-one percent of the 650 engaged at Shiloh. It reported forty-one percent casualties of the 245 at Murfreesboro, and the 13th/154th totalled 428 men and 263 arms in December, 1863. The unit was included in the surrender on April 26, 1865.
Its commanders were Colonels Edward Fitzgerald, Michael Magevney, Jr., and Preston Smith; Lieutenant Colonels John W. Dawson and Marcus J. Wright; and Majors Jones Genette, John D. Martin, and Marsh M. Patrick.
Thanks for the explanation of this extremely high regimental number!
 
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As said before Tennessee had a sort of continuous regimental number system in the militia before reorganizing it and thus lots of high numbers, eg. the 109th and 110th in the 1830s already. And the senior stemmed from the 154th essentially being older than the lower-numbered new volunteer units (hence being also known as 1st Tennessee Volunteers but usually keeping the old militia number).
 
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