Number 6. Report of Lieutenant Colonel Adolph Dengler, Forty third Illinois Infantry, of operations December 18-27, 1862, including engagement near Jackson.
HDQRS. FORTY-THIRD REGIMENT ILLINOIS VOLUNTEERS,
Bolivar, Tenn., December 28, 1862.
COLONEL: I have the honor to lay before your a report of the operations of the Forty-third Regiment Illinois Volunteers while under my command, from December 18 to the 27th:
On the morning of December 18 I received orders from Brigadier-General Brayman to move the regiment immediately to the depot supplied with one day's rations. We left Bolivar at 11 a. m., arriving at Jackson at 3 p. m.
The same evening I received orders from you to advance on the Lexington road for about 5 miles, or to such a distance as should bring me in close communication with the Eleventh Illinois and Fifth Ohio Cavalry. I met them about 3 1/2 miles from Jackson and stationed along the road a strong picket line about three-quarters of a mile in advance.
That part of the Lexington road near which the engagement of December 19 took place runs through a plateau, bounded on either side by a ravine running parallel to each other. The road runs through the ravine, nearest to Jackson, in a northeasterly direction till it reaches a grave-yard called Salem Cemetery, from whence it takes a due easterly course. Your ordered me to occupy a position near this bend of the course. Your ordered me to occupy a position near this bend of the road. I placed my second battalion on a gentle slope, the left wing of this battalion almost touching the road, facing east, while the first battalion occupied a more forward position on the right of the second, leaving about 100 yards between them. Skirmishers were detached from the first battalion and stationed to the right, in front of the same, along the edge of the wood, covered somewhat by a fence. Just in front of the line of skirmishers were a cotton-press and several small outhouses, beyond which the rebel line of skirmishers extended. The right wing of the Sixty-first Illinois held Salem Cemetery, somewhat in the rear of our second battalion, but from which position the road is completely controlled.
Early on the morning of December 19 you advanced with the cavalry, who were soon engaged in a lively skirmish with the enemy, lasting about half an hour. The enemy had in the mean time brought their cannon in position and commenced on our cavalry, who immediately retreated within our lines. Now commenced a brisk firing between our skirmishers and those of the enemy, while the main body of the rebel cavalry was being massed just beyond the highest ridge over which the road runs. Slowly at last they came in view, advancing cautiously for the first 100 yards, then putting their horses in a brisk trot till within 150 yards of us, when amid deafening cheers they charged headlong down the road upon us. My men, however, had been cautioned to reserve their fire. I let the enemy advance till within 30 yards of us, when at my command the men poured in a deadly volley, causing great havoc among them. The enemy, terrified at such a destructive fire from an unknown quarter (for they had not suspected our presence, as we were concealed), came to a momentary halt, which proved to be the cause of their destruction, for at this critical moment a well-directed fire from the Sixty-first and second battalions completed their confusion. In wild disorder they turned from the road to the