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Honor at Missionary Ridge, 15th Indiana Regiment Infantry
The 15th Indiana Regiment Infantry was organized, at Lafayette, Indiana, for one year's service, May 1861 and was re-organized for three years' service and mustered in June 14, 1861.
On November 25, 1863, the 15th Indiana was under orders to capture the Confederate rifle pits at the foot of Missionary Ridge. Muskets cracked and gun smoke rose in choking clouds as the 15th Indiana rushed into the battle. The regiment went face down on a road, well up on the Ridge, in a storm of lead. Suddenly within the galling musket fire Major White of the 15th Indiana gave the command, "Men, for God's sake forward!"
Immediately, Color-Sergeant George L. Banks got to his feet waving Regimental Standard and calling on his comrades to follow the Colors. The whole regiment surged forward to rally around the flag. Suddenly Banks, already wounded in the left thumb, was struck by a minie ball in the chest and was soundly knocked to the ground. While Banks was stunned and senseless, four fellow soldiers carried the Colors forward into a hail storm of bullets. Of the four gallant defenders of the flag: two were wounded, two were killed.
Coming to his senses, Banks realized he was not disabled. Luckily, the ball had struck a novel and two letters inside his shirt. He jumped to his feet running up the hill and seized the flag as it went down for the fifth time. Once more, Banks raised the Colors and called on his compatriots to follow the Colors!
As the 15th Indiana reached the Ridge, they saw the Confederates lower their guns. The men of the 15th dropped to the ground to avoid the volley and inescapable death. Before the rebels could reload the 15th Indiana stormed the Ridge. The chants of "Chickamauga! Chickamauga!" were heard from the Union soldiers. Banks scrabbled up the earthworks waving the stars and stripes and calling to his fellow soldiers. As the regiment captured the works on the crest of the Ridge, Color-Sergeant Banks received a second wound. This second wound was to the side of his head. As Banks fell backwards off the earthworks, Second Lieutenant Thomas Graham, of Company G, seized the flag and moved forward. Finally, the day was won by the Union troops.
Color-Sergeant George L. Banks received three wounds during this charge on Missionary Ridge. He won the Medal of Honor while carrying this flag at Missionary Ridge. Over half of the Medals of Honor bestowed upon soldiers, during the Civil War, had to do with carrying the Colors or related incidents with the flag. The tattered, torn, bullet ridden flag gives a silent testimony to the heroic acts of the men of the 15th Indiana Regiment.