of Lieut. Col. John H. Jackson, Third New Hampshire Infantry.
THIRD NEW HAMPSHIRE VOLUNTEERS James Island, S. C., June 19, 1862.
I have the honor to present the following report: On the morning of the 16th instant I received orders to form the six companies
of my regiment remaining in camp (four companies being on picket) and fall in the rear of the Third Rhode Island, which I
did at 3 o’clock. After the line had been formed a short time I received orders to march forward. When I came up with
our pickets I was joined by the remaining four companies of my regiment. I soon received orders to again advance, which I
did until I reached some wooden buildings near the enemy’s earthworks, and as I had then got in advance of those I was
ordered to support I halted my command and waited for further orders. Orders soon came for me to move on and support the advance.
Thinking I had made some mistake, and that there was some of our forces in advance, I threw forward my two flank companies
as skirmishers under cover of some shanties that were very near the earthworks, and gave them a fine opportunity to operate
against the enemy. Company A was commanded by Captain Clark, and Company E by First Lieutenant Maxwell. I then moved the remainder
of the regiment to within 40 yards of the side of the earthworks and opened fire, driving there from three guns which appeared
to me to be facing the southwest. I found there was no artillery facing the side I was on, and it would have been very easy
for me to have gone into the fort, provided I could have crossed a stream between me and the earthworks about 20 yards in
width with apparently 4 or 5 feet of water and the mud very soft; the men therefore could not cross. After getting into this
position the enemy soon opened on me from a battery that was about 200 yards in our rear, throwing grape into the ranks, from
which we suffered severely. In a short time they opened fire with rifles and infantry. At the same time a battery about a
mile north of us opened on us with round shot and shell, one shot from which killed a captain and non-commissioned officer,
yet the men stood all these fires and obeyed orders promptly. There soon appeared on our left a body of the enemy, forming
in three battalions, in which form they marched to re-enforce the earthwork in front of us. During this time I had informed
the general of our position and of the above mentioned re-enforcements. At this time the Third Rhode Island made an attack
on the force in my rear, materially assisting me in my position. Meanwhile the re-enforcements of the enemy had come in range
of our fire, and I opened fire on them with good effect, but they were so well covered that they succeeded in throwing a portion
of the force into the fort, and there, being well covered, their fire on us was very severe, and detracted our fire from the
re-enforcements and gave them an opportunity to throw them all into the fort. Their number was so large we could not cope
with them to any advantage, and by this time the other batteries, both in our rear and the one at the north of us, opened
a fresh fire on us with more effect than ever. Some of my men by this time had fired over 50 rounds and many of the guns were
very foul, some even having to shoot away their rammers, being unable to draw them. Finding at this time that I was far in
advance of all our forces and seeing some of the forces retiring from the field, and as it appeared of no advantage to hold
my position any longer, I gave the order to retire, which the regiment did in good order, to the old buildings from which
we started. I soon received orders to fall back in the rear of some of our forces, and in a short time after reaching that
position orders to return to camp. All my command, with one exception, behaved so well that it is hard to discriminate in
favor of any few, but a number of cases coming under my personal observation; I will take this opportunity to mention them.
The field officers Major Bedel, acting lieutenant-colonel; Captain Plimpton, acting major rendered me great assistance, coolly
per- forming all their duties and encouraging officers and men by their exi mple. Adjutant Libby and Sergeant-Major Copp rendered
me great assistance. The adjutant was several times much exposed in carrying orders, but came out of the fight unscarred.
Of the captains I would particularly mention for meritorious con- duct Captains Donohoe, of Company C; Wilbur, of Company
B, and Randlett, of Company F. His (Captain Donohoe’s) company was stationed on the left and received the first fire
of the enemy’s re-enforcemeuts, which wounded his lieutenant and orderly-sergeant and many of his men. Captain Wilbur,
with his company, was next in line and much exposed to the enemy’s fire. He was cool and continually encouraging his
men. Captain Randlett’s company was under a severe fire, during which the captain kept his men in order and set them
a good example. First Lieutenant [H. C.] Henderson, commanding Company G, was in position near Company C, and handled his
company finely, with the assistance of Second Lieutenant Cody, detailed from Company C to assist him. Lieutenant Cody was
shot through the thigh and Lieu- tenant Henderson was shot in the arm. Captain Dow, of Company II, although he carried his
company on the field in good shape, behaved very imprudently while there, making remarks about the impossibility of our sustaining
our position and the impropriety of our remaining in that position; all this in the hearing of his men discouraging the men,
taking their attention from the enemy in front of us. Among the non-commissioned officers and privates who are worthy of special
mention are Orderly-Sergeants [Jonah] Libby, of Company B; [Joseph J.] Donohoe, of Company C; [M. P.] Hawkins, of Company
I, and [W. H.] Trickey, of Company G, who came under my personal observation; also Second Sergeant [N. J.] Campbell, of Company
K. Qaptain Clark, of Company A, reports that First Sergeant [R. W.] Houghton deserves mention for the faithful manner in which
he per- formed his duty on that day, but my space will not allow me to mention all who are worthy of mention for their good
conduct. We went into the fight with 26 officers and 597 enlisted men, and 104 were killed and wounded. Surgeon Moulton was
absent from the regiment from Sunday morning, the 15th instant, until Wednesday morning, the 18th, without my consent, and
therefore the whole duty of the hospital department devolved upon Asst. Sarg. B. F. Eaton, who faithfully performed his duties
to the sick and wounded soldiers.
great respect, this report is respectfully submitted,
JOHN H. JACKSON,
Comdg. Third New Hampshire Vols.
Brig. Gen. ROBERT WILLIAMS.
SOURCE: The war of the rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union
and Confederate armies. ; Series 1 - Volume 14; pages 78-80.