does not take the men far from the line. The field return of these two divisions exhibits a strength of about 9,000 men, but of this number a considerable proportion, including drummers, musicians, and men borne for duty, but not available for fatigue, should be deducted. The Second Division has one brigade detached at Prince George Court-House, which furnishes a picket detail of about 200 men, and is engaged at the same time in constructing earth-works at that place. The details made from the brigade are not included in the statements given on the previous page. The details from the Second Division have been proportionally heavy compared with those from the First Division, in order to give the greater number of recruits in the latter division an opportunity for discipline and instruction. The practical working of the matter is that the men are on duty every day, so that the inspectors report that they cannot make the ordinary monthly inspection in the Second Division. In the First Division there is no adequate opportunity for drilling the recruits, a matter of vital importance. The men of both divisions have no time to keep their arms in proper order, or to pay the proper attention to the police of camp or the cleanliness of clothing or persons. The men have, in fact, become day laborers, and suffer in their proper character as soldiers. The effect on the morale of the troops I believe to be unfortunate.
The details for fatigue coming directly from the office of the chief engineer, or (as is usually the case) from some officer delegated by him, the commanding general may not be aware of the extent of labor performed by the corps. It has constructed a large proportion of the work about Petersburg, commencing with the rifle-pits to the right and left of the Hare house. After the corps was withdrawn from this line it constructed several lines on the left of the plank road, besides furnishing large details to aid General Warren in constructing redoubts along the plank road. After moving to the Deserted House the corps furnished a division daily for fatigue to aid in constructing the covered ways and field works on the front line, and built a large proportion of the line from the Chieves house to the Norfolk railroad. After its return from the first expedition to Deep Bottom it was again called on for these heavy details, and on its return from the second movement to Deep Bottom was engaged in heavy fatigue duties until the battle of Reams' Station. Since then it has built the entire line from the left of the plank road to the Norfolk road and part of the line on the right, felling a great extent of timber along the whole line of the Blackwater Swamp. The men have moved from place to place, building works and constructing lines they never occupy, and the result is that they have to a certain extent the habits of laborers, and are more familiar with the shovel than the musket. The very small number of officers present has rendered the discipline of these troops almost impossible.
The object in laying this communication before the commanding general is not to find fault at the labor done, the importance of which is apparent, but to respectfully inquire whether other troops have not enjoyed a better opportunity of discipline and instruction.
I have deferred representing this matter, but my commander are pressing upon me daily the fact that their men are worn out, not so much on account of the severity of the labor, but because of the continuous nature of it and the lack of any opportunity for rest or providing for the comfort of the men.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WINF'D S. HANCOCK,
Major-General of Volunteers.