Joseph Hayes was born September 14, 1835, at South Berwick, Maine. He was prepared for college at Andover and was a member of the class of 1855 at Harvard, although he was not awarded a B.A. until 1862 "as of the Class of 1855." After leaving college he was in the banking business in Wisconsin for a time, then pursued the profession of civil engineer in Iowa, returning to Boston in 1859 to become a real estate broker. Hayes was appointed major of the 18th Massachusetts on July 26, 1861, although the regiment was not formally organized and mustered until August 24. With promotion to lieutenant colonel in August, and to colonel in March, he compiled a distinguished combat record on the Virginia Peninsula and at the battles of Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg (where his regiment charged Marye's Hill three separate times), Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg—all the time in the V Corps. On the morning of May 5, 1864, at the battle of the Wilderness, he was severely wounded by a bullet which made a deep furrow in his skull. Eleven days later both Gouverneur K.Warren and George G. Meade recommended him for promotion to brigadier general and he was appointed to rank from May 12. On August 19 of that year Hayes was captured during Warren's attempt to seize the Weldon Railroad near Globe Tavern during the siege of Petersburg; he was not exchanged for almost six months. During his imprisonment he was paroled and selected to distribute supplies to Federal prisoners in the South. On April 3, 1865, General Hayes took command of the 1st Brigade of Ayres's 2nd Division of the V Corps and was present with it at Appomattox. Declining a proffered commission in the Regular Army, and with the brevet of major general for gallantry in action, he returned to private life. He became interested in mining in Colorado and in South America, was a broker in New York City, and was the head of a coal company. In later years General Hayes's old head wound is said to have made him a periodic dipsomaniac; he became a virtual recluse in a small Pennsylvania village and cut himself off from his most intimate friends. A lifelong bachelor, he died in a private sanitarium in New York City on August 19, 1912, and was buried in South Berwick.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.