tion of the Potomac at that point with reference to the crossing of troops in sufficient number for offensive operations on the Virginia side.
We found the river swollen by recent rains some 10 feet above its ordinary height, and observation of this condition, which is certain to occur many times between this date and the 1st of May next, convinced us of the impracticability of using to advantage clumsy canal-boats for the purpose of bridging. Their employment would of necessity restrict your crossing both as to time and place, either of which would retard, if not render utterly impossible, your movement at the decisive moment. It will be unnecessary to give reasons in detail.
Flying bridges, rafts, and rope and pulley ferries are but inadequate and but tardy means of transport under favorable circumstances, but to the last degree uncertain and dangerous in cases of disaster or even of emergency.
We are of the opinion that not a moment should be lost in procuring bateaux, say 31 feet in length and 4 feet in width, made of white pine, and well called, to serve as floating, all according to the dimension furnished by Captain Abert, topographical engineer, of your staff.
This arrangement will possess the advantage of being made away from observation of the enemy and brought to the place of employment complete. The bateaux are easily placed and anchored; they offer but little exposure to injury from a strong correct or swollen stream, and the flooring is easily and quickly laid.
It is not known at what particular point within your lines you may desire to cross, and the brigade we propose will enable you to vary your line of operations at pleasure, for all the parts can be transported easily with the troops in all seasons, and put together at any point where a crossing might be desirable.
We are aware that you deem some safe and sure means of crossing the Potomac within your lines indispensably necessary, and if the Government cannot furnish you a pontoon train, we believe the arrangement we suggest is the nearest approach to it in economy, efficiency, and certainly of good result.
We have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
D. D. PERKINS,
Major and Aide-de-Camp, Chief of Staff.
JAMES W. ABERT,
Captain, U. S. Army, topographical Engineers.
HDQRS. OF THE ARMY A. G. O.,
Washington, January 23, 1864.
I. The boundaries of the Department of Western Virginia are incorrectly defined in the Army Register for 1862, page 90. They should be as follows: So much of Virginia as lies between its entire boundary on the west, the western slope of the Alleghany Mountains on the east, the boundaries of Pennsylvania and Maryland on the north and northeast, and of Tennessee on the south.
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By command of Major-General McClellan: