The Southern Historical Society Papers.
The Twelfth Georgia Infantry.

Papers, Chiefly Relating to That Command.


[ 7 ] HUNTERSVILLE, WEST VIRGINIA.

COMMUNICATION FROM COL. WM. L. JACKSON TO GEN. ED JOHNSON.

HUNTERSVILLE, January 18th, 1862.

GENERAL:

I enclose the monthly return of Captain Alexander for December, the best he can do. Upon my arrival here I found that General Davis, of Greenbrier county, had advertised that he would address the people of this county at this place on Thursday, the 16th inst., with the view of arousing them to resent Northern invasion. A number of the substantial citizens assembled, but the General failed to appear, and I made them a speech. I think I took the right ground with a view to your instructions, and the meeting adjourned after adopting a resolution recommending the formation in every neighborhood of companies to assist at a moment's warning in repelling any invasion. I am promised such assistance, but as the county is sparsely settled, with two volunteer companies in the service, I do not expect much assistance from that source, except in conveying information of the approach of the enemy. There may be forty men raised in the Little Levels, who will render efficient aid. I now scout to the blockade, and this company from the Little Levels, when organized, promises to scout beyond. I have adopted vigorous measures to bring in the absentees, and expect to have them all in a few days. The two cavalry companies number seventy-two men fit for duty. The two infantry companies number forty-one men fit for duty. In all, I have now one hundred and thirteen men fit for duty. I suppose the two companies from Colonel Goode's regiment will increase my force one hundred. When the absentees fit for duty are in I will have about forty more. My force then will be about two hundred and fifty. This force I regard insufficient for complete defense and to restore confidence. Although this county is one of those included in the bogus government, I do not expect the enemy to attempt any permanent occupation this winter, as they would be too far from their supplies. Yet they may, if a mall force is left here, send enough force to rout us and then return to their strongholds. We have reliable information that at Beverley there is Colonel Ford's 32d Ohio regiment, numbering 700--no artillery. At Huttonsville, Colonel Jones' 25th Ohio regiment, 800 men--two pieces of artillery. At Crouch's, 2d Virginia regiment, Colonel Moss, six companies, 400 men--one piece of artillery. The other companies of the regiment are on an expedition having in view the rout of guerrilla parties. At Cheat, 9th Indiana, General Milroy, 700 men--two or three pieces of artillery. There is no account of the return of the Yankees at Elk since the recent raid. Scouts have returned who were as far as Marshall's Store, five miles beyond Valley Mountain. On the retreat of the Yankees they burned the houses in the region of Big Springs. This position cannot be sustained successfully with a small force unless there is a force at the bridge, seven miles from here. There is a necessity for a force here to protect the stores and the rear of a force at the bridge. Two hundred men with one piece of artillery at the bridge, to be reinforced from this point, is necessary to prevent the enemy from making inroads. There should be at least two hundred men at this point, as well as that number at the bridge for the reasons above stated. There is considerable disloyalty in the county. The report was in circulation that the Confederate government was willing to treat for peace with the loss of Northwestern Virginia. This I stigmatized as false in the speech which I made. But the fear, while it makes some neutral, makes others false. By some means heretofore, every transaction in the camp has been communicated to the enemy. In the course of my speech I announced that no one except on particular business should come into my lines, and as I had the names of the suspected, none such should return if found inside. I allowed the meeting, as that was necessary, but since, I am enforcing rigid rules. The cavalry here cannot be dispensed with, as that is part of the force to fight. If I had more infantry one of the cavalry companies could be sent back. With the force now here, and the two companies marching to reinforce, I will be compelled to quarter them here in town, and have made all necessary arrangements. To quarter them elsewhere would scatter them too much, and they would not be available in a fight at any particular point. All applications for furlough I refer to you. I now enclose one. The applicant has shown me a letter referring to the destitution of his children. This is a common, and perhaps true, complaint, but it is an accident of the war in which we are engaged.

I understand that traitors in Northwest Virginia are disheartening the sound men by the wicked and false report that the Confederate States are willing to abandon them. This should be contradicted if possible. In the few minutes' conversation I had with you before I left for this post, the subject of the reenlistment of our men at the expiration of this term was mentioned. That is a subject of difficulty and of very grave importance, and one giving me much anxiety. I travelled a few miles with a man by the name of Taylor, who has a wounded brother in my regiment. He informed me that the disposition on the part of my men was not to re enlist, but to return home and fight as guerrillas. This I had learned from other sources. To change this determination is my desire, and to exert myself for the object I should be present with the regiment. Owing to the peculiar relation I have always borne to the regiment, I believe I can do more to procure the re-enlistment desired than anyone else. If you agree with me I should be relieved and ordered back to my regiment. I do not wish to be understood as shirking the performance of any duty; on the contrary, I feel complimented that you deemed me capable to command this post. I feel, however, I can do more good in the command of my regiment than at this post. There is an officer in your command better adapted for this position than I am, I allude to Major [A. C.] Jones, of the 44th Virginia regiment. He is from Northwest Virginia, a graduate of the institute, a good disciplinarian, of good address and very ambitious, and is somewhat dissatisfied with his subordinate position in his regiment. I respectfully suggest that you give the command of this post to Major Jones. His command will be firm, conciliatory and will give satisfaction. Major Jones knows nothing of this suggestion, and the conviction of his fitness alone has induced me to make it. Whatever your determination may be will be agreeable to me.

In the conversation with Taylor he expressed strong suspicion of a Mr. Kerr living near your camp. I feel it my duty to call your attention to Mr. Kerr. Taylor thinks he and Slaten are too intimate.

With the force now here and on the way, if the enemy advance, I will have to give them the main fight at the pass two miles beyond this. With a force at the bridge, there are several points at which stands can be made. If you send Major Jones here I would advise that you reinforce him by two companies from the 44th Virginia regiment.

This letter appears long, because the only paper here is on half sheets, and I put but a few words on a line. I would advise the establishment of an express line between here and Monterey.

Respectfully, &c.,
WILLIAM L. JACKSON, Colonel Commanding.

Willis, Edward, "The Twelfth Georgia Infantry," Southern Historical Society Papers 17(1889):169-172.

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