September 8, 1863.
Colonel C. ROSS SMITH,
Chief of Staff:
Nothing new from my picket lines. General Meede's scouts recrossed the river near Ballard's Dam this morning at 2 o'clock. They report a brigade of rebel cavalry encamped opposite Ballard's Dam, and a large body of infantry a short distance back.
September 8, 1863.
Army of the Potomac:
General Heintzelman reports that he has no reliable troops for escorts of drafted men from Alexandria.
H. W. HALLECK,
HEADQUARTERS ENGINEER BRIGADE,
Washington, D. C., September 8, 1863.
General S. WILLIAMS,
Asst. Adjt. General, Army of the Potomac:
SIR: I have the honor to make the following report for the information of the commanding general:
The canvas pontoon train to the extent of thirty new boats, or for 600 feet, is essentially complete, with its wagons and trucks, for field service. This makes available 1,000 feet of canvas or 500 feet of trestle bridging, the two being combined in this species of train. The canvas for the additional 200 feet directed is also on hand, but although I have successively ordered the proper lumber from New York and from Baltimore, I have not yet been able to obtain it, and shall now probably have to prepare the remaining boat frames from the balks now on hand.
The mechanics of the command have been vigorously occupied upon the large number of trucks and wagons of the trains that have needed repairs, and in repairing the boats of the different trains, and especially in rebuilding the boats which had been destroyed upon the Upper Potomac, a large number of which had been recovered. In many cases these have been almost entirely renewed, and, it is reported to me, from the details of expenses kept, at much less than one-half the original cost of these boats to the Government by contract.
And while the daily infantry drills of the command have been kept up, the pontoon drills have also progressed, and latterly to my extreme satisfaction. I have to report that within the last week or two, by a method I have proposed since I first took charge of the brigade, and which I have now enforced under my personal supervision (against the preconceived notions, not to say prejudices of perhaps all the officers of the brigade), I have succeeded beyond my most sanguine expectations in a rapid construction and dismantling of a bridge suitable and in most cases applicable for use under fire. By
11 R R-VOL XXIX, PT II