tion over the swampy island tedious; the access on our side very bad and requiring much preliminary labor to make it practicable for artillery-a labor it would be difficult to conceal from the enemy. It is easy, however, to lay a pontoon bridge outside the causeway over the mouth of Ashton Swamp, giving us two bridges there, and by throwing another bridge over the Appomattox at Broadway we should have two routes.
RECONNAISSANCE FROM GENERAL BUTLER'S SIGNAL TOWER.
No new feature in topography was noted, but in the edge of woods about three quarters of a mile beyond Mrs. Dunn's house a recent earthwork, and one which appeared to have considerable profile, was observed. Farther to our left, through an opening in the narrow line of woods, a camp was seen behind recently constructed rifle-pits, at which a few men were seen at work prolonging the line toward Swift Creek. These works indicate that the enemy is intrenching a line from the heights near the Junction to Swift Creek. When the narrowness of the ground over which we must operate is considered, the fact that without intrenchments the advantages of the ground are all in favor of the enemy; since we must, to accomplish anything, carry the heights near the Junction, it does not seem to me advisable to make a serious attack here. It requires but an hour or two to re-enforce this rebel position from Petersburg. A demonstration here and one at the same time across the James at Jones' Neck might, under certain circumstances, be an adjunct to important operations elsewhere.
[J. G. BARNARD.]
JUNE 29, 1864.
[Major N. MICHLER:]
I yesterday reconnoitered the Appomattox from Point of Rocks to a point above Beasley's house. I found a point immediately below the present bridge, at which a pontoon bridge had been thrown, and where one can again be placed for the use of infantry. The approaches are quite steep, and would be difficult for wagons or artillery, for which the present bridge forms the best crossing. Opposite Port Walthall a bridge can also be thrown. The approach on east side is steep, but by cutting into the side of the hill a good road can be made. On the opposite side the country is low, cultivated to the water's edge, and open some distance back. A crossing at this point would be under the guns of our works below Port Walthall, and exposed to the Clifton batteries. Fifty boats would probably suffice for the bridge. The river from this point up is divided into several channels by a succession of flat, swampy islands, with swamp on either one side or the other, with no place practicable for a bridge, unless it be opposite the Beasley house. Here the ground on this side is low, but solid. The river is divided into two channels by a swampy island quite narrow; the eastern channel at low tide is narrow enough to step across, but at high tide is about four feet wide and three feet deep, with a muddy bottom. The whole stream is about 250 yards wide, the opposite bank high and favorable for resisting a crossing. The foot of the bank is concealed by the islands in the river, which are held by the enemy. If resisted I do not think that a crossing can be effected at that point.
C. W. HOWELL,
Lieutenant of Engineers.