War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0036 W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., LA., TEX., N. MEX. Chapter XXVII.

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No. 7. Report of Lieutenant Col. John A. Keith, Twenty-first Indiana Infantry of reconnaissance to the Amite River, La., and skirmish, June 27-29.


Baton Rouge, July -, 1862.

SIR: In obedience to order of Lieutenant-Colonel Clarke, Sixth Michigan Volunteers, then commanding post, I with 40 of Magee's cavalry, under Captain James M. Magee, started from the camp of Twenty-first Indiana Volunteers at 7 p.m. of the 27th of June, to make such reconnaissance as in my opinion deemed best.

Following the Greensburg road 19 miles we crossed to the Camp Moore road by an unfrequented path; distance 6 miles. Nine miles from where this path intersected the last-named road we breakfasted and fed our horses. At 8 o'clock a.m. we resumed our march 12 miles farther in the direction of Camp Moore, then recrossed to the Greensburg road, capturing on the way a guerrilla. On arriving at the road we captured 3 prisoners and the horse of a fourth, who escaped under fire, by taking to the woods. Two of the prisoners were members of Captain Terrell's Mississippi Cavalry and were well armed. I learned that he, with his company of 110 men, were encamped at Williams' Bridge, across the Amite River, on the Greensburg road, 8 miles distant.

I determined to surprise him and destroy his camp. The camp is only a mile from the Clinton road. There are three bridges to cross on the Port Hudson road before reaching the camp, the farthest one not more than half a mile removed. On reaching the first bridge I left Captain Magee in rear with instructions, and with 20 men pushed rapidly forward. We saw no pickets until we reached the Amite Bridge (the last one). These were hailed by my advance. They fled without giving any alarm. One shot was fired after them, when one of them was seen to fall. Twenty rods from the bridge we were brought in front of the encampment. Here we delivered a volley and charged in upon them. The volley seemed to be the first notice to the inmates of our approach. The effect may well be imagined. A general stampede ensued in which everything not in actual possession at the time was abandoned.

Accompanied by 5 of the men I crossed a small branch in the direction taken by the enemy in their flight, when on ascending the bank a volley of 20 rounds was poured into us from a thicket immediately in front and at a distance of not more than 30 paces. We returned the fire with our revolvers. I then ordered the rear, who were across the branch, to move forward to our support. This they refused to do, but remained in the hollow, seemingly paralyzed at this sudden show of resistance. We continued firing with our revolvers, and received a second volley at which time Captain Magee was heard dashing across the bridge with the reserve. Seeing this the, enemy fled precipitately under our fire. The captain's arrival was well timed, for every man with me had discharged his shots. Six of us fired over 30 shots.

Our loss was Sergeant Marshall, wounded in the thigh badly, and one horse killed. The enemy's loss is not certainly known, but was at least 4 killed, 7 prisoners 20 horses 3 mules and a wagon laden with provisions and forage; besides a quantity of arms, accouterments, saddles, horses, equipage, and ammunition was captured. The most valuable of the articles or so much as we could transport, was brought