No. 77.-report of Lieut. John A. Fitch, battery E. First Illinois Light artillery.
headquarters Waterhouse's battery, April 9, 1862.Sir: I would respectfully submit the following report of the part taken by Company E, First Regiment Light Artillery Illinois Volunteers, in the action of Sunday, the 6th instant: The battery consisted of four 30-inch and two 41-inch James rifled cannon. We had received our horses ten days previous to the action and had been in camp one week, in which time we had opportunity for drill only three days. Under these disadvantages we went into action. By your order the battery took position at 7 a. m., two sections on a hill to the left and front of General Sherman's headquarters, and one section across Owl Creek, about 150 yards to the front. The section in advance was compelled to retire, and took position to the left of the other sections. At this time the enemy had a strong force in the woods on the left, and another force, supported by a battery, on the right; a column also advanced across an open field in front. The battery held this position one hour and three quarters, silencing the enemy's battery, when the infantry supporting us on the left gave way and exposed  as to a severe flanking fire. At this time Captain Waterhouse was wounded and was obliged to leave the field, first giving the order to retire. The rear part of one caisson, having been caught among the trees by reason of the rawness of our horses, was necessarily left here. The I attery was retiring slowly, under command of Lieut. A. R. Abbott, when you ordered it to open fire a second time at a point about 100 yards in the rear of our first position. This position was held but a few minutes. The infantry on our left continued to retreat, and the enemy again outflanked us, this time advancing rapidly up the hill upon our left. Lieutenant Abbott, being now wounded, I gave the order to retreat, which was effected under a close fire of musketry, when the enemy had approached to about 50 yards from our position. Many of our men and horses had been wounded, and I was obliged to leave on the field two 4k-inch and one 30-inch guns. After retiring from action it was found upon examination that the remaining guns were disabled from faulty construction of the iron part of the axle-tree. By your order the battery retired to the river. One gun was so far disabled that it broke down and was left on the way to the river. That night, by your advice, I detailed one lieutenant and 24 men, with 3 horses, temporarily to assist Company B, Captain Barrett commanding. The camp and garrison equipage of the company was almost entirely destroyed.1 The battery is at present unfit for service. Respectfully submitted.