pieces having been destroyed by the rebels rendered it impracticable to rebuild to former height.
Elk River bridge was first built by me as a common trestle. A freshed in December washed it out, and I substituted a bridge 50-foot spans, resting on cribs 18 feet high. It will do for a permanent structure and is finely built.
There was also built two pontoon bridges, one over Duck River with twelve bateaux made from plank and timber found at a saw-mill, length 340 feet; one over Elk River, 300 feet, made of flat-boats, so that they could be run into Tennessee River as ferry-boats, if they should be needed. The timber for this bridge was standing in trees, as well as all the timber for all the rest of the bridges. At Prospect a steam saw-mill was put up, and is now ready for Government use. It is a fine mill, and will saw 3,000 feet of lumber per day.
At each of the bridges good, sustained earth-works or stockades have been built to protect troops guarding them. The work upon them has been immense, and the works are very creditable ones. The water-tanks, switches, track, &c., have all been put in order, and some 2,000 cords of wood got out and put on the road, sawed ready for use, and the entire road put in perfect running order. All the work has been done by soldiers of this command and negroes pressed in the country, and when the amount of work down is considered, and the unfavorable weather is taken into account, I think it must be looked upon as very creditable to the command. The entire command during its stay on the road has lived entirely off of the country, drawing nothing from Government except sugar, coffee, and salt.
The mounted infantry has been kept busy watching the Tennessee River and the country west, and during the time several skirmishes and the fights at Athens, Florence and Gaines' Ferry occurred. Some 400 enlisted men and 42 officers had been captured and sent forward as prisoners of war.
The health of the command is excellent, the sick not averaging 5 per cent, of the total strength.
I cannot speak too highly of the industry, alacrity, and interest the command has shown in taking hold of and finishing the work. No emergency could arise but what some officer or man could be found to meet and master it. They all seemed to appreciate the importance of opening up the communication for the future operations of the army, and took hold of it with a determination that it should be done at the earliest possible moment, and I now report it finished and ready for use. During the time a large part of the command re-enlisted as veterans, but the men and officers engaged on the bridges to a large extent remained until they were finished before taking their furloughs.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. M. DODGE,
HEADQUARTERS LEFT WING, SIXTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Pulaski, Tenn., February 23, 1864
Colonel W. SWAYNE, Prospect:
Move with your regiment to the junction below Athens, and on the most commanding position put up an earth-work. Another regi-