When the bridge was again entirely completed across the main stream I found that the rapid current was fast undermining the legs of the trestle in the main channel, and I was completed to dismantle 40 feet of the bridge about the center and put in one of the pontoon-boats. Owing to the delay caused by these reconstruction the time occupied in constructing the bridge was longer than I had expected, but the south abutment was put in and the bridges finished at noon yesterday.
When the bridge was completed yesterday I returned to camp, leaving the approach at the south side of the river to be built by Captain Chester. During the construction of the bridge the approach on this side was built by Captain Perry, of the Fifteenth, who also rendered me valuable assistance in securing the north end of the bridge. With the slight changes suggested by you to acuminated the bridge to the falling or lower stage of water, and which, I hope to have finished before the south approach is ready for use, the bridges is perfectly secure for infantry in two ranks, and as safe for the passage of artillery as this plan of trestle can be made without strengthening it beyond the original plan. This bridge is-feet in length.
Colonel stuart, in his regimental report, speaks in the highest terms of the skill, energy, and endurance exhibited by the officers and men engaged on this work, and of their great exposure in the stream, which had become very deep and rapid before the trestle could be placed and secured, and of their utter indifference in regard to the enemy's shot and shell, which fell at one time in close proximity to them.
The bridges has been strengthened by placing piles beneath the trestle caps, prevent injury from the extreme high water.
A detachment under Captain Brainerd commenced the lower trestle bridge. Of the difficulties attending the construction of this bridge Colonel Stuart says:
One hundred of trestle bridge, which had been prepared for the stream when at low-water mark, and made up without a pontoon boat, which was not of sufficient length nor of the right character for the stream, swollen as it was by the recent rains on the night the work was commenced.
Added to this, the unlooked-for and remarkable rise of water on Sunday morning rendered it necessary for the men engaged in the construction of this bridge to work for nearly twelve hours in the cold water, frequently having to dive to place the legs of the trestles and swimming to reach the opposite bank; and this, too, mostly in the darkness of the night.
Bridges-One permanent bridge at Bottom's Bridge; two spans, 30 feet; four spans, 15 feet; length, 120 feet; roadway, 24 feet. One trestle and pontoon bridge, about 1 mile above New Bridge, by a party of the Fifteenth, under Captain Spaulding; length,-; 900 feet of crib and corduroy on south approach; by various details from the army, assisted by a party of Fifteenth, under Captain Chester. One trestle and pontoon bridge, 1 mile below New Bridge, of seven trestles and seven pontoons; length, 330 feet; by a party of the Fifteenth, under Captain Ketchum. One foot bridge, about 1 1/2 miles below New Bridge, of small trestle, covered with plank. Three canvas-boats span the main channel; length across the river and overflowed bottom lands, 1,200 feet; by a detachment of the Fifteenth, under Colonel Murphy. One bridge for infantry, 2 1/2 miles below New Bridge, connecting with General Naglee's bridge; length, 1,010 feet; width, 4 feet; by the Fifteenth, under Captain Ketchum and Captain Chester. Five small bridges, on the road from General Smith's headquarters to New Bridge, by detail from the Fifteenth, under Captain Chester.