Numbers 34. Report of Lieutenant Joseph Foust, Battery E, First Missouri Light Artillery.
BATTLE-FIELD OF PRAIRIE GROVE, ARK., December 8, 1862.
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that, on the morning of the 7th instant, while on the march from Fayetteville to Illinois Creek, the enemy having attacked our advance, I was ordered by you to take a position on the left of the road.
After reconnoitering and finding no enemy on the east side of the creek in force, I was ordered by you to send one section to the front, to report to General Herron. I ordered Lieutenant C. L. Edwards to take one section, and report accordingly. He advanced, shelling the wood until he arrived at the east bank of the creek, which he was ordered to cross and open upon the enemy, who was visible in force, about three-fourths of a mile to the front. The position of the enemy's batteries having been ascertained, he was ordered by General Herron to retire. At the same into I was ordered to advance with the remainder of the battery to the front. Arriving at the ford of the creek, I was ordered to halt out of sight of the enemy, and to advance and open the battery upon a signal to be given from Captain Murphy's battery.
We went into action at the signal, under a terrible fire from the enemy while crossing the ford, About the third round the enemy's guns were silenced. Another battery on our left having got our range, we were compelled to change position to the front.
I would state, however, that I went on to the field with orders to take such positions as would afford the greatest advantage over the enemy. The same orders were extended to my officers by myself. Each one taking command of a section, we acted independently, but supported each other. The enemy was about to turn our left flank with an overwhelming force, when Lieutenant Edwards took a position on the extreme left with his section, while Lieutenant [J. B.] Atwater and myself kept up a heavy fire. It hen ordered my section to the same position, Lieutenant Atwater covering my advance. The latter then took a position beside me. We were now within 150 yards of the enemy's line, supported on the left by the Ninety-fourth Illinois Infantry.
At this time the enemy attempted to charge out lines, when the whole battery opened on them with canister, and they fell back in confusion. The infantry attempted to charge the hill, but were repulsed by an overwhelming force the enemy, when we again forced them back with canister. Again the infantry attempt to carry the hill, but were driven back the second time, when we covered their retreat once more with canister, driving the enemy back again to the wood. The enemy seeing the battery without support, made a great effort to take it, but were driven back by the battery. Colonel Huston having ordered us off the field, in consequence of our canister having been exhausted, the battery retired in good order, with the exception of one caisson, which could not be brought off on by Lieutenant-Colonel McNulta, of the Ninety-fourth Illinois Infantry.
After receiving fresh supplies of ammunition, we again advanced to the front, and continued the action until night closed the contest. During the engagement we fired 562 rounds of shot, shell, and canister.
Our loss was 2 men killed and 6 wounded; 8 horses killed and 11 wounded.