Private Alman T. Jackson of Company I Remembers the War

Alman T Jackson enlisted as a private in Company I of the 51st North Carolina on February 10, 1863. He fought with the regiment at Battery Wagner and New Bern. Private Jackson was captured at Drewry’s Bluff. He was imprisoned at Point Lookout for nine months before being paroled in March, 1865.

In January 1905, Jackson dictated his memoirs to Miss Winifred Faison. The original document is housed at the North Carolina State Archives, Original Civil War Collection, Box 71, Folder 1.

Personal Reminiscences of the Civil War

I volunteered under Gen Clingman Feb 10, 1862 and joined the army when I was 17 years old and went in camp yunder[sic] Capt. Geo. Sloan of Fayetteville – Co I, 51st Reg, below Wilmington, and there the company was drilled for the first time in military tactics.

We were stationed for two months then went north east of Goldsboro, where there was a little skirmish with the enemy, but only a few of or men were injured.

From there we went to Charleston, S. C., and spent four months on Long Island.

There we had a fort and the sand hills 8 to 10 ft. high afforded us a wall of protection; the sand also giving us a soft bed with our blankets. During the day I threw up breastworks and stood guard at night for nine days in succession, while waiting for Admiral Butler’s fleet, which arrived with 6 monitors, 1 ironside and 15 gunboats: they fired at us day and night for four months every five minutes.

We crossed the river to Fort Sumter. Battery Wagner another fort where the fighting was done in very close quarter. One day we were charged with 13 line of battle and part of them were negro troops; they would charge right up to the breastworks and we would pull them over the line and knock them in the head. We held the Fort.

Back again to Long Island; there another engagement beginning at 1:00 P. M. shells coming in showers from vessels. I with 16 men was detailed and entered village just a few minutes after the shelling started – under Lieut Guy1 – halted at foot of bridge and left 4 guards there with corporal. Rest of us crossed the bridge – 1 mile long.

There I was put on guard with orders to let no one pass – some of the company sought refuge behind the Palmetto trees. Lieutenant Guy told me to do the same, but I stood to my post. A shell came by me and struck the tree behind which Lieut Guy was standing. The tree was split open – the Lieut. stunned, and the shell went on its way.

The Fortress was knocked down and all guns silenced but one; magazine blown up and 16 men blown to atoms; we used shovels to gather up their remains.

After dark we went back to our Fortress with saddened and aching hearts.

From there went to Savannah, Ga stationed there one month, came back to Goldsboro and there to Newbern, the Yankee line was at Deep Creek. The enemy destroyed the Bridge and we had to charge to lay it back – by this we lost 2 or 3 men. Then in a double quick march, we ran the enemy to Newbern. One of their men had fallen by the wayside, wounded and when I reached him I pulled him to one side out of the track. He was too near dead to speak but from his signs I knew he wanted water. I gave him some from my canteen.

Eggs and chicken that were in our line of march suffered – new tobacco was a great treat for us too. We reached the R. R. about ten minutes before the train came, hoping to be able to take it and go on to Newbern, but the rapid speed was too much for us. We fired on however & killed one of the enemy who was cheering on the back.

We camped one mile from Newbern, and were fired on by the enemy but the thick trees protected us and only one man killed – 2 or 3 wounded.

We left there and marched nearly all night to Tarboro and then on to Va. For a few days we were around Richmond – then back to Petersburg.

At Drury’s Bluff we again met Butler’s army with his colored troops. Day & night for 8 months we were in close quarters.

I was made Sergeant of colored guards. A cap thrown up was a target for the Picket Guards. We fought for 16 days in succession, and on May 16th, we charged at 3 o’clock A. M. and came very near getting the Gen – he left his tent in his night clothes to avoid capture: there was a general charge until 11 o’clock.

In my company of 127 only 40 were left. On either side of us all had been killed or wounded. I stood alone facing the enemy, but the color Bearer – Antony Guy2 – joined me at once.

There I surrendered – overcome with fatigue, was forced to give up everything even my knife. I received cruel treatment, pierced on both sides with bayonets and would have been murdered but for the Yankee officer who came and reprimanded his men.

We prisoners were lined up and the Yankee Gen. asked each one where he was from. He stopped at me and said, “Here’s a solid looking fellow, where are you from.” “From N. C.” I said. “How many more men you got over there?” he asked. “Our Regiment, Hoke’s Division & we are to be reinforced from Lee’s army with 20,000.” “If that is the case we must go out of here” – and immediately they began their march.

We were taken to Point Lookout and fed on bread and water and bean soup.

I gnawed one beef bone three days – 14,000 were in that prison – days of suffering they were.

I was there 10 mos & 15 days. Then we were paroled by Major Brady and sent home on March 16 – 1865.

I am now 62 years old and am still at work.

A. T. Jackson

Jan. 1905.

Mr. A. T. Jackson dictated this and it was written by Miss Winifred Faison, Sec. & His. Of Faison-Hicks Chapter.

1 Lieutenant Charles T. Guy

2 Ensign William Anthony Guy

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