War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0511 Chapter XXIII. BATTLE OF WILLIAMSBURG, VA.

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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

No. 36. Report of Brigadier General Erasmus D. Keyes,

U. S. Army, commanding Fourth Corps.

HEADQUARTERS FOURTH ARMY CORPS, New Kent Court-House, Va., May 14, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to report the operation of the Fourth Corps in the battle of Williamsburg on the 5th of May:

To enable you to understand the occurrences of the 5th instant it is necessary to allude to some of the movements of the days previous.

Smith's division arrived in front of the enemy's works late in the afternoon of the 4th instant; Couch's and Casey's divisions arrived and bivouacked at night-fall in the neighborhood of the Half-way House, about 4 1/2 miles, by the Yorktown and Williamsburg road, from fort Magruder. I arrived at the White House after dark, having left Warwick Court-House at 3 o'clock p.m., fifteen minutes after the receipt of my orders to march.

In the advance from Warwick River I received orders from Brigadier-General Sumner, who commanded the left wing during the operations before Yorktown, and in accordance with his instructions I directed two brigades, with two batteries and a regiment of cavalry, to reconnoiter the country toward Grove's wharf and the Half-way House, the infantry to proceed, if possible, to the Half-way House. Some conflict of orders arose, which will be seen by a reference to Brigadier-General Naglee's report [he having been in command of the reconnaissance].

On the advance the abandoned works of the enemy at Lee's Mill were found to be of great strength. The enemy had buried torpedoes in the ground, one of which exploded, killing 1 and wounding 6 others of Casey's division.

On my arrival at the White House I found there Brigadier-Generals Sumner and Heintzelman. The former, by right of seniority, assumed command, though none of his own corps were present. One division of Heintzelman's corps, under General Hooker, arrived in front of the enemy by a road branching to the left, and one division of my corps [Smith's] had arrived by the main road. Between the two divisions the rain had converted a portion of the ground into an impassable quagmire, and another portion, in the field of fire of the enemy's works, was a thicket of woods, through which it was nearly impossible for infantry to pass.

On my arrival it was too dark to judge of the field, which was mostly covered with forests. I learned, however, that some of our regular artillery and cavalry had been repulsed; that the enemy had a line of strong earthworks in front, and that his defenses stretched across the narrowest part of the Peninsula. Consequently I anticipated a battle for the next day, and accordingly wrote a peremptory order to Couch and Casey to move forward with their divisions the next morning at the break of day. To give greater force to the order I sent it by Captain