War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0503 Chapter XXIII. BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG, VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

To mention any one officer or soldier over another would be gross injustice to the rest, and if it is deemed necessary to mention those who behaved well I would find it necessary to forward my muster rolls.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Colonel Thirty-eighth Regiment N. Y. Volunteers.

Captain G. W. MINDIL,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

No. 31. Report of Colonel Edward J. Riley,

Fortieth New York Infantry.


Captain: In pursuance of orders from your headquarters I respectfully submit the following report of the proceedings of the regiment under my command during the attack upon the works in front of Williamsburg.

In the neighborhood of 3 p.m. of the 5th instant we, in conjunction with the Thirty-eighth New York, were ordered to advance to the front, in order to drive back the enemy's skirmishers. Reaching the front we followed the Thirty-eighth by the flank into the woods upon the right-hand side of the road, when the Thirty-eighth were sent forward in line, while the Fortieth were divided in two wings, the right wing going forward to immediately support the Thirty-eighth and the left wing to act as reserve.

Having not a single field officer present on duty, I went forward with the right wing and advanced into the felled timber, where, after getting to the front, I discovered the enemy, upon whom we opened fire, they returning it hotly with musketry and shells. I also discovered that we were unmasked by the Thirty-eighth New York moving toward the right, when, considering some support necessary, I searched for my left wing, and found that they had been ordered to the left of the road by General Kearny, who gallantly led them forward until by a brisk dash they drove the enemy from the left of the timber back toward their rifle pits. Our men held their position thus until night-fall, when the enemy retired to their intrenchments. After night, various rumors being sent along the line to come in, &c., and finding that a large number of men, being utterly exhausted, were going in to rest, and having no orders to come in or hold our ground, I came in and found Brigadier-General Birney, who ordered me to take those men of the right wing back from where they were formed in the road and establish a strong picket line along the front where the right companies were stationed and to let the left-wing companies remain in, which I immediately did, re-establishing the line myself. About 6 a.m. the following morning we were relieved. Having learned that the general commanding division desires the names of the officers of the left wing with a view to commend them, I would respectfully recommend that the right wing deserves equally honorable mention, they having maintained steadily their advance under a galling cross-fire until the enemy ceased firing and retired, and having sustained a greater loss in killed and wounded than the left wing, and I was much pleased with their