prevent any further delay in communicating with him. I find myself much hampered for want of the means of crossing the Blackwater. The bridges are all destroyed from Zuni to Franklin and the fords blocked by slashing and other obstructions. The river is narrow and deep and we are in want of pontoons.
I sent Mr. Joseph Francis, the inventor of the metallic life-boat, to the Quartermaster-General yesterday with a model of his corrugated-iron pontoon wagon. It is a wagon, pontoon, and boat, dispensing with the cumbersome pontoon train which carries nothing, and enables an army to cross streams with its baggage train without delay and to pass over its heavy artillery with rapidity and safety. The pontoon wagon floats with 2,400 pounds in it and holds up its carriage. I am very desirous of having twenty of these wagons. They can be fitted as bodies to the carriages of the common wooden wagons which we have here, and enable us to accomplish all our object without adding to our baggage train. Mr. Francis has the means of constructing them at once at the factory of the corrugated-iron life-boats at Greenpoint, N. Y. He has just returned from Russia, and has had the satisfaction of seeing his pontoon wagon, after long-continued and severe tests, adopted by Great Britain and all the German States. I am satisfied that I can with twenty of them render valuable service in this quarter, and at the same time make a trial which will save the Government millions of dollars and thousands of lives by dispensing entirely with the heavy and expensive wooden pontoon train and giving our armies the means of crossing currents when pursued of pursuing, without delay.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN A. DIX,
Abstract from Return of the Department of Virginia, Major General John A. Dix commanding, for November 30, 1862.
Present for duty.
Command. Offic Men. Aggreg Aggreg Piec Remarks.
ers. ate ate es
presen presen of
t. t and fiel
Fort Monroe, 22 620 819 857 ....
Camp 43 1,112 1,331 1,390 12
Norfolk, 131 2,599 3,227 3,809 6
Suffolk, 476 9,431 12,027 14,224 20
Yorktown, 242 4,784 6,285 7,809 28 Outposts
General E. Glouceste
D. Keyes. r Point
Total... 914 18,546 23,689 28,089 66