War of the Rebellion: Serial 031 Page 0150 OPERATIONS IN N. VA. W. VA., MD., AND PA.

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to General Woodbury. Had this been done, the pontoon wagons could have been placed on the rafts, quartermaster teams furnished at Belle Plain to haul the trains to Fredericksburg, where they might easily have been on the night of the 18th. After disposing of these trains to go by water, he proceeded to the city with Captain Strang, quartermaster Engineer Brigade, and drew a large number of additional horses (he thinks over 200) for the land train, and took them to his camp during the night. The harness was delivered during the next day in boxes. All this harness had to be put together and fitted the horses. Many of the animals had apparently never been in harness before, and it was difficult to find leaders that could be guided by one line. Besides this labor, the bridge train had to be loaded, teamsters brought from Alexandria, and rations and forage drawn. It was only by the most incessant labor of his whole command that the train was prepared to move on the afternoon of the 19th. It passed through Alexandria that night and camped outside the city. It had commenced raining before the train left Washington, and continued to do so with little intermission for three days. The roads got worse as it advanced. In many places the wagons could only be moved by the greatest exertions of the men, lifting them out while standing in deep water and mud. With all the strength of the worn-out animals, and the utmost exertions of both officers and men, who labored with a zeal and energy beyond all praise, from daylight to near midnight on the 21st, the train could be moved but about 5 miles. Finding that, even if time were no object, neither animals nor men could endure the labor necessary to move the trains to Fredericksburg over such roads, Colonel Spaulding determined, on the 22d, to send an officer back to Alexandria for a steamer to meet him at the mouth of the Occoquan, and there, if the roads were not much improved, to put his train into the water, tow it to Belle Plain, and let the animals go on by land. Captain Ferguson, quartermaster, very promptly forwarded the steamer, and it arrived off the mouth of the Occoquan on the morning of the 23d.

On the afternoon of the 22d, the train reached the Occoquan. Colonel Spaulding built a pontoon bridge of 280 feet to take the train over the river, and camped on the other side that night. Early the next morning, the 23d, this bridge was dismantled, made up in rafts, all the bridge material loaded on the rafts, and the animals sent by land. In order to be able to move the boats to Fredericksburg, in case his teams did not reach Belle Plain as soon as the trains, he also took the pontoon wagons apart and loaded them on the rafts. Although the Occoquan was some 12 feet deep where he bridged it, it was so shallow on the flats near the mouth that his rafts got aground, and it was only by taking advantage of the highest tide, at 4 o'clock on the morning of the 24th, that he was enabled to pass out into the Potomac. He found the steamer waiting for him some distance below, and he rowed to it.

The water in the harbor at Belle Plain was too shallow for the steamer to enter, and the party was towed in by a small tug, reaching the wharf just before dark. There he found quartermaster's teams waiting for him, and he commenced immediately unloading the wagons, putting them together, and loading them with boats and with bridge material. At midnight the men were allowed to lie down for a little rest. At 4 o'clock the next morning, 25th, the work was resumed, and at 10 a.m. the train started for Falmouth, arriving near general headquarters about 3 p.m.

Just before leaving Belle Plain with the trains, his teams arrived there. He directed the quartermaster to rest and feed the animals, load the army wagons with forage, and follow on to Falmouth.