the enemy. One of his picket stations, on the opposite shore, lay behind a collection of houses and barns. The hostile pickets kept their stations during the time occupied in laying the bridge, but did not molest us until 8.15 a.m., when the balks of the last bay were in the act of being laid; they then rapidly ran forward 20 paces, peered over the bank, and ascertaining the position of our landing, hastily retired behind the houses. Immediately a considerable body, perhaps two companies of men, doubtless the picket reserve, appeared on the brow of the hill, deployed as skirmishers, and, from their commanding position, poured a volley upon the workmen on the bridge. Six men were wounded by the discharge, and the boats pierced in many places.
The firing was returned with promptness and great spirit by the reserve companies, whose conduct under this their first fire is deserving of much credit.
The artillery instantly opened on the enemy, and dispersed them in confusion. Twice afterward, in much larger numbers, they attempted to rally, but were each time scattered in ludicrous confusion by the accurate fire of the batteries. The bridge after this delay was completed at 9 a.m., under the superintendence of Lieutenant Slosson.
At 1.30 p.m., agreeably to orders, I took with me Companies B, C, I, E, and A, and marched to the incomplete pontoon bridge below the railroad. Dividing Company E into crews to man four pontoon boats, beside the reserve of bridge layers, I embarked 25 men of the Eighty-ninth New York Volunteers in each boat, and landed them on the other side, under cover of a well-directed fire of artillery and sharpshooters. The rebel musketeers, who had so seriously annoyed the bridge-builders during the day, seeing resistance now hopeless, surrendered themselves to the number of about 100. The work upon the bridge was then rapidly pressed forward and completed by dusk. In the ferrying across of the infantry and building the bridge, the coolness and skill of Company E is deserving of special praise. Company A also rendered signal assistance.
Meantime a similar service was rendered by Companies C and B at the upper pontoon bridge, infantry being conveyed across under the covering fire of artillery, and four bays of the bridge built; when Major Spaulding, of the Fiftieth, arrived and assumed command. These companies, however, continued to render assistance until the bridge was completed, and afforded passage to the troops ordered to garrison the captured city.
The whole command, with the exception of Company K, which guards the lower, and Company H, the upper (railroad) bridge, then returned to camp.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. A. MAGRUDER,
General D. P. WOODBURY,
Commanding Engineer Brigade.
CAMP NEAR FREDERICKSBURG, VA.,
[December 17, 1862.]
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that immediately on receiving your order to take up the bridges, on the night of the 15th, at about midnight, I left the camp with Companies E and K, the former commanded by Lieutenant Slosson, and the latter by Captain Sergeant.