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15th Virginia Infantry History

Identifier: Ms-2009-111

Scope and Content

The 15th Virginia Infantry History is a handwritten account by enlisted soldier Claybrook Y. Lain regarding the formation and activities of a Confederate regiment from 1861 to 1862 during the American Civil War. Lain, writing as an omniscient narrator, only infrequently refers to himself within the text.

Significant topics within the history include: the creation of the "15th Virginia Regiment," the background of individual companies and the merit of their commanders, the Battle at Bethel Church, the dearth of supplies, the use of alcohol, the movement of soldiers, and the management of the camp by a colonel from the Virginia Military Institute. Lain writes of a particularly interesting incident in which the students from the Virginia Military Institute, aiding in camp management, attempt to trick a soldier out of his musket only to find that the soldier retained a six shooter and could forcibly recover his firearm. Several military commanders are mentioned specifically, and include: Colonel Harvie, Colonel Thomas P. August, Colonel Gilharn, and Colonel Stuart among others. Some considerable Virginia locations (cities, camps, and forts) mentioned within the history are Richmond, Williamsburg, Hampton, Yorktown, Newport News, Young's Mill, Camp Adams, and Fort Powhatan. The history ends in 1862; therefore, Lain's history omits the final years of the Civil War and the eventual results of the conflict.

Also included with the 15th Virginia Infantry History are reproductions of Lain's military service records from 1861 to 1864, including specifically records of his enlistment, pay, death, and final beneficiaries.


  • 1861 - 1864


Language of Materials

The material in the collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.

Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

Claybrook Y. Lain (variously spelled Lane and Layne) was born in Albemarle, Virginia, to Elizabeth Lain in the 1830s. During the American Civil War, in Richmond, on April 23, 1861, Lain joined the 15th Virginia Infantry. In 1862, Lain was promoted to first sergeant and between August and October of 1863, he became the regimental commissary sergeant. Lain died during the Battle of Drewry's Bluff, on May 16, 1864, and left behind his mother as sole beneficiary--Lain was unmarried. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

External source: "SGT Claybrook Y Lain",,, accessed April 17, 2023.

Administrative History

The 15th Virginia Infantry, initially called the 3rd Virginia Regiment, of the Confederate Army was originally formed from ten companies taken from Richmond and its surrounding area--some companies even predated the southern states' succession from the Union, beginning the American Civil War. The original company names were: Henrico Grays, Virginia Life Guards, Patrick Henry's Rifles, Henrico Guard, Ashland Grays, Emmett Guard, Henrico Southern Guard, Young Guard, Hanover Grays, and Marion Rifles. These companies later held alphabetical designations. (A relatively diverse "regiment," the Emmett Guard was composed largely of Irish citizens while the Marion Rifles included German citizens.) The 15th Virginia Infantry was involved in significant battles at Bethel Church, Savage Station, Malvern Hill, South Mountain, and Sharpsburg.


0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)


The collection contains a history of the 15th Virginia Infantry, covering its formation in April 1861 to the spring of 1862, written by enlisted soldier Claybrook Y. Lain. Includes copies of Confederate company records concerning Lain's enlistment, payment, death, and beneficiaries.

Source of Acquisition

The 15th Virginia Infantry History was purchased by Special Collections in 2004.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the 15th Virginia Infantry History by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing and description of the 15th Virginia Infantry History commenced in July 2009 and was completed in October 2009.

15th Virginia Infantry History, 1861-1864
Emily Cook, Student Assistant
2009 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US