previous next

No. 75.-report of Maj. Ezra Taylor, First Illinois Light artillery, Chief of artillery, Fifth Division.

Battalion headquarters, Camp near Pittsburg, Tenn., April 10, 1862.
Sir: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by the forces under my command in the affair of the 6th and 7th instant:

By instructions from the general commanding the division, the Morton Battery, Captain Behr commanding, was placed on the Purdy road, [273] in rear of McDowell's brigade; Taylor's battery, Captain Barrett commanding, to the right and in advance of the chapel, on the road leading to Corinth; Capt. A. C. Waterhouse's battery near the left of the division-four guns on the right bank of Owl Cre.ek and two guns on the left bank of Owl Creek.

The enemy appearing in large masses, and opening a battery to the front and right of the two guns, advanced across Owl Creek. I instructed Captain Waterhouse to retire the two guns to the position occupied by the rest of his battery, about which time the enemy appeared in large force in the open field directly in front of the position of this battery, bearing aloft, as I supposed, the American flag, and their men and officers wearing uniforms so similar to ours, that I hesitated to open fire on them until they passed into the woods and were followed by other troops who wore a uniform not to be mistaken. I afterward learned that the uniform jackets worn by these troops were black. As soon as I was certain as to the character of the troops I ordered the firing to commence, which was done in fine style and with excellent precision. After instructing the battery to be cool and watch all the movements of the enemy, who was throwing large forces into the timber on the left of its position, I went to the position occupied by Taylor's battery and ordered Captain Barrett to open fire with shell, which was done promptly, causing the enemy to take shelter in the timber, under cover of which he advanced to within 150 yards of the guns, when they opened a tremendous fire of musketry, accompanied by terrific yells, showing their evident intent to intimidate our men; but the only effect it had on the men of this battery was to cause them promptly to move their guns by hand to the front and pouring into them a shower of canister, causing both the yelling and the firing of the enemy to cease for a time.

In the mean time the enemy was pushing our force on the left of both of these batteries-Waterhouse's and Taylor's. Seeing Waterhouse's battery limbering to the rear, and fearing the result of a too hasty retreat, I hastened to the position, and finding him retiring, I at once ordered him to unlimber and contest every foot of ground, while I sent a messenger to find another battery to come to their assistance. My order was promptly obeyed, and they were soon throwing canister among the enemy; but their bravery alone could not drive back the masses who were swarming around their left and pushing back the infantry and opening a flank fire of musketry and a battery, which they had succeeded in planting in the timber in front, they were compelled to retire under a galling fire, leaving three guns and their entire camp and garrison equipage on the field. I take great pleasure in stating that the conduct of this battery was such as to entitle them to my entire approbation, and I consider too much praise cannot be bestowed upon them for their gallant conduct on their first battle-field.

I respectfully refer you to the official report of Lieut. J. A. Fitch, commanding, Captain Waterhouse and Lieutenant Abbott both being severely wounded.

Some time after this battery had retired the infantry support on the left of Taylor's battery, Captain Barrett commanding, had fallen back, and the enemy had planted his flag on the ground occupied by Waterhouse's battery. I deemed it prudent to order Captain Barrett to limber to the rear and retire in good order to a new position, which was accomplished without any confusion, but owing to a number of his [274] horses being shot he was compelled to leave two of his caissons on the field, one of which he has recovered.

Instructing Captain Barrett to take up a new position on the left of the First Brigade, First Division (General McClernand's), and taking the responsibility of ordering two guns of Schwartz's battery to take position on their left (Major Schwartz having been wounded and left the field), I had not long to wait before I opened fire again, silencing a battery which the enemy had opened with terrific effect upon them. After five hours hard fighting in these two positions, having one man killed and several wounded their ammunition became exhausted, and I instructed them to retire out of range and get a new supply, after which our section engaged the enemy for half an hour, driving him to the corner of the timber.

For casualties I refer you to the official report of Captain Barrett. In regard to the services done by this battery I can only state, from my personal observation on the ground in front of the positions occupied by them during the engagement, I am satisfied that the enemy's mortality list has been much increased by their being there. The bravery of both officers and men of this battery needs not my evidence at this time to establish. I can only say that I am satisfied with their conduct, which must add new luster to their well-earned laurels. Their camp and garrison equipage was completely destroyed, the enemy probably experiencing great satisfaction in capturing anything belonging to Taylor's battery. In regard to Captain Behr, Morton's Battery, I confess I am unable to give you any further information than that I sent a messenger to him in the morning to have his battery ready for action immediately; to which he replied, “All is ready.” The next news from his battery was that it was in the hands of the enemy; a consummation which I must regret, and trust that it may soon be recaptured. In the mean time I think he may be supplied with a battery from those captured from the enemy, there being seven guns at your disposal which have been taken from the enemy, together with five caissons and a good supply of fixed ammunition.

I regret that Captain Silfversparre's battery of four 20-pounder Parrott guns.have not been able as yet to report with the battery to this field; owing to some deficiency in his horses and other equipage. I understand, however, that he did good service near the Landing on the evening of the 6th instant.

I deem it my duty to make honorable mention of the services of Company A, Chicago Light Artillery, under command of Lieut. P. P. Wood, on the 7th instant. The battery, not having been assigned to this division, did not properly come under my jurisdiction, but by instructions received from General U. S. Grant and Colonel Webster, I was authorized to take any battery or parts of batteries from the State of Illinois and use them at any point of attack where I could put them to advantage. Consequently I brought them up, and turned over to the general commanding this division Lieut. P. P. Wood, with four guns, but from some cause he had to send one gun to the rear. How well he served the other three guns I refer you to the general himself, who assures me he never saw guns better served. I have also to mention Captain Bouton's battery of six guns (James rifled 6-pounders), which I found on Sunday, the 6th, anxious to distinguish themselves, and as good fortune would have it I got them a good position near Colonel McArthur's division, where they did most excellent service, driving the enemy from a very commanding position, both officers and men behaving themselves like veterans, notwithstanding they only landed the [275] day previous and their horses had never heard a gun fired. Yet the battery stood its ground gallantly under the fire of the enemy's batteries until they had expended their entire supply of ammunition.

On Monday morning, after taking a new supply of ammunition, I brought them into action again on the hardest-contested portion of the field, near the forks of the road, near General McClernand's headquarters, where the enemy opened a terrific fire from across Owl Creek, which made sad havoc among his horses, rendering them quite unmanageable; yet by a few well-directed shots the enemy's guns were silenced, and he was able to retire out of range and repair damages. and I am proud to predict that with proper time to drill their horses and men the battery will be second to none in the service.

In order to do justice to all I cannot close this report without mentioning Dresser's battery, commanded by Captain Timony, who were put in battery under my direction on Sunday, the 6th, under the most terrific fire, perhaps, that occurred at any point or at any time during the fight. This occurred at the same point on the field, in front of General McClernand's headquarters, where the enemy had a full sweep of the field in front with his batteries and a galling fire of musketry on our left. To say that they fought bravely till their horses were literally piled up, creating a barrier to the retreat of their guns, is a simple statement of facts, and I doubt not the general commanding the First Division will give to them the credit due them. Such bravery cannot but obtain its reward.

Trusting you will not consider this somewhat lengthy report more than is in justice due to those who have sought to do their best to inflict a just chastisement upon these rebellious subjects against the best government under the sun, I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

Ezra Taylor, Major, Commanding, and Chief of Artillery. J. H. Hammond, Assistant Adjutant-General Fifth Division,


[Indorsement.]

Have examined Major Taylor's report, and approve his recommendation that the Morton Battery be reconstructed out of captured guns. Also make special mention of Captain Barrett, Company B, First Illinois Artillery, and Lieut. P. P. Wood, Company A, Chicago Light Artillery; also of Capt. E. Bouton, of Company I, First Illinois Artillery.

W. T. Sherman, Brigadier-General, Commanding Fifth Division.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: