Numbers 222. Report of Captain Overton W. Barret, Missouri battery.
--- --, 1863.
[I have the honor to report the] part taken by Barret's Missouri battery (two 6-pounder guns and two 12-pounder howitzers.)
Position on December 28, 1862, in main line of battle on the right of Nolensville road, Walthall's brigade on my left, Chalmers' on my right.
On the 29th, having a very exposed position, and apprehending that the enemy would plant long-range guns on the elevations opposite, I threw up some small earthworks.
About 9 o'clock on the 30th, the enemy opened fire upon me from a battery planted near a small house in the cedars, nearly opposite my position. This battery was composed, as nearly as I could judge, of two Parrott guns, two others rifled guns, and two 12-pounder howitzers. I was ordered not to fire unless compelled or until the infantry charged. During the first ten minutes after the enemy opened fire upon me I had 1 horse killed and 2 men and 2 horses wounded at the limbers. I was obliged by the severity of the fire to send my limbers far to rear, behind a hills. The enemy continued to play upon me until night, with only occasional intermissions, when the enemy turned his fire upon our skirmishers or changed his position so as to obtain a cross-fire upon me. Several times I sustained a fire from three different points and from different batteries. The fire of the enemy was very exact and severe, both from his batteries and sharpshooters, and but for my earthworks my position would have been untenable.
On the 31st, the enemy resumed their fire upon me. I still reserved my fire until Walthall's brigade charged, when I received permission to left end of the field. My limbers being so far from my pieces, and knowing the opposing batteries had by twelve hours' practice upon me obtained accurate range of my position, I ceased firing when I had diverted theirs from our advancing infantry. In this engagement I lost 1 man wounded. After the enemy were driven from the cedars, I advanced my battery to a position between the Nashville pike and Cowan's house, whence I played on the enemy's infantry until our infantry were about to charge, when I was ordered to cease, and, being within range of the enemy's shot, fell back to my original position, where I remained all day of January 1, 1863.
On January 2, took position some distance in rear of Cowan's house, occasionally fired upon by the enemy's long-range guns. Before day break on the 3rd, took position on the right and left of Cowan's house and threw up earthworks. About 5 p.m. the enemy commenced and continued firing upon me with ten heavy guns until night, when, by order of the chief of artillery of division, I drew off under the cover of the darkness. In this engagement I lost 1 horse killed and 2 wounded.
I have never been furnished with adjustable sights of any kind. Our Bermann fuses, in my opinion, are very inferior. Our powder, also, I think inferior. My shells, ignited by red, green, and black fuses, were the most effective and accurate projectile which I used in this battle. Six-pounder batteries cannot maintain a fight with long-range guns shooting the Hotchkiss and James projectile unless the distance between the opposing batteries be very short.