town and on the Chickahominy, and he was unable to bear much physical labor or exposure. After reaching the James River he was compelled to leave the army by an illness which prostrated him for two months, during which time, however, he superintended the preparation of the campaign maps.
First Lieutenant N. J. Hall, Fifth Artillery (now colonel of the Seventh Michigan Volunteers), was assigned to duty with me as adjutant before Yorktown, and accompanied me in that capacity. Besides his services in this capacity, he executed valuable reconnaissances both at Yorktown and on Chickahominy. During the march of the army to the James River he was employed by yourself as bearer of dispatches, &c., between the different corps.
I have enumerated twelve officers of the Engineer Corps (including Lieutenant Abbot, Topographical Engineers). Of these one possessed the rank of brigadier-general of volunteers, another of lieutenant-colonel, aide-de-camp (the first is a major, the second a captain in the corps), and two were captains, seven others first lieutenants, and one a second lieutenant. The brigadier-general was so made expressly to enable him to command the brigade of volunteer regiments. The battalion of Regular Engineers was commanded by a captain, and each of its three companies by a single first lieutenant.
It will be thus seen that the Corps of Engineers as now organized does not furnish adequate rank even to command the limited number of engineer troops brought into the field. The engineers attached to the army corps (with the single exception of Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander, who derived his rank not from the corps, but from a law having no particular relation to engineers, and since repealed) were but lieutenants. In a European service the chief engineer serving with an army corps would be a field officer, generally a colonel.
There is a twofold evil in this want of rank: First, the great hardships and injustice to the officers themselves, for they have, almost without exception, refused or been high positions in the volunteer service (to which they have seen their contemporaries of the other branches elevated) on the ground that their services as engineers were absolutely necessary. Second, it is an evil to the service, since an adequate rank is almost as necessary to an officer for the efficient discharge of his duties as professional knowledge. The engineer's duty is a responsible one. He is called upon to decide important questions, to fix the positions of defensive works (and thereby of the troops who occupy them), to indicate the manner and points of attack of fortified positions. To give him the proper weight with those with whom he is associated he should have, as they have, adequate rank.
The campaign on the Peninsula called for great labor on the part of the engineers. The country, notwithstanding its early settlement, was a terra incognita. We knew the York River and the James River, and we had heard of the Chickahominy, and this was about the extent of our knowledge. Our maps were so incorrect, that they were found to be worthless before we reached Yorktown. New ones had to be prepared, based on reconnaissances made by the officers of engineers. The siege of Yorktown involved great responsibility, besides exposure and toil. The movements of the whole army were determined by the engineers. The Chickahominy again arrested us, where, of possible, the responsibility and labor of the engineer officers were increased. in fact, everywhere and on every occasion, even to our last position at Harrison's Landing, this responsibility and labor on the part of the engineers was incessant .