Numbers 30. Report of Colonel James A. Suiter,
Thirty-fourth New York Infantry.
FAIR OAKS, IN FRONT OF RICHMOND, VA.
June 3, 1862
In pursuance of orders I beg leave to submit the following report:
I left camp near Tyler's house on the north side of Chickahominy at about 2 o'clock p.m. on Saturday, the 31st day of May, 1862, preceded by the First Minnesota Regiment, and followed by the Eighty-second New York (Second New York Militia) Regiment, Gorman's brigade. We passed up the river about 1 1/2 miles, when we crossed, encountering great difficulties in passing the low lands adjacent to the south bank of the river, occasioned by an overflow of the banks of the stream, the men having some of the way to march through the water and mud waist-deep. We arrived on this field about 5.30 p.m. I immediately formed my command in line, its right near the house on the high ground and extending thence easterly along a post-and-rail fence toward the wood in that direction; two pieces of artillery (a portion of Rickett's battery) being posted on the opposite side of said house; the First Minnesota Regiment filing off and forming in line of battle on the right, their line extending along and past a piece of woods situated on the westerly side of said house and about 150 yards distant from it; the Eighty-second New York forming in our rear, their line parallel with ours.
About this time we heard volleys of musketry on the westerly side of the house. I was ordered to forward in line over the fence, and then formed on the right into line. While I was executing the last-mentioned movement the right of my line received heavy volleys of musketry from the direction of the woods on the west side of the house, which was returned by my command as it arrived on the line. The Eighty-second New York wheeled into line on my right, its right resting upon and supporting the battery, its left on my right. The firing became general along the whole line and continued so for some time, the enemy several times emerging from the woods, evidently with the intention of charging upon and capturing the guns above mentioned, but were as often repulsed and driven back.
About 7.30 o'clock the enemy were seen to file out of the woods on the west, evidently with the intention of outflanking and turning our left. About this time the Twentieth Massachusetts Regiment wheeled into line in continuation of ours and on our left. A few well-directed volleys repulsed the enemy at this point and drove them back under cover of the woods. About a quarter of 8 o'clock I was ordered to charge the enemy with the bayonet in the woods, which they did in good order, pouring into them a withering and deadly fire as they charged, the enemy standing their ground till my command mounted the fence on the skirt of the woods, when they broke and ran in great confusion. We followed them about 20 rods, when we lost sight of them in the darkness. I was ordered to withdraw my command, which I did, and formed it in the field just outside of the wood, when we rested for the night.
My loss during the engagement was 19 killed, 76 wounded, and 3 missing.* Three of the wounded have since died.
The officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of my command
*But see revised statement, p. 758.