mortally wounded. It is understood that General Sheridan left the James River yesterday, on his return to the army. He is expected to reach here to-morrow or the next day.
Very respectfully, &c.,
FREDERICKSBURG, May 17, 1864.
(Received 3.30 p.m.)
Commanding Engineer Brigade, Belle Plain:
GENERAL: A second bridge at this point is necessary. You will procure from Washington the necessary pontoons and establish the bridge with the least delay possible.
By authority of the Secretary of War.
M. C. MEIGS,
HEADQUARTERS ENGINEER BRIGADE,
Belle Plain, May 17, 1864.
General S. WILLIAMS,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac:
SIR: I have the honor to report as follows as to the recent operations of the portion of my command remaining with me:
Upon a call of General Burnside of the 1st instant, and as authorized by General Meade's instructions of the 26th ultimo, a bridge was sent to and laid at Rappahannock Station, my officer being directed to report to General Burnside for authority when to leave; as, however, he did not obtain this, and he was exposed several days after the general had crossed, I at length ordered him into the depot, where he arrived with the bridge and his command on the 13th instant. Upon the 10th instant I received General Halleck's order to lay a bridge at Fredericksburg. This bridge, with land train, was at once sent here, with a suitable pontoon party, but delayed here by the quartermaster's department, was eventually used for wharves here.
Upon the 13th instant I received an order from the Secretary of War, by the Adjutant-General, by which I was directed to repair with my brigade to this place and have the roads placed in good order between this and Fredericksburg, being required to take every man, leaving only a guard over the property at the depot. Upon the 14th instant I received your orders to have my men repair the same roads. Under the orders to take my brigade and leave only a guard at the depot I felt obliged to take everything-all the siege-tool and supply-train teams, wagons, &c., and also virtually suspend all the repairs of pontoon at the depot; but after my train was shipped I learned from General Rucker that General Halleck had not intended to have these trains taken, though under your own orders, received on the 14th, I should not have done so, or broken up the work at the depot, but should have sent, say two-thirds of my whole force there, with a suitable staff officer, to repair these roads, retaining the balance, as I believe would have been desired by the general, ready to act under his previous confidential instruc-