GENERAL ORDERS.] HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, May 10, 1864-10 a.m.
Intelligence has been received officially that Major-General Butler at Petersburg has whipped the enemy badly, and is advancing on Richmond; that Genera Sherman has whipped the enemy at Tunnel Hill and Dalton; Johnston retreating and leaving his dead and wounded in our hands.
GEO. G. MEADE,
HEADQUARTERS ENGINEER BRIGADE, Washington, D. C. May 10, 1864.
Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND,
Assistant Adjutant-General, U. S. Army:
SIR: At about 9 o'clock this morning I received a letter from General Halleck, chief of staff, stating that the Secretary of War directed that I should have a pontoon bridge laid on the Rappahannock opposite Fredericksburg as early as practicable, calling on the Quartermaster's Department for the transportation required, and retaining the balance of the bridges and men here, subject to the orders of General Meade, and further ordering that I should report the progress in the execution of these orders to the Adjutant-General.
That progress is thus far as follows: In fifteen minutes after the receipt of the order I had placed in General Rucker's hands a schedule of the transportation required, asking that it might be furnished as early as practicable, and the pontoon-rafts, with the bridge proper, for towing will be ready before 1 p.m., or within one hour. The wagons and trucks are ready to be sent to the quartermaster as soon as notice is received from him that he is ready, and if the teams, barges, and steamers are ready in time, there appears nothing to prevent their being loaded this afternoon and reaching Aquia Creek before midnight; and on being loaded up there, if the road is clear, I shall expect the bridge to reach the Rappahannock and be laid ready for use by to-morrow evening.
I would state in this connection, for the consideration of the Department, that I am holding steamers and barges ready to transport bridging and other important material with the battalion of the Fifteenth New York Engineers at any moment an order is received from General Meade. This battalion consists of but four companies and some extra recruits. One of the two captains of any experience is now with 75 men at Rappahannock Station, where he had laid a bridge for General Burnside, and he writes me for orders, as he states he received none from General Burnside on leaving. The only other captain with the regiment of experience with pontoons I propose to send with 75 of his men to Fredericksburg.
But from the large amount of bridge [over 2,000 feet] and other material ready to be moved here the services of both these captains and most of their men seem to be indispensable. I propose, therefore, unless otherwise directed from your office, to recall these captains, the former as soon as my messenger returns from you and the latter as soon as his bridge shall be laid, with the bulk of their men,