Numbers 64. Report of Colonel William W. Sanford, Forty-eighth Illinois Infantry, commanding Fourth Brigade. HDQRS. 4TH Brigadier, 1ST DIV., DETACHMENT 16TH A. C., Jackson, MISS., July 19, 1863.
SIR: I respectfully make the following report of the operations of the Fourth Brigade since leaving Oak Ridge, MISS., on the evening of the 4th instant:
On the evening of the 6th, this command was ordered to Jones Ford, on the Big Black River, to effect a crossing, in conjunction with other troops of the DIVISION, who were to cross higher up. I was instructed that the stream was not more than 3 feet deep, and that infantry could easily cross at the ford. The guide sent with the Sixth Iowa, having lost the road, led them wandering through the country, and they did not arrive at the crossing place until 11. 30 p. M, having marched a distance of 10 miles. Upon the arrival of the Sixth Iowa, preparations were made at once to cross. Men were immediately sent in, and discovered the stream to be so swift and so deep that not only was it impracticable to ford, but impossible for the men to swim across carrying their arms. A couple of canoes were finally discovered, lashed together; 3 men were placed in them and started over. the stream being so swift, and they not having oars or poles, were swept down the stream, and immediately a fire was opened upon us from the opposite shore. The command then fell back from the exposed position, and two companies from the Sixth Iowa thrown along the shore soon silenced the firing. Deeming the crossing to be impracticable without boats or pontoons, I withdrew the Forty-eighth Illinois from the river, and they bivouacked for the night. Ordered the Sixth Iowa to picket the river for 2 miles up and down, and sent word back to the general commanding as to what disposition I had made of my command. During the night Colonel Corse undertook to get some men across, and had made three successful trips when the squad on the WEST bank, waiting to get into the boat, were discovered by the enemy, and a fire along the entire bank opened, in which the Sixth Iowa suffered some loss. We continued skirmishing with the enemy all the next day, thereby keeping their attention from above, and enabling Colonel Cockrill to effect a crossing. We crossed immediately after Colonel Cockrill's brigade; bivouacked that night about 2 miles from the river, near Birdsong house.
The next morning the command was ordered to the front about 2 miles. In making this movement we discovered a rebel camp near Queen's Hill, from which they had so precipitately as to leave nearly all their camp and garrison equipage, a number of small-arms, their stores, and sick. A few prisoners were captured.
The night of the 7th, we camped at Colonel Robinson's, on the Clinton road.
On July 10, my command took the advance, the right of the DIVISION. On passing around to the north of Jackson, the brigade was ordered back and another brigade thrown, and when within 3 miles of Jackson the brigade was ordered to the rear as a reserve. At about 4 p. m. the brigade was again thrown to the front, and formed in line of battle, the Sixth Iowa occupying the right of the line. Two companies of the Sixth Iowa were deployed as skirmishers, and Colonel Corse took command of them. The lines were then advanced to the Livingston