Report of Colonel Samuel B.Hayman, Thirty-Seventh New York Infantry.
Headquarters Thirty-Seventh N.Y. Volunteers, Camp at Williamsburg, Va., May 6, 1862.
Captain: In obedience to a circular from brigade headquarters of this date I have the honor to submit the following report of the part performed by my regiment in the action of yesterday:
After a fatiguing march through rain and mud from camp near Yorktown the regiment reached the place of engagement, located in heavy timber and undergrowth, near Williamsburg, about 3 o’clock p.m. It was placed in position on the left of the Fifth Michigan, parallel to the supposed line of the enemy, and Company B, Captain James T. Maguire, was deployed as skirmishers nearly perpendicular to my line to protect my left flank. An almost continuous fire was soon opened upon the regiment by a concealed foe, which lasted about an hour, and which was returned with spirit for some time, when I ordered the fire cease until the enemy could be seen, to avoid an unnecessary loss of ammunition.
A scout was now sent to my front to observe the enemy, which soon returned and reported him moving to my left. This seemed to be confirmed by his fire, which was delivered in front and on my left. The whole regiment was now moved some distance to the left, and six companies deployed in extended order in a line, making something less than a right angle with my original line, as it was upon these six companies that the enemy exerted his greatest efforts, and they compelled him to abandon his design in that direction and retire entirely from the woods after a contest of probably an hour’s duration. The companies on the right accomplished a like result in reference to the enemy in front. The enemy carried most of his wounded with him, but a considerable number of his dead and some wounded were left, and three different parties seeking for the dead were captured by my pickets during the night.
After the enemy had retired eight companies of my regiment were deployed as skirmishers, extending from my original right to the left as far as the plain in front of Williamsburg. The other two companies were detached by order of Brigadier-General Berry-one to man, the other to defend the battery. No sign of the enemy was discovered by the pickets during the night, except small details looking for his dead.
The conduct of all my officers I consider worthy of commendation, I will, therefore, enumerate the names of those present:
Lieutenant Colonel Gilbert Riordan, Major Patrick H. Jones, Adjt. James Henry, Captain Philip Dougherty, First Lieutenant James Keelan, and Second Lieutenant Peter J. Smith, Company A; Captain James T. Maguire, First Lieutenant Chas. G. Vosburgh, and Second Lieutenant William J. Fennon, Company B; Captain James R. O’Beirne, First Lieutenant Jonathan W. Barley, and Second Lieutenant Edmund W. Brown, Company C; Captain John Long, First Lieutenant James D. Clarke, and Second Lieutenant James H. Markey, Company D; First Lieutenant John F. McConnin (commanding), and Second Lieutenant John Kiernan, Company E; Captain Anthony J. Diegnan, First Lieutenant Jeremiah O’Leary, and Second Lieutenant James Smith, Company F; First Lieutenant Patrick H. Hays (commanding), and Second Lieutenant John Massey, Company G; Captain Luke G. Harmon and Second Lieutenant William C. Green, Company H; Captain William T. Clarke, First Lieutenant George W. Baillet, and Second Lieutenant Constant S. Trevitt, Company I; and Captain William De Lacy and First Lieutenant Richard J. Murphy, Company K.
It is but just to say that the courage of the officers of the six left companies were most severely tested, and on that account their commanders are worthy of special notice. They were commanded by Capts. James T. Maguire, Clarke, De Lacy, O’Beirne, and Diegnan, and First Lieutenant Hays. I also deem worthy of notice First Sergt. Lawrence Murphy, Company K, and First Sergt. Martin Conboy, Company B. The conduct of the enlisted men of the regiment is deserving of the greatest praise, and without individual courage, under the circumstances of the engagement, but little could have been accomplished, and it is therefore to this circumstance I attribute in a great measure the success of my command.
I would also commend to the special consideration of the general commanding the following men, who, after being severely wounded, captured a number of prisoners: Company C, Corpl. Patrick Kiggan, Corpl. James Boyle, and Private Charles O’Brien; Company F, Private Henry Brady.
The regiment has to deplore the loss of two of its most valuable officers, First Lieuts. Pat. H. Hays and Jeremiah O’Leary, who were killed whilst gallantly leading their men in the most destructive fire of the enemy. The colonel commanding feels in the loss of these officers and the brave men who fell with them the great sacrifice incurred in the success of the regiment.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Commanding Thirty-seventh New York Volunteers