Report of Col. Conrad F. Jackson, Ninth Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry
DECEMBER 20, 1861.---Engagement at Dranesville, Va.

O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME 5 [S# 5]

December 21, 1861

General E. O. C. ORD

        SIR: In accordance with your order of this date, to make out an official report of the conduct of my command in the engagement at Dranesville, I would respectfully state that in obedience to orders I marched my regiment into the wood or copse, formed in line of battle, and advanced as directed, with difficulty restraining the men from double-quick. As there was nothing to indicate the position of friend or foe, I advanced until we saw and heard the movements of troops in advance of the right of our line. I halted, and formed my right within 60 or 70 paces of the left of the troops referred to. My men showed a great anxiety to fire. At this time an officer of my regiment reported that the troops opposite were the Bucktails. Determined to avoid falling into the fatal error of killing our own men, I at once used all my energy to prevent firing, nor did we fire until after we had received a volley from the enemy, as they proved to be. We received their first fire as Captain Galway was in the act of reporting that he had obtained a view of them, and assured me in the most emphatic manner they were rebels. The order to fire was then given and promptly obeyed, but I found there still existed a doubt on the part of the men as to the true character of the troops we were engaged with, which caused considerable confusion in the ranks, which was overcome to a great extent with some difficulty. I feel perfectly convinced, had the men been assured at the onset that the troops before us were rebels, we might have driven them from their position before they could have fired on us, as we could hear them distinctly load their pieces.
        I afterwards learned that the impression that the Bucktails were forming in front was strengthened by the following occurrence: One of the enemy called out, "Don't fire on us." One of my men imprudently asked, "Are you the Bucktails?" The answer was, "Yes, we are the Bucktails; don't fire."
        I inclose surgeon's report of killed and wounded.

Your obedient servant,

Colonel, Comdg. Ninth Regiment Pennsylvania Reserve Corps.

Source:  "Official Records of the War of the Rebellion

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