On the 12th of June it marched with General Morgan’s forces toward Cumberland Gap, and on the 18th it occupied the Gap, the rebels having evacuated it the same day. The 49th proceeded to add to the strength of the already well fortified position.
In the month of August the rebel General Kirby Smith, with a strong force, came through the mountains, and succeeded in cutting off supplies and all communications in the Gap. At the same time supplies were already low in Cumberland Gap, and the men were in need of clothing.
The regiment remained at Cumberland Gap until the night of the 17th of September, when General Morgan, whose army the 49th was part of, abandoned the works, and started it’s retreat with General Morgan leading them through Eastern Kentucky to the Ohio River. During the march the troops subsisted mostly upon green corn. After a march of sixteen days,the regiment reached Greenupsburg, Kentucky, on the 3rd of October, from whence it moved to Oak Hill, Ohio.
Going into camp at Oak Hill, Colonel John W Ray met up with the regiment, having been on detached service, and tendered his resignation on October 17, 1862. He was succeeded by James Keigwin, who continued as it’s colonel until the close of the war.
After a few days rest, the 49th started for Western Virginia, going up the Kanawha as far as Coal’s Mouth. Returning from this expedition it embarked on transports at Point Pleasant on the 17th of November for Memphis, arriving there on the 30th of that month.
On the 19th of December it embarked, with Sherman’s army, on the expedition to Vicksburg, landing at Chickasaw Bayou on the evening of December 26th, and engaging in the five days battle that followed. It lost fifty-six men in killed and wounded. The attempt to storm the rebel works being unsuccessful, the regiment re-embarked on transports and left Chickasaw Bayou on the 2nd of January, 1863, and proceeded to Milliken’s Bend. Young’s Point, Louisiana, where a change in commanders took place with General John A. McClernand succeeding General Sherman in command.
From this place it started in steamers on the expedition against Arkansas Post, a strongly fortified position held by a force of over five thousand men under General Churchill. On the 11th of January, after a fierce fight, and a gallant defense, the enemy surrendered.
Returning to Young’s Point, it assisted in digging the canal across the point, remaining in that vicinity until the 2nd of April. It then moved with Grant’s army as part of the 13th Corps on April 2, 1863, and moved down the west bank of the river to a point below Grand Gulf, where it boarded transports, which, with gunboats, had ran past the batteries of Vicksburg and Grand Gulf, and had landed at Bruinsburg, near the mouth of Bayou Pierre. On the 30th of April, 1863, the regiment crossed the river, and marched toward Port Gibson, where on the morning of May 1st, began the battle of Port Gibson, the first on a series of engagements preliminary to the complete investment of Vicksburg. At Champion’s Hill, on the 6th of May; and at Black River Bridge, on the 17th, where SGT William W. Kendall won the Medal of Honor for his actions, in which he crossed the enemy works, and leading his company, captured guns, and more men then he had with him.