department, was most pressing in his request to be allowed to join his company for duty upon this occasion, to which I assented, and he rendered most excellent service. Lieutenant Palmer also was very cool and efficient in the discharge of his duties. Captain Perkins was a brave and an efficient officer, and the service suffers a great loss in his death.
Some of the non-commissioned officers and privates showed the effects which are usually produced upon unarmed men placed for the first time under a heavy fire, and without the means of repelling the attack. They were panic-stricken, and it was difficult to make them join in the repeated attempts to complete the bridges; the conduct and bearing of many of them, however, was deserving of especial praise. Some of the privates deserve to occupy the places now held by unworthy men as non-commissioned officers, and when I receive the official reports of commandants of companies, I shall be happy to bring the names of these men to your favorable notice. I am under many obligations to the officers and men of the Fifteenth Regiment New York State Volunteer Engineers, for the able and timely services rendered us in completing the bridges at both crossings.
I have not yet received Lieutenant McGrath's official report of operations at the lower bridges. As soon as it is received I will forward it. He speaks in high terms of the conduct of Lieutenants Dexter and Van Rensselaer, and also of many of his men; others were panic-stricken, and by their conduct rendered themselves worse then useless. After the attack commenced at the upper crossing, all our efforts were directed toward the completion of the second bridge at this crossing. All of my spare pontoons then in the river had been left on the lower side of the bridge first built, and I therefore deemed it best to build the second bridge on the lower instead of the upper side, where it had been originally commenced. At 3 o'clock the next morning we commenced its construction, and at 6.30 o'clock it was ready for the passage of troops of either arm of the service. Many of the boats were so much damaged by the shot of the enemy that it was difficult to keep them afloat, but they have all been repaired or replaced, so that the bridges are now in good condition.
Major, Commanding Detachment.
General D. P. WOODBURY,
Commanding Engineer Brigade.
NEAR FREDERICKSBURG, VA.,
December 17, 1862.
GENERAL: In pursuance of orders received from you on the morning of the 16th instant, I detailed one company of my detachment, under command of Lieutenant Van Rensselaer, to proceed to the pontoon bridge below and near the railway crossing, for the purpose of removing the bridge when the troops had all crossed, and my instructions to Lieutenant Van Rensselaer were that he would receive his orders from you, and that he should do nothing toward dismantling the bridge until he should receive your orders to do so. Beyond this, I had nothing to do with dismantling the lower bridge. This company left camp, I think, about 4 o'clock in the morning. About the same time I left camp with the balance of my available force, and proceeded to the two upper pontoon bridges at the ferry, crossing Fredericksburg, to carry out your instructions for dismantling those bridges. My instructions from
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