quite satisfied that but very little, if any, commissary or quartermaster stores were destroyed, excepting a quantity of bacon, that was represented to me as being spoiled. Eight locomotives, I think, all the wagons, horses, mules, beef cattle, clothing, tents, and, I think, all commissary stores, except the bacon, were saved. It was distinctly understood that if the freight cars could not be carried away they should be destroyed.
At Falmouth we necessarily destroyed some commissary stores and forage and a few old tents, for which we had no transportation, which was evidently proper, as they would have fallen into the hands of the rebels if they had not been destroyed, as well as the freight cars, if they had been left at Aquia Creek.
It may not be improper for me to give it as my opinion that the destruction of the wharf was no material loss, as it was very badly located. A wharf could be built a mile farther down at which vessels of 12 or 13 feet draught could be unloaded, and the ground back of this point is much better adapted for depot buildings than the old ground. A track could be run down to those grounds in two or three days, and bridging the Accokeek Creek, and throwing a pontoon bridge across Potomac Creek at Belle Plain, would give a much shorter and better road to Fredericksburg, over which loaded wagons could travel, and empty wagons could return by the old road. If it is expected to occupy that line again, it might be well to build a floating dock, some 600 feet in length, on the barges which were used in James River, ready to be towed to that place. It can be built in sections, and lashed together after reaching there, when it can be secured in position very quickly by piles and anchors.
You will excuse me, I am sure, for making these suggestions, as I have made the subject a matter of some study, and they can do no harm.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, yours,
A. E. BURNSIDE,
HEADQUARTERS NINTH ARMY CORPS,
Aquia Creek, Va., September 5, 1862.
The commanding general appoints, in his absence, Colonel Welsh, of the Forty-Fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, as commander of the post, who will be obeyed and respected accordingly.
Colonel Welsh, as commanding officer, will exercise his full discretion as to the time for evacuating the post, and will take what steps he may deem proper for the preservation of the Government stores and property (of these the first in importance are the locomotives), and he has full power, in the name of the commanding general, to detain what vessels may be necessary to effect purposes. He will destroy what stores he may be unable to transport, and, on leaving, will thoroughly destroy the buildings, wharves, and all Government property left.
The commanding general feels assured that Colonel Welsh will use the fullest vigilance in the care of his troops, and will, in any event, bring them off in safety.
As the Government may wish to retain possession of this place, the commanding general will endeavor to give him daily information of its intentions regarding it, but he will not allow any delay in instructions to interfere with his discretion in the matter.
By command of Major-General Burnside:
Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.