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Doc. 83.-skirmish at Baton Rouge, La.


Lieutenant-Colonel Keith's official report.

camp Twenty-First Indiana volunteers, Baton Rouge, July--, 1862.
James W. McMillin, Colonel Twenty-first Indiana Volunteers, Commanding Post:
sir: In obedience to order of Lieut.-Col. Clark, Sixth Michigan volunteers, then commanding post, I, with forty of McGee's cavalry, under Capt. McGee, started from the camp of the Twenty-first Indiana volunteers, at seven o'clock P. M., of the twenty-seventh of June, to make such reconnoissance as in my opinion seemed best. Following the Greensburgh road nineteen miles, we crossed to the Camp Moore road by an unfrequented path, distance six miles. Nine miles from where this path intersected the lastnamed road we breakfasted and fed our horses. At eight o'clock A. M. we resumed our march twelve miles further, in the direction of Camp Moore; then we crossed to the Greenburgh road, capturing on the way a guerrilla.

On arriving at the road we captured three prisoners and the horse of a fourth, who escaped, under fire, by taking to the woods. Two of the prisoners were members of Capt. Terrill's Mississippi cavalry, and well armed. I learned that he, with his company of one hundred and ten men, was encamped at Williams's Bridge, across the Amite River, on the Greensburgh road, eight 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 furthest not more than half a mile removed. On reaching the first bridge I left Capt. McGee in the rear with instructions, and with twenty men pushed rapidly forward. We saw no pickets until we reached the Amite bridge, (the last one.) These we hailed by my advance. They fled without giving any alarm. One shot was fired after them, when one of them was seen to fall.

Seventy rods from the bridge we were brought [278] 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 every thing not in actual possession at the time was abandoned. Accompanied by five of the men, I crossed a small trench in the direction taken by the enemy in their flight, when, on ascending the bank, a volley of twenty rounds was poured into us from a thicket immediately in front, and at a distance of not more than thirty paces. We returned the fire with our revolvers. I then ordered the rear, who were across the trench, 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 Capt. McGee 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 thirty 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 four killed, seven prisoners, twenty horses, three mules, and a wagon laden with provisions and forage, besides a quantity of arms, accoutrements, saddles, horse-equipage, and ammunition which were captured. The most valuable of the articles, or so much as we could transport, were brought away; the residue, with all the commissary and quartermaster's stores, forage, blankets, and camp equipage was burned or otherwise destroyed. I brought with me all the company books and papers. It was between twelve and one o'clock when we charged upon the camp. Dinner was just prepared.

Not having a force that would justify me in pursuing the enemy in his flight, we immediately took up our march homeward. We had arrived within eighteen miles of this place, when, about nine o'clock P. M., two enfilading volleys were fired into our rear from a point of woods at the turn of the road. At the point whence the firing proceeded the road turns to the right, and the left-hand side is skirted by woods with a thick undergrowth. When the firing opened the rearguard had passed. The fire was returned by them. We had fourteen prisoners, seventy horses, and a mule-team, laden with the fruits of our capture, to encumber us for a short time. The greatest confusion prevailed. The horses that had been ridden by the prisoners, with those being led and others that had lost their riders, came dashing down the road furiously.

For a while the men seemed panic-stricken, but in five minutes time we were in a condition to receive an attack, if any was contemplated, which we fully expected. In the mean time we ascertained that the enemy fled upon delivering the second volley, which was done within fifteen seconds after the first volley. We gathered up our killed and wounded and encamped in the field opposite the woods. Our loss was two killed--Hammon D. Wagner and Joseph Shoener. The wounded were Oliver S. Locke, George Haynes, John Buckner, and Daniel Borne, together with a negro whom we captured in camp, and who has since died from the effect of his wounds. Seven of the prisoners escaped. Two of the guard over them were killed, and two had their horses shot under them, and two others were wounded. Four of our horses were killed, among them my own.

We were not further molested, and at sunrise resumed our march, reaching camp at half-past 11 o'clock on the morning of the twenty-ninth inst., with eight prisoners and all the horses and other property, together with our dead and wounded. The property has been disposed of by Capt. McGee. We had, on reaching camp, marched ninety-six miles, neither man nor horse having had a morsel of food for thirty-two hours of the time, and the men, with the exception of three hours of that time, were constantly in the saddle.

Capt. McGee deserves the greatest praise for the timely aid rendered when we were attacked first by the enemy, and also for his coolness during the time we were under fire at night, and for his efforts in allaying the panic which for a moment prevailed among some of his men at that time. Too much credit cannot be given Sergeants Marshall and Parsons, private Miller, and Sergeant Brown for their courage and brave conduct in receiving the two volleys in the camp of the enemy, and their subsequent conduct that night. Trusting that my action in the premises may meet your approbation, I am, with respect, your obedient servant,

John A. Keith, Lieutenant-Colonel Twenty-first Indiana Volunteers.

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Greensburg (Indiana, United States) (2)
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