the enemy, the other abutment and connection could be completed for the passage of artillery.
In the swing of the bridge it may be remarked that with every person in the pontoons, even to the officers (who will occasionally rise up to observe and give directions), with all concealed from view except the one or two boatmen in each boat, who by their double the exposed parts of the bridge), there is scarcely any opportunity (as appeared evident in the drills) for the effective use of sharpshooters against the bridge party, or even for ordinary small volleys of musketry. While the long, weary hours of exposure in laying the bridges by successive pontoon at Fredericksburg in December, 1862, or even the supposed improved plan by which they were afterward laid, by previously embarking masses of men in pontoons to cross first to clear the skirmishers of the enemy, by exposing such masses to large loss by volleys from an enemy, it is believed, offer no pretense of safety, speed of passage, or efficiency like the mode proposed.
The details of the execution or the drill for this construction is very simple, being as follows: Where the shore will allow, the train of pontoon trucks is drawn along the edge of the shore, closed and wheeled to distances of about 20 feet, with the sterns of the boats ready to be run at once into the water and the balks slid off opposite to them. The chess wagons (as chess for two bays are carried on each) are brought at the same time in front of the space between each pair of pontoons, and the chess there run off, the space between each odd pontoon and the next higher numbered boat being left for free communication. If the immediate shore or river edge is a high steep bank (the only case where this method may not be available) and unapproachable by wheels, the pontoons can be placed in the water at the most convenient points and floated to their proper positions, and the balks and chess can be very speedily carried and arranged as above proposed, with the large force of troops usually assisting on such occasions, by whom it can in almost all cases by easily passed down to the boats.
The material being thus placed and ready, and the pontoniers arranged in squads of a non-commissioned officer and 6 to 12 men each, according to the number available, and the boats being numbered from the near-shore abutments or pivot flank of the raft, and the squads assigned and in position at the respective sets of balks, at the order for construction they place the balks (the two outer balks first) between each or any two of the boats by the easy movement of the partial rafts in the water. It has been found that even the laying of these in succession is not requisite. The remaining balks are then placed and lashed, and as soon as the lashings are completed over any even-numbered boat, the placing of the chess commences, being laid both ways from the center line of the pontoon over the adjacent bays, the lashing rails being placed on immediately that any bay is completed. The rails over each pair of boats (as between Nos. 1 and 2, Nos. 3 and 4, &c.), should be laid as inner rails, and between the pairs as outer rails to prevent irregularities. Each squad will lash the rafts upon the bay above its boat, or between that and the next higher numbered boat.
As soon as any squad has lashed the side rails, it takes position at once in the boat, concealed below the gunwales, excepting the one or two oarsmen previously designated, who raise the oars ready to let
30 R R-VOL XXIX, PT II