War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0129 Chapter XXXVI. GENERAL REPORTS.

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down materials brought to the water, approaches prepared, and the bridge completed, so that by 4. 30 p. m. the troops were in full motion across it. The stream at this place is about 5 feet deep. This bridge was simply a continuous raft 166 feet long, 12 feet wide, with three rows of large mill-beams lying across the current, and the intervals between them closely filled by buoyant timber; the whole firmly tied together by a cross-floor or deck of light 2-inch stuff. The roadway, the proper width, was made by laying the same kind of material parallel with the axis of the bridge. Side rails of 5-inch scantling were laid to keep the teams on the proper track. The approaches were over quicksand; were corduroyed and covered with earth. The abutments were formed by building a slight crib-work, and filling in with rails covered by sand.

From the very gentle current of the stream only one guy was used, and that as a simple precaution. From the structure of the bridge, and the manner in which it was joined with the store, it was necessarily sufficiently rigid.

By 7. 30 p. m. I had arrived at the Grindstone Ford, North Fork of Bayou Pierre, distant 8 miles from Port Gibson. At this place found the fine suspension bridge, similar to that at Port Gibson, in flames; but, with the assistance of the escort and a few negroes from the plantation near by, the fire was soon extinguished. I found, by an examination of the ford, that it was entirely practicable for infantry, though, from bad approaches and quicksand in places, rather difficult for cavalry or artillery. The roadway, side-truss, and string-pieces of the suspension bridge for 120 feet, beginning on the farther side near the abutments, were entirely destroyed; but the cross-ties were burned entirely off. They were 5 by 9 inches, and, with the exception of the four mentioned, had left from 3 to 7 inches of sound timber, quite a number being reduced to the former dimensions. The charred parts were left undisturbed, and dispositions made to construct a new roadway over the remains of the old one, so as to distribute all of the strain upon that part of the cross-tie just next to the stirrups of the suspension-rods. Several long pieces of timber, 3 by 7, were found

near the bridge. These were placed at intervals of 3 feet, the ends projecting a foot beyond the side rails or new string-pieces. Where the old ties were but slightly injured, wedges were placed between them and the new ones near the axis of the bridge. Five string-pieces, 3 by 7, were laid, and the road covering, of boards of various thicknesses and qualities, obtained from the farm houses near by, was then put down, secured by side rails, spiked, and lashed to their places. The roadway was made perfectly secure by rack-lashings at intervals of about 12 feet. The rope for this purpose was 5-inch grass cable, passing around the new string-pieces and cross-ties and over the suspension-chain. The lashings were drawn taut by using rack-sticks 5 feet long and twisting around the suspension-rods. The new roadway being about 10 inches above the level of the old one, ramps of the proper declivity were constructed at both ends.

The pioneer company and detail did not report till 11. 30 p. m. By 5. 30 a. m. the next morning the bridge was completed and the army in full march.