miles west of town. In accordance with your orders, I pushed on in advance for the purpose of making a sketch of the roads leading from Hillsborough toward Canton, which plat and report was handed to you upon your arrival. Length of march, 12 miles.
February 24, in accordance with your orders, I accompanied the Third Brigade with the pioneer corps on the direct road to Canton for the purpose of constructing a bridge across Pearl River at Ratliff's Ferry. Our route was northwest during the forenoon, but nearly west in the afternoon, over an excellent road. Oaka ridges, with scattering pine and underbrush. Fine plantations under excellent cultivation; forage and provisions of all kinds in abundance. Halted for about three hours at Cofee Bogue, 17 miles from Hillsborough, to allow the men to rest and get dinner, and then moved on to Ratliff's plantation, 23 miles from Hillsborough, where the infantry went into camp on good ground, but water poor and inconvenient. I ordered the pioneer corps, under the division engineer officer, to tear down all the buildings on Ratliff's plantation in which there was lumber suitable for the proposed bridge, and accompanied the cavalry advance to Pearl River, 3 1/2 miles, for the purpose of locating the site of the bridge, which was selected at a point about 250 yards below the old ferry. Here we secured the ferry-flat, and sent two companies of cavalry to Edwards' Ferry, about 12 miles above, to bring down the ferry-boat. They arrived with it about 10 a. m. I then returned to Ratliff' plantation, where I learned that the Third and Fourth Divisions of our corps had, after leaving Hillsborough, moved west on the old Morton road, 13 miles, to intersection of Jackson and Morton road, 2 1/4 miles west of Coffee Bogue, and thence northwest, on road to Ratliff's Ferry, 2 3/4 miles to Burnham's plantation, where the command encamped near Hurricane Creek. Camping-ground good, but water poor. Soil, light clay and sand. Nearly the whole route through scrub-oak woods. Surface low, undulating. Road in very poor condition. Length of march, 15 3/4 miles.
February 25, commenced operations at daylight by sending the Fourth Division pioneer corps, under charge of Captain Merritt, to the river, and leaving the Third Division pioneer corps, under Captain Black, to get out and send forward the necessary timber. The stream being 152 feet in width at this point, we concluded to use only the two ferry-flats, which were each 56 feet in length by 14 feet in width, with a floating capacity of about 73,500 pounds. The small pontoons (4 1/2 by 14), captured at Meridian, were too light to be of any service in the bridge. The Third Division pioneer corps, having sent down enough lumber, were ordered forward and reported at the bridge at 11.30 a. m. The western portion of the bridge with debouche and road to connect up the west bank to main road was assigned to them, and the entrance and eastern portion of the bridge to the Fourth Division pioneer corps, under supervision of Captain Merritt. The 1 1/2-inch flooring was removed from the boats, and heavy cleats spiked along the inside of the boats 1 1/2 inches below the top. Two sets of stringers were also laid flush with the top of the cleats, and well braced. The old flooring was then railed, and over this another layer of 1-inch flooring, the ends flush with the outside of the boats and well secured by spiking and heavy guide planks. A crib abutment was built at the east end of the bridge, extending out about 5 feet into the stream. A heavy oak bent, 7 feet in height, was set 20 feet beyond this, and four 6 by 9-inch stringers