Col. James Keigwin, Forty-ninth
Indiana Infantry, First Brigade
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following as a report of the part taken by the Forty-ninth Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry in the engagements with the enemy on the 16th instant at Champion's Hill and at Big Black Bridge on the 17th instant:
On the morning of the 16th, we were ordered from our bivouac, and formed a part of the advance guard of the division. After a march of about 4 miles, we came upon the enemy's line of skirmishers, and were ordered to form on the left of the Seventh Kentucky. Our skirmishers advanced and were soon hotly engaged. I advanced the regiment a short distance, and soon met the enemy in our front, when I opened fire on him, and drove him back a short distance. The ground being very rough, I halted for a short time to reconnoiter the ground in my front. While at this point, I received an order from General Osterhaus to push forward; that he wanted to gain another position. I moved on, and soon found that I was getting so far in advance of the brigade that I might be cut off. I halted, and found that the regiments to my right and left were about 500 yards to my rear. I did not remain here but a short time, when I was ordered back to the battery, to my position in the brigade. As I fell back, the enemy followed a short distance and halted. We remained here a short time, when the brigade, with the Forty-second Ohio, was moved forward to the attack. We moved forward until we came in sight of the open field and got our line formed, when we discovered the enemy approaching across the field. They soon drove our skirmishers in, and commenced the attack. The Forty-second Ohio, on my right, from some cause, gave way, which left my left flank exposed, when the enemy came down on it and charged into the flank, and some of them got to my rear. My men stood up bravely, and, after passing a few blows with the butts of their pieces, were forced to retire. I halted them on a small elevation and fired a few rounds, when the enemy broke and went back faster than they had approached. This ended the fighting for the day. We then moved on to Edwards Station and bivouacked for the night.
My men during the day fought bravely, and I cannot speak in too high terms of the gallant bearing of both officers and men. I only had seven companies engaged in the fight, and they were small, numbering only 260 men. The other three were detailed in the morning to support one section of Captain Lanphere's battery. Major Hawhe and Adjutant Riddle deserve great credit for their cool and efficient aid rendered me during the day. And my line officers were ever in their places, urging their men to do their duty.
The following is a list of casualties during the day: Killed, 6; wounded, 14; missing, 1.
On the morning of the 17th instant, we left our bivouac and marched in the rear of our division on the road toward Big Black Bridge. We had only marched about 2 miles when the firing commenced in front. We followed on to a point where the Ninth Division turned off the road to the left. At this point I was ordered by General McClernand to move with my regiment on the right of the road, and form a line in the rear of General Lawler's brigade, which was hotly engaged. I remained at this point, when General Carr ordered me to support his division, which was [engaged] with the enemy in his works at the bridge. I remained at this point for some time, when General Lawler ordered me up to support a charge he was preparing to make on the enemy's works. I had not my line in position when the right regiment of his brigade charged across the open field toward the enemy. The general rode up to me and ordered me to charge at the same time, which I did, and I don't think it was anything but the daring bravery of the officers and men which ended the contest so quickly, for we had within 100 yards of the works a bayou to cross, with a heavy abatis, when the enemy commenced putting cotton on their ramrods and showing a willingness to surrender. My men charged into the bayou, and my regiment was second in the works, although they had farther to charge and deeper water to wade through than three others that started in advance of us.
Captain McConahay, of Company A, was the only man I had wounded in this engagement, which was the poorest fight I ever saw the rebels make. After Captain McConahay fell, Sergt.[William] Wesley Kendall, who is one of the bravest of the brave, and always proved himself such in every engagement, led the company in the fight, and was one of the first in the works. I would recommend him to the commanding general for promotion for the gallant conduct he has displayed in every skirmish and battle the regiment has been engaged in since its organization.
JAMES KEIGWIN, Colonel
W. A. JORDAN, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General
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