HEADQUARTERS ENGINEER BRIGADE,
Camp near Falmouth, Va., May 10, 1863.
Statement of operations of Engineer Brigade in laying and removing fourteen bridges, between April 28 and May 6, upon the Rappahannock River:
April 27, Captain [Timothy] Lubey, Fifteenth New York Engineers, was sent to Washington, with orders to get a canvas pontoon train, take it to Alexandria, and thence by railroad to Bealeton Station by 10.30 a. m. of the 28th. He reports that he was there, reporting to Captain Comstock by 7.30 a. m. on that day (28th); that he found teams ready, and at once proceeded to Kelly's Ford, where he arrived at 5.30 p. m. on that day, and laid his bridge by 7.45 p. m. on the 28th.
On April 28, about 11 a. m., I received orders to have two bridges laid at the Franklin Crossing and two near the mouth of Pollock's Mill Creek, all complete, by 3.30 a. m. of the 29th. The boats of the first two were ready at the bank for the most part at 1 to 2 a. m., but the covering force not accompanying the boats as planned, and their general not complying with my requisitions and orders, the crossing of this force was delayed till 4.30 to 5 a. m.
Between 5.45 and 7.15 a. m. the two bridges were laid at the Franklin Crossing, as ordered, and within the next three hours a third bridge by the orders of Major-General Newton. At Pollock's Mill Creek my orders were countermanded by the general commanding the working and covering force, for after the pontoons were dismounted and a few carried a short distance by hand, they were ordered to be reloaded on the wagons. This delayed the operations so that it was only at 4.30 a. m. that twenty boats were in the water, enough for 1,000 men, but no men were there to cross to protect the labor on the bridge, and the enemy shortly after opening fire upon the working force there, no further attempt was made to lay the bridge for some hours.
Upon hearing at the upper crossing of the repulse, I went to meet General Reynolds, and the result of our interview was, about 9 a. m., an attempt to cross on the part of his troops, which was at once successful, and the two bridges were laid between 10 and 11.45 a. m.
On April 30, I was ordered to have one of the bridges at each of these crossings taken up after dark and transported to Banks' Ford, and have them in position to be laid before daylight the next morning. These bridges were taken up after 8 p. m. and transported to the points named, about 15 to 16 miles, and were with the rear train entering into park there about 6.15 a. m. the 1st instant, a few teams being delayed by the upsetting of four or five pontoons and other wagons.
May 3, the enemy having left Banks' Ford about 1.30 to 2 p. m., and no countermand arriving, with the concurrent opinion of General [Henry J.] Hunt, although we then had no great force on either side there, one bridge was laid between 3 and 4.30 p. m., when an order arrived to send the second bridge to United States Ford for a third bridge there. This bridge, or sixteen boats of it, then harnessed, were started under Colonel [Clinton G.] Colgate within fifteen minutes, these sixteen being deemed amply sufficient there, as only fourteen had been needed in the bridge just laid at Banks' Ford, and the balance of the two trains, being fourteen boats, were retained for a second bridge at Banks' Ford in case an emergent necessity arrived for it. That necessity arrived, and the bridge was prepared for it, having been laid (a part of the time under a severe fire of shot and shell) in the afternoon of the 4th instant, and it was by these two bridges that General Sedgwick's corps and all