War of the Rebellion: Serial 045 Page 0063 (Untitled)

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or charger of failure, of the pontoon trains, as not speedily and successfully performing the duties required and expected of them. It was the want of a proper co-operation of the forces usually detailed from other corps of the army to protect and assist the Engineer Brigade in times of emergency. I soon after, upon full conviction that this was the cause, or a great cause, of the alleged delays, made a report to the commanding general upon the 18th of March, in which I stated my earnest sense of the imperative necessity there was of such an arrangement that in all cases when other troops were detailed to aid and protect the Engineer Brigade in its operations, such aiding and protecting forces should be directly and entirely under the command of the officer directing the engineer operations; and I regret to be compelled to state that in the operations of my brigade since then, the correctness of my representation has been but too fully shown by the losses and delays that have occurred from the need and want of this undisputed and undivided command. This report of the 18th of March was returned to me early in April, with an indorsement, the substance of which was that when such troops or such assistance was required, it would be furnished; and, as I then understood it, and as I have always understood it since in my conversations with the commanding general, furnished in accordance with the terms of my recommendations and report. I regret to say, however, that in the principal operations that I have been called upon to execute since then, this has not been so understood to be the case by the commanding officers of the troops detailed to aid and protect those operations. Upon the morning of the 29th of April, the directions which I gave to the senior officer commanding the troops detailed to aid and protect us in laying the bridges at the Franklin Crossing, were not complied with, as he appeared not to consider himself under my command. And the directions given by me in relation to the laying of the bridges at the lower or Reynolds Crossing, were countermanded by the officer in charge of the assisting troops. The result was, that at the upper crossing the laying the laying of the bridges was delayed about three to four hours, and the lower position about six to eight hour, with a considerable loss of men, which I attribute principally, if not entirely, to the non-execution of the directions given by me to the commanders of the assisting forces. In the more recent operations in the laying of the bridges at the Franklin Crossing, upon the 5th instant, the like refusal to comply with my wishes occurred, with a worse result. I desired of the general commanding the assisting force that his men should accompany the pontoons to the river's edge, to aid in any difficulty, and to be ready to cross at the earliest moment. He declined this, or to send his men down until my boats were down at the bank or in the water ready to cross, and we should find ourselves attacked so strongly as to require his aid, when he would supply it upon its being sent for. The consequence of this was considerable delay, and a long-continued, unnecessary exposure of my men (without rear protection) to the fire of the enemy, by which they sustained very severe loss, much more, as I understand it, than all the rest of the troops besides in that affair, which delay and loss I consider resulted mainly from my wishes not having been carried out. This has not however, been, formally reported, because I saw that the commanding officer of these troops did not consider himself as under my directions.