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Price's Missouri Expedition: Col. Sydney D. Jackman's Official Report

Posted by The Muse (themuse) on Jul 21 2018
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Sidney D. JackmanAugust 29-December 2, 1864.—Price's Missouri Expedition

Report of Col. Sidney D. Jackman, Jackman's Missouri Cavalry, commanding brigade

Hdqrs. Jackman's Brig., Shelby's Div., Army of Mo., Clarksville, Tex., November 30, 1864.

To: Major [John N.] Edwards, Assistant Adjutant-General

SIR: I beg leave to submit the following report of the operations of this brigade from the 20th of August last to the present time:

This brigade on the 20th of August last was encamped near Batesville, and consisted of the regiments of Colonels [Dewitt C.] Hunter and [John T.] Coffee and my own regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel [C. H.] Nichols, and the battalion of Lieutenant-Colonel [John A.] Schnable, its entire strength being about 1,500. Of this force about 500 men were armed with either guns or pistols or both. On the 19th of August I received orders from Brigadier-General [Joseph O.] Shelby to move with the armed portion of my command to Fairview, in the State of Arkansas, and there form a junction with Colonel [David] Shanks, commanding brigade. At an early hour on the morning of the 20th I set my command in motion, moving about 500 armed men. We reached Fairview in the evening of that day, when I reported to the brigadier-general in person. On the 21st, 22d, and 23d we moved with the entire force by slow marches in the direction of the Memphis and Little Rock Railroad, and encamped in the evening of the last day thirteen miles from this road.

At daylight on the morning of the 24th I again moved out my command, and after marching in common time for five or six miles I was directed by General Shelby to detach Colonel Hunter with his regiment and send him on a road intersecting the railroad at a point some ten miles west of Devall's Bluff and east of Ashley's Station, where he intended to strike the enemy, and move up the remainder of the command at a brisk trot. Marching in quick time I soon reached the edge of the prairie and found Colonel Shanks already engaging the enemy. I immediately deployed into line on his right, but before any part of my brigade became engaged the enemy, numbering 150 men, surrendered. After the capture of this force by the direction of General Shelby I fell back to the timber and formed on the left of the battery for its protection. At 2 p.m. I received orders to move upon and capture the force occupying Jones' Hay Station, on the railroad. On reaching its vicinity I found it already partially invested by the forces respectively commanded by Colonel Hunter, Lieutenant-Colonel [William H.] Erwin, Major McDaniel, and Captain Williams. I formed a line fronting the enemy, with my right resting on the left of Lieutenant-Colonel Erwin and my left in the direction of Colonel Hunter's right, but with a considerable interval between the two. Upon learning the situation I sent a flag by the hand of Major Beard and Lieutenant Mills, of my staff, to the officer commanding the fort, requiring an immediate surrender of the place, and was replied to by him that his duty demanded of him to hold the place as long as possible. Being satisfied that the enemy could make a vigorous defense, and that his capture would require an expenditure of life disproportionate to the value of the fort if the attack was made by me unsupported, I sent a staff officer to General Shelby requesting him to send me a section of artillery. It was not long before he arrived in person with the artillery and the command of Colonel Shanks. Colonel Shanks was placed in position on my left, and his command and that of mine dismounted, and under a well-directed fire of the artillery moved forward in a charge on the fort. The enemy yielded, making but a feeble resistance. Thus by this action, without any sacrifice, some 400 prisoners were secured, together with a large lot of stores. Colonel Nichols captured the Federal banner--a beautiful one, indeed.

Immediately after the capture my command was ordered to mount and form to receive a force of the enemy that was already engaging Colonel Hunter on the extreme left. Colonel Hunter fell back slowly and in excellent order, and the enemy had soon approached near enough for the remainder of my command to engage him. He was met by a severe fire, which was sustained for about an hour, at the end of which time I was directed by General Shelby to fall back to the timber. I had no difficulty in holding my men in hand, and they fell back without confusion to the cover of the wood.
This was the first engagement in which I had commanded the troops of Colonel Hunter and of Schnable's battalion, and a good many of the men of my own regiment were new to me. As a matter of course I felt great anxiety as to their conduct on the field, especially as they were engaged upon the right of Colonel Shanks' veteran brigade; but my fears were soon relieved, and I am gratified in believing that the behavior of officers and men met the approbation of Brigadier-General Shelby.

During this engagement I lost 5 men killed and 37 wounded. My horse among the many was shot and abandoned. 

The command moved all night, and reached Stony Point about 10 a.m. of the 25th, where we camped the remainder of that day and night. On the morning of the 26th we were again put in motion, Lieutenant-Colonel Nichols being detached with his regiment by the brigadier-general commanding to form a part of the rear guard of the army, the enemy having advanced and made a demonstration. The remainder of my brigade being in front moved on uninterrupted. During the night of the 26th Lieutenant-Colonel Nichols reported to me, and my command being again united I moved in the direction of Batesville, near which place I went into camp on the 31st of August. From this time to the 7th of September we were disturbed by occasional news of the advance of the enemy that caused from time to time a change in the disposition of the command, but still remained encamped near Batesville.

On the 8th and 9th of September, by an order from General Shelby, I moved in the direction of Hookrum, near which point I camped for several days. On the 14th I received orders to move to Pocahontas. I reached its vicinity on the 17th and encamped at Bollinger's Mills, on Fourche de Mas. On the 19th I moved to Doniphan, on the border of Missouri. The town had been recently sacked and evacuated by a small force of the enemy. Under an order from General Shelby I furnished a detail of thirty men to Colonel [Major Rector] Johnson, who started in pursuit and overtook him some twenty miles distant. During a little engagement that followed we sustained a loss of 2 men killed and 5 wounded. From the 20th to the 26th there was nothing to disturb the quiet of the march. On the night of the 26th we camped six miles from the Iron Mountain road and on the dirt road leading from Farmington to Potosi. On the 27th we moved across the railroad, which we found effectually damaged by Colonel Shanks' brigade, upon Potosi. The town and force defending it were already captured. On the 28th the command moved to Caledonia, and at 8 p.m. the brigade was ordered to join in the pursuit of the forces retreating from Pilot Knob. This pursuit was continued during the night and day succeeding. About 6 p.m. the rear of the enemy's column was overtaken, and my brigade was formed as a support for Captain [Richard A.] Collins' battery, but night coming on and the enemy having secured a strong position, we were ordered to fall back to camp. On the 30th of September and 1st of October the command moved along the Rolla railroad, frequently halting to tear it up. The road was severely injured.

On the evening of the 2d [1st?] we turned in the direction of Union, some ten miles north of the Rolla road, General [John B.] Clark [Jr.]'s brigade being in advance. We reached the town at 4 p.m., but before my line was formed the artillery opened, and the enemy taking the alarm, only an inconsiderable number were captured. In this engagement I lost 1 brave soldier. On the 3d Colonel Coffee with his regiment was relieved from duty in the brigade by order of Brigadier-General Shelby and directed to report to Major-General [Sterling] Price. On the 4th, 5th, and 6th I moved in the direction of Jefferson City. In the evening of the 6th my command crossed the Osage River and was ordered forward to join Colonel Shanks, who had already encountered the enemy in small force. The pursuit was continued for about three miles, when, not coming up with the Federals and night being upon us, I was ordered to halt for the night. On the 7th the command moved on the road to Jefferson City, and on reaching a point two miles from the city we turned to the left and halted for the night in line of battle fronting the enemy. By order of General Shelby Lieutenant-Colonel Schnable with his battalion was placed on picket duty a mile and a half from Jefferson City. During the morning of the 8th the enemy drove in his vedettes, and after making several unsuccessful charges upon him with superior numbers, finally flanked him and forced him to withdraw with a loss of 2 killed and 5 wounded.

On the 8th, 9th, and 10th we moved toward Boonville, which place we reached during the evening of the latter day. At 3 p.m. of the 11th I was ordered on the Georgetown road, five miles out from Boonville, to meet a force of the enemy making a demonstration there. On reaching the point designated I found that the force had disappeared. At 4.30 p.m. I received an order from General Shelby to move across to the Tipton and Boonville road, a distance of seven miles, and fall upon the flank and rear of a force of the enemy in line of battle there. Immediately on the receipt of this order I moved my brigade rapidly in the direction indicated, but meeting with a good deal of difficulty in finding the road, and being compelled to march through a badly broken country without a road or guide, I did not succeed in coming up with the enemy until about dusk. Upon discovering him I formed so as to strike him in flank, but before my formation was complete he commenced withdrawing in column on the Tipton road. I moved at once in pursuit and pressed close upon him to the bridge across the Tête Saline River.

Finding a considerable force occupying the bottom on the other side, and knowing nothing of the country, I determined to rest the pursuit there until morning, and in the meantime communicate the situation to General Shelby. Falling back a mile with the major part of my command, I left Lieutenant-Colonel Nichols with his regiment on picket in front of the enemy. Colonel Hunter I placed in position three-quarters of a mile in the rear of Nichols, so that he might be in supporting distance and at the same time cover a road that made off from the main road at that point, while Lieutenant-Colonel Schnable was ordered to remain in line of battle 300 yards in the rear of Colonel Hunter, but fronting toward Boonville. I made this disposition of my force from the fact that I had not yet opened up communication with the town, and did not know but that a force of the enemy might be between me and it.

We continued to occupy this position during the night, and at daylight on the morning of the 12th, when the enemy opened on Lieutenant-Colonel Nichols. Having ascertained that my rear was clear, I ordered Colonel Hunter up and ordered him to take a position 300 yards in the rear of Nichols. After sustaining a vigorous fight for half an hour Nichols fell back slowly to the rear of Colonel Hunter, where he immediately reformed.
In the meantime Colonel Hunter became sharply engaged. After maintaining a brisk fight for half an hour he fell back on Lieutenant-Colonel Schnable. Satisfied by this time that the force of the enemy was largely superior to mine, I determined to fall back, so as to cover a road from Tipton to Boonville leading into the one we were now defending about a mile in our rear, and in order to secure a good position for my whole force. On reaching the point I had in view I dismounted Nichols' and Schnable's commands and placed them under the shelter of a fence, where they soon met the attack of the enemy. A fight ensued of an hour's length, after which I succeeded in driving the enemy back along the road over which we had but a short time before retreated and across the bridge over the Tête Saline River, a distance of one mile and a half, inflicting serious injury upon him.

During this engagement my command sustained a loss of 4 men killed and 20 wounded (Captain King, a brave officer, among the wounded), the loss falling heaviest on Schnable's battalion. A good many horses were killed and wounded. My own horse was severely shot.

The officers and men deserve great praise for the coolness and obstinacy with which they maintained this fight, holding their ground and falling back alike in perfect order. Number of my men in this engagement 600; that of the enemy a full brigade.

At the conclusion of the fight General [James F.] Fagan with a portion of his command came upon the ground. The enemy having retreated, I was ordered to return to Boonville. At 2 a.m. on the morning of the 12th [13th?] we took up our line of march, and on the night of the 13th encamped on Blackwater. During this night I received orders to report a picked force of 500 men from my brigade to General Clark for an expedition to North Missouri.

I moved early on the morning of the 14th, and crossing the river at Arrow Rock I was ordered to co-operate with him in an attack on Glasgow. On reaching the suburbs of this place I was ordered to form on the left of General Clark's brigade and invest the town on the south. My line was soon formed and skirmishers thrown out, when at the command my men advanced gallantly. We soon met a galling fire from the sharpshooters of the enemy, but advancing steadily we drove them into their intrenchments. A large number of my men had secured shelter within forty yards of the works, where they annoyed the enemy severely, when I was directed by General Clark to hold my position until further orders. A continued fire was kept up for several hours, when I visited the general for the purpose of urging him to move at once upon the fort. During our consultation negotiations for the surrender of the place were opened, which resulted in an agreement to surrender the place on condition that the men were to be treated as prisoners of war and the officers permitted to retain their side-arms and private property. This capture was a valuable one in the way of stores of all kinds and new and superior guns. About 800 prisoners were captured. While in this connection I would state that General Shelby from the south side of the river had opened fire upon the town two hours before our arrival, and was of great help to our assaulting column by his well-directed fire.
On the morning of the 16th I received orders to recross the river, and during the night of the 17th rejoined the main army, encamped on the Salt Fork of Blackwater. On the morning of the 21st we were in the saddle at sunrise, and moved to the crossing of Little Blue, at old Camp Holloway, where, by order, my whole command, with the exception of Nichols' regiment, was dismounted and thrown across the creek into line. This part of my command pressed forward eagerly, but did not succeed in reaching the enemy. The regiment of Lieutenant-Colonel Nichols made a spirited charge upon the enemy's line, breaking and driving it back in confusion. The conduct of himself and men was highly praised by all who witnessed it.

On the morning of the 22d, after having encamped the night previous at Independence, I was ordered out on the Kansas City road, with instructions to drive back the force of the enemy engaging our pickets on that road. When on reaching the point designated General Shelby arrived and directed me to turn to the right and guard the right flank of the army until the train passed, when I was to be relieved by General Fagan, and report to him with my command at the head of the column. At the proper time Nichols' and Schnable's commands were relieved, Hunter's and Coleman's regiments being directed to await orders. I moved at once with Nichols and Schnable to the front, when soon after crossing Big Blue I overtook and reported to General Shelby. I was directed by the general to move forward rapidly to the assistance of Colonel Gordon, who was being pressed by the enemy. I moved briskly across the prairie and soon came in sight of his force. Nichols' and Schnable's men fronted into line at a gallop. The enemy having fallen back to the cover of some small timber and in the rear of their artillery, which was playing upon us, I ordered a charge and the whole command swept forward in gallant style, driving the Federals, utterly routed and demoralized, from their shelter, pursuing them across the prairie, killing and capturing them in considerable numbers. They were completely broken, in their flight leaving in our hands a 24-pounder howitzer (brass), its caisson, and ammunition for it; also several wagons and teams.

With a squad of about 100 men I continued the pursuit for several miles, doing good work on the fleeing enemy. Upon my return to the field I found that part of my force left behind, having in the meantime been joined by the regiments of Colonels Hunter and [W. O.] Coleman, pressed by a considerable body of Federals, who had appeared from the direction of Westport. Notwithstanding the superiority of this force we succeeded in holding our ground until night. About dusk General [M. Jeff] Thompson arrived with re-enforcements, but too late for the action.

Our loss during the day was slight. Quite a number of horses were killed or wounded. Lieutenant-Colonels Nichols and Schnable had their horses killed. My horse was severely wounded.

The morning of the 23d at 9 a.m. my command, by direction of Brigadier-General Shelby, was moved out in line of battle in concert with General Thompson's to meet the enemy advancing from Westport. A severe fight soon ensued, which resulted in a temporary success to him. Our forces, however, soon rallied, and turning drove him from the field. About 12 o'clock I received an order from General Shelby to fall back across the prairie to the point where the gun was captured the evening before and report to General Fagan, who was in pressing need. I immediately moved out, and on the way met an order from General Fagan to move as rapidly as possible, as the enemy were demonstrating in heavy force on his front. Upon reaching the general I was ordered by him to dismount my men and receive a charge of the enemy's cavalry. I formed my men on foot and directed them to withhold their fire until the Federals were in point-blank range.

In the meantime they came on in a swinging trot, and when within eighty yards at the command a destructive fire was poured into them, killing and wounding a large number of men and horses, and causing their line to reel and break. The line of the enemy being much longer than ours, their right continued to advance, but turning and pouring a well-directed fire into it, it fell back in confusion. By this time the enemy were covering the prairie, threatening from every point, and my horses being exposed I ordered my men to mount. After mounting we formed a number of times in falling back and took position until the enemy disappeared, when I moved off in the rear of the army. During this last engagement, Captain Collins, of the battery of General Thompson's brigade, came to my assistance with his only remaining gun and fought gallantly until the command fell back.

In this fight my brigade, although placed in a perilous condition, on foot, and threatened by superior numbers, behaved with a steadiness and courage beyond common praise. A considerable loss was sustained by the brigade in the various engagements of these two days; some 25 men were killed and 80 wounded. We were so unfortunate as to lose Major Yontz, of Colonel Hunter's regiment, who received a wound from which he subsequently died. Major Beard, my assistant adjutant-general, was wounded in the thigh, and Captain Thompson, of my staff, was either killed or captured, which I have never ascertained. At this point the falling back of the army commenced and continued uninterrupted, so far as my brigade was concerned, until the evening of the 25th.

On the morning of this day I was moved out in advance of the train. About 1 o'clock I received an order from General Price to park the train and fall back to Osage River, to prevent the enemy from crossing that stream. I directed Major [Isaac] Brinker, chief quartermaster of the army, who was at his proper place, to park the train, and I moved back as rapidly as possible. I had not time to form before I was ordered to the front to protect the train, which the enemy were threatening. I had hardly executed the command when I received orders from General Shelby to return at once to the rear to his relief. I pressed rapidly on, and getting near enough to obtain a view of the scene of action, I discovered that General Thompson's brigade alone of the entire force was engaged, and that it was outnumbered at least three to one. The general and his command were holding their ground in gallant style, though evidently about to yield the unequal contest. I threw my men into line at a full dash and ordered a charge, which was bravely executed through the retreating command of General Thompson. This charge was so promptly made that the enemy was driven back on his support. Finding myself largely outnumbered I withdrew, the enemy not attempting pursuit. During the remainder of this day's march my brigade, with a small portion of General Thompson's, brought up the rear of the army, remaining in this position during the night's encampment on the Marmaton River.
In this engagement I sustained a loss of 4 killed and 10 wounded. On the morning of the 26th I furnished details to destroy the train ordered, covering with my brigade their operation and bringing up the rear the entire day. On the evening of the 28th, while in camp three miles south of Newtonia, I was ordered by General Shelby to move my entire command on foot to co-operate with General Thompson in repelling an attack from the enemy, who had again appeared. I was directed by him to leave Hunter's and Nichols' regiments to support the battery of the division, and to put the commands of Lieutenant-Colonel Schnable, Colonel Coleman, and Major Shaw into the fight. This order was executed at once. After engaging the enemy sharply for some little time he was driven back. The brigade sustained a loss of 10 wounded.

On the morning of the 30th Colonel Hunter, Lieutenant-Colonel Nichols, and Lieutenant-Colonel Schnable left the line of march of the main army, by permission of the brigadier-general commanding, in order to give their men an opportunity of visiting their friends in Northern Arkansas. At the same time Colonel Coleman left with his regiment. On the same day Captain Williams, with his regiment of recruits, was ordered to report to me, and this command with some small detachments constituted my force on this recent march. The retreat from the Missouri border to Red River was a severe trial to this regiment, and under their sufferings a great many of the men became insubordinate and were disposed to complain unnecessarily; but a large portion of their suffering was the result of their own inefficiency. It was frequently a difficult matter to obtain details from the command to procure beef for its own use, and finally they became so refractory that they would not leave the line of march to look for meat for themselves unless when stimulated by excessive hunger. They complain that they were reduced at one time to the necessity of subsisting on horse-flesh, but my settled opinion is that this resulted from their own indolence. I make this statement as I feel it due in justice to Major-General Price and Brigadier-General Shelby. I will say, however, that Captain Williams is to be excepted from this censure. He was unremitting in his attention to the command and never hesitated at any sacrifice of time or labor to secure cheerfulness in it.

In conclusion I feel that it would be unjust to fail in mentioning the meritorious services of a good many officers and soldiers of the brigade, yet when such a number did their duty and some must be omitted the discrimination may be unequally unfair. I must, however, draw your favorable attention to Colonel Hunter and Lieutenant-Colonel Fullbright, the last of whom has been recently promoted to his present position, but who on every occasion discharged his duty with soldierly care and courage; to Lieutenant-Colonel Nichols, who distinguished himself for his cavalry dash, and to Major Newton and to Lieutenant-Colonel Schnable, who sustained his fighting reputation on every field, while Captains Marchbank and Rowland Wilson and Lemons were always conspicuous for their gallantry and won for themselves the most distinguished consideration. Captain Lemons was brave and energetic on the field, but deserves censure for leaving the command without permission.

The various members of my staff are entitled to my thanks for the constancy with which they everywhere supported me on this trying trip.
Major Beard, acting assistant adjutant-general, was at all times present where his duty called him, whether that point might be the post of danger or where the more tedious labors of his office called him.

I cannot close this list without paying a last tribute of respect to the memory of Capt. J. Drury Pulliam, my junior assistant adjutant-general. By permission he had gone in advance of the army into Missouri for the purpose of recruiting a command, when he was captured and brutally murdered. I had been intimately associated with him for two years, and had watched him when his character was tested by every conceivable danger in the sternest degree, and the result of my observation was that I had never known a young man of more daring or chivalry.

The brigade upon the whole did its duty well. On the march into Missouri it was newly organized and poorly armed, and necessarily moved in the rear. On the retreat it was better organized and well-armed, and I am gratified to state that it was thought worthy to continue still in the rear. I moved into the State with about 500 armed men and 1,500 unarmed, and, after the deduction of all losses, I came out with about the same number almost entirely armed.

I would do my feelings injustice did I fail to acknowledge the favorable attention which the brigade received at all times from the major-general commanding and Brigadier-General Shelby. The last was unremitting in his care of the command as he was ever distinguished for his gallantry and ability when he was present to direct and lead it.

To Major-General Fagan the brigade is indebted for kind and complimentary words spoken when it acted under his control on the evening of the fight of the 23d of October, and I take pleasure in testifying to the skill displayed by him while directing its operations on this hazardous occasion.

I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. D. Jackman, Colonel, Commanding Brigade.


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