trains were taken to the banks of the river at 3 o'clock on the morning of that day, preparatory to the construction of two bridges at the rope ferry, above the center of the town; one bridge opposite the lower end of the town; one bridge about 1 mile below the town.
All these bridges were commenced soon after 3 o'clock, supported each by a regiment of infantry, placed under the cover of the adjacent low banks, and by numerous batteries of light and heavy guns, planted upon the crests, near the river.
The low bridge, under Major Magruder, Fifteenth Regiment New York Volunteers, was completed, all but the last lay, at 8.15 a.m., when a volley from the enemy wounded 5 of the men, and caused for the time a suspension of the work. The enemy, having no shelter, was soon dispersed by our artillery. The bridge was resumed and finished at 9 a.m., under the immediate superintendence of Lieutenant Slosson. The Fifteenth Regiment afterward assisted in completing the other bridges.
The lower town bridge and one of the upper ones, under Major Spaulding, Fiftieth Regiment New York Volunteers, were about two-thirds built at 6 a.m., when the enemy, availing himself of every possible cover, commenced a strong fire of musketry upon the pontoniers and the infantry supports. Captain Perkins, a fine officer of the Fiftieth Regiment, was instantly killed. Captains Brainerd and McDonald, both excellent officers, and many privates, were soon afterward wounded and disabled. Our artillery tried in vain to silence this fire, a dense fog making it impossible to distinguish objects on the opposite shore. The work was resumed several times during the morning, without making much further progress.
About 10 o'clock, I led 80 volunteers from the Eighth Connecticut, under Captain Marsh, Lieutenant Ford, and Lieutenant Morgan, to the scene of operations, placing one-half of them under cover as a reserve. Before the other half touched the bridge, several of them were shot down, and the remainder refused to work. The fog clearing up soon after noon, our artillery fire upon the opposite banks became very effective, and the fire of the enemy was greatly diminished.
About 3 o'clock, preparations were made for sending over men in pontoons, in accordance with the advice of General Hunt.
After another heavy cannonading, about 120 men of the Seventh Michigan, Hall's brigade, crossed over at the upper bridge in six pontoons, rowed each by three men of the Fiftieth, Lieutenant Robbins steering the leading boat to the point indicated. One of the oarsmen in this boat was shot down, and the boat was, for a short time, arrested. A few other casualties occurred while the men were passing over. As soon as they reached the opposite bank, they formed, and gallantly rushed to the buildings occupied by the enemy, and took some prisoners. Other parties rapidly followed, and the bridges were finished withers. Other parties rapidly followed, and the bridges were finished without further opposition. Soon afterward, 100 men of the Eighty-ninth New York crossed at the lower town bridge in four pontoons provided by Major Magruder, with crews from the Fifteenth New York. Others followed, and the sharpshooters of the enemy who still remained were immediately captured. The bridge was soon afterward finished.
I was greatly mortified in the morning to find that the pontoniers under my command would not continue at work until actually shot down. The officers and some of the men showed a willingness to do so, but the majority seemed to think their task a hopeless one. Perhaps I was unreasonable.
It is generally considered a brave feat to cross a bridge of any length under fire, although the time of danger may not last more than a minute