or two. How much more difficult to build a bridge exposed for hours to the same murderous fire, the danger increasing as the bridge is extended.
I found a loop-holed block-house, uninjured by your artillery, directly opposite our upper bridges, and only a few yards from their southern abutment. I also found in the neighborhood a rifle-pit behind a stone wall, some 200 feet long, and cellars inclosed by heavy walls, where the enemy could load and fire in almost perfect safety. There were many other secure shelters.
During the night of the 10th and 11th, between sunset and 2 o'clock, a corduroy road 1,000 fee long was laid by the Fourth Maine, under the superintendence of Lieutenant Van Brocklin, Fiftieth New York, at a point on the river about 14 miles below town. This ruse seems to have been very effective in deceiving the enemy.
The officers of my staff, Captain H. W. Bowers, Lieutenant Cassin and Hassler, and Captain Hine, Fiftieth New York, a volunteer aide for the time, were untiring during the night and day, going wherever duty called them, regardless of danger.
I inclose the reports of Major Magruder, commanding the Fifteenth New York, and of Major Spaulding, commanding a detachment of six companies of the Fiftieth New York. These highly efficient officers discharged their duties with great energy. They give more detailed accounts of the operations.
From personal observation, I am able to confirm Major Spaulding in praising the conduct of Captains Brainerd and Ford, and Lieutenants Robbins, Folley, and Palmer. Captain McDonald and Lieutenants McGrath and Dexter are also deservedly praised.
Besides the bridges above mentioned, one was built by the regular Sappers and Miners, under Lieutenant Cross, on the 11th instant, and another has since been built by the Fifteenth New York, a mile below the town, so that six bridges in good order now span the river. The three opposite the town are each 400 fee long. One of those below the town is also 400 feet long; one 420 feet, and one 440 feet.
In conclusion, I take pleasure in acknowledging the assistance of Lieutenant Comstock, chief engineer. He came upon the ground at a critical moment, when the first detachment of infantry had embarked to cross over, and gave a strong helping hand in urging and inducing others to follow.
I send herewith the official reports of the killed and wounded of the Engineer Brigade in the action of the 11th instant, amounting to 50 in all.*
D. P. WOODBURY,
Brigadier-General of Volunteers.
Major General J. G. PARKE,
Chief of Staff, Army of the Potomac.
KEY WEST, December 21, 1863.
MY DEAR GENERAL: I have read your interesting report of military operations during the past year, and I wish to thank you for all you have said incidentally relative to myself in connection with Burnside's operations at Fredericksburg.
*But see revised statement, p. 129.