Report of Lieut. Col. James W. Jackson, Forty-seventh Alabama Infantry.
Camp Near Liberty Mills, Va,
August 13, 1862.
Colonel: On Saturday last, 4 p. m., the 9th instant, I arrived with my regiment (the Forty-seventh Alabama) within range of the enemy’s batteries that had opened on the advancing columns of our army. We were allowed to rest a few minutes, when we were again ordered to advance and take our position under the range of the enemy’s guns. We advanced along the road for the distance of a mile, with the enemy’s shells bursting over our heads; but as we were within the range given to their guns no damage was done to my regiment. When the position desired by our brigade commander was gained we were ordered to join our line of battle and lie down. By this time the cannonade was in quick succession. The men under my command behaved themselves very well, although somewhat confused at the bursting of the shells over their heads; but after remaining a short time they became quiet. We remained about forty minutes in this position without sustaining any loss, when the order was given by General Taliaferro to advance in line of battle. I repeated the command to the regiment, when they advanced in tolerable order the distance of 50 yards, when we approached a fence, which we crossed, and found our-selves in the presence of the enemy’s infantry, which had opened on us with some effect. I formed my men in line of battle about 300 yards from the line of the enemy and opened fire on them. Although it was the first battle any of my men had ever been in, yet they behaved themselves very well, and returned the fire in quick succession and a good deal of deliberation. Affairs remained in this position for about twenty minutes, when we found ourselves attacked from a very unlooked-for quarter. The enemy, having flanked us, had come around to our rear, and were pouring heavy volleys on us at the distance of 40 paces. As soon as I discovered this new enemy, I gave the command to face about. A few companies of the right wing obeyed the command, but the left, not understanding the order and being subjected to a severe cross-fire, gave way and retreated across the field. As soon as the left gave way the right also got into confusion and followed the left. I made repeated efforts to rally the regiment, but finding it impossible to do so under the cross-fire they were subjected to, I followed them across the field and over a hill that screened them from the balls of the enemy. As soon as they found themselves out of range they halted and began of themselves to rally to their standard. I encouraged them as much as my exhausted state from fatigue and feeble health would permit, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing most of them returning to duty. I ordered the colors to advance, which they did, and the regiment followed, though without any line of battle. I remained behind sending up those that showed less inclination to advance. I soon found it would be impossible to get them in regular line, and therefore staid a few paces in the rear, hurrying to [those] that lagged behind and preventing them from firing among those in advance. We continued to advance in this open way to within 200 yards of the enemy, drawn up in another field on the opposite side of the field. The advance of our line at this point made a halt, and very deliberately returned the fire of the enemy. I encouraged those in the rear to advance as far as their friends had, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing them slowly make their way to the front. The front line, seeing the rear advance, also advanced, and the enemy in a few minutes began to give ground. At this point we were charged by a body of cavalry, but meeting with a galling fire from our line they retreated with considerable loss. Our men now advanced in quick time and the enemy’s retrograde move became a complete rout. We continued to pursue them from one field to another until about 9 p. m., when our men, becoming exhausted, made a halt and took no further part in the action.
The number of killed in my regiment was 11 men and 1 captain — Captain Menefee, who fell at the time we were flanked by the enemy. The captain conducted himself with great gallantry and the regiment has sustained a great loss in his death. We had also 90 men wounded, including those that were wounded slightly. I think the wounded, with a few exceptions, will recover.
The above, sir, is an outline of the part played by the Forty-seventh Alabama Regiment in the late action between Generals Jackson’s and Pope’s forces near Culpeper Court-House.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. W. JACKSON,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Forty-seventh Regt. Alabama Vols.
Col. [A. G] Taliaferro,
Comdg. Third Brigade, Army Valley [District].