No. 14. Report of Colonel Nelson Taylor,
Seventy-second New York Infantry, commanding Second Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE, HOOKER'S DIVISION, Camp before Williamsburg, Va., May 8, 1862.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by this brigade in the action of the 5th instant:
The brigade arrived on the ground about 9 a.m., having been much hindered in its march from its last camp, about 3 miles back, by a drenching rain, muddy road, and the frequent passing of cavalry and artillery. Receiving an order from the brigadier-general commanding the division, I sent the Seventy-second Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Moses, to relieve the First Massachusetts. In about two hours the Seventeenth Regiment, commanded by Colonel Dwight, was ordered to support the Seventy-second.
About 1 p.m. under the orders of the general commanding the division, I took the Seventy-third and Seventy-fourth Regiments, respectively commanded by Colonel Brewster and Acting Colonel Burtis, to re-enforce our left, which was being hard pressed. Having conducted the regiment on the ground indicated an order came to march the regiments back on the road and to take a position parallel to it and on the right of the Seventieth and Seventy-second, which was immediately executed, when they immediately engaged the enemy, who were now exposed to a severe cross-fire from the Seventieth and Seventy-second on the left and the Seventy-third and Seventy-fourth on the right. The enemy now began to fall back slowly, but desperately contending for every foot of ground forced from. At this time a sharp enfilading fire of shot and shell was opened on our right from a field fortification opposite.
The ammunition of the troops on our left was by this time entirely expended, and they began gradually to fall back behind our batteries in the main road, and from the same cause the others on the right did the same. A few well directed shots from our batteries kept the enemy in check while the regiments were reforming and receiving fresh supplies of ammunition, which had just arrived on the ground. This was about 4 p.m., at which time re-enforcements arrived and took up the position occupied by our troops. The Seventy-second and Seventy-third Regiments were marched subsequently to the rear of the troops engaged on the left as a support, and the Seventy-fourth kept in line at the rear to answer any call that might be made upon it. No other disposition was made of the troops during the last part of the day, except that the Seventy-third was marched across the road to support a battery.
At dark the regiments of the brigades were assembled in the timber on the east of the road, where they passed the night, having been relieved by the arrival of fresh troops. The bravery and conduct of the officers and men that fell under my observation were unexceptionable. They all did their whole duty as soldier, and I trust to the entire satisfaction of the brigadier-general commanding the division, under whose immediate supervision and by whose direction the action was conducted. For details of the parts taken by the different regiments I respectfully refer to the accompanying copies of reports of the regimental commanders, and for the number killed, wounded, and