Colonel Alexander, Lieutenants Reese, Cross, and Farquhar, I reconnoitered the Peninsula just below Charles City Court-House, with a view to its eligibility as a defensive position. Subsequently General Woodbury examined the country from Wilson's Wharf across to the Chickahominy, and caused a map of the roads leading from Harrison's Landing to various points on the Chickahominy to be made by officers of his brigade.
on the 10th of August Lieutenant Comstock received orders from yourself to make an examination of the Chickahominy at Barrett's Ferry and roads leading to it, and on his return that night orders were issued for the construction of a bridge. The material (which consisted of sixty-one new pontoons and thirty-one old ones) was at Fort Monroe, and it took till the morning of the 12th to get it up to the point mentioned.
At noon of the 13th the material was all unloaded and the bridge commenced at both ends and in the middle, Captain Spaulding, Fiftieth Regiment New York Volunteers, being in charge of the western end, Lieutenant Comstock of the middle, and Lieutenant Cross of the eastern end; Captain Duane being in charge of the whole. As the pontoniers had been severely worked during the two preceding days the work was suspended during the night and resumed in the morning, the bridge being finished at 9.30 a. m. on the 14th, and a squadron of cavalry crossing at 10 a. m. The bridge was 1,980 feet long. The western end was built by successive pontoons, the rest by rafts. At times there was difficulty in maneuvering the rafts, from the depth of the water and the strength of the tidal currents. After its completion it was covered with straw to prevent the wear of the flooring.
Excepting Heintzelman's corps, the whole Army of the Potomac, with its artillery and baggage wagons, crossed the bridge. There was no interruption to travel, the accidents being that a few horses got overboard without injury to the bridge. The straw proved a perfect protection to the flooring, scarcely a plank being found injured. The advance guard of General Porter passed on the morning of Friday, the 15th, and at 10 a. m. August 18 the extreme rear guard had passed. At 2.30 p. m. the boats were all out of the bridge, and at 3 p. m. all the bridge material was in tow of steamers bound for Old Point. Besides the officers already mentioned, Captain Duane was assisted by Lieutenant Reese.
On Friday, the 15th, I left Harrison's Landing by steamer for Fort Monroe, under orders from the commanding general, and on the 16th I received a telegram from the Headquarters at Washington relieving me from duty with the Army of the Potomac.
Some allusion to the services of officers and troops during the campaign is called for from me in such a report as this. The account here given and in the report of the siege of Yorktown and the various sub reports which accompany this will give a pretty clear idea of the amount and character of their services.
In Brigadier General D. P. Woodbury I found an able and zealous coadjutor. The duties of his brigade did not give him a prominent part in the actual siege works of Yorktown, the Battery No.$, of 13-inch mortars, being the only one laid out and superintended by him, but in the construction of the numerous bridges and roads and in the making of gabions and fascines, the services of himself and brigade were arduous and important; and from Lieutenants Hassler and Farrell I received valuable assistance in reconnoitering the works.