War of the Rebellion: Serial 095 Page 1165 Chapter LVIII. THE APPOMATTOX CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

No. 214. Report of Bvt. Brigadier General Peter S. Mitchie, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer.



Richmond, Va., May 12, 1865.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the engineering operations of the Army of the James during the campaign commencing March 27 and ending April 9, 1865:

My engineer force consisted of two battalions: First New York Volunteers Engineers, each of four companies, commanded by Bvt. Brigadier General James F. Hall, colonel First New York Volunteers Engineers; two companies heavy artillery, acting pontoniers; one company infantry, acting pontoniers, commanded by Captain James W. Lyon, Fourth Ehode Island Volunteers, chief pontonier Army of the James. Two companies of engineers and about one-half of the pontoniers were ordered to report to Bvt. Captain W. R. King, U. S. Egineers, assistant engineer, for duty with General Weitzel's command. Captain King was placed in charge of engineer operations north of the James, who reports operations briefly as follows, viz:

Marched into Richmond with engineer troops on 3rd April and aided in stopping progress of the fire. Began to build a defensive line, until the news of Lee's surrender stopped its progress. Built pontoon bridge across the James River, connecting Richmond and Manchester. The engineer force with the moving column of the army marched generally thus: Two companies, commanded by a field officer, to repair roads in advance, and the remainder following the leading division of infantry. There was a tool train of ten wagons, which followed the reserve engineer force. During the entire march General Hall reports having repaired and built twelve bridges and over twenty miles of road.

Pontoons.-The pontoon trains moved generally with the headquarters trains, and kept well up, causing no delay. The train consisted of fifteen canvas boats and four trestles, or 380 feet of bridge material, comprising in all a train of thirty-two wagons, including eight wagons for forage, one for spare chess, and one forge.

Topography.-My force consisted of Lieutenants Buckland and Brown, First New York Volunteer Engineers, and Lieutenant Hamberg, Twenty-third U. S. Colored Troops, who proceeded the column, and obtained information respecting roads and other matters useful to the army.

On the 29th of March we occupied the left of old entrenched line of the Army of the Potomac in front of Hatcher's Run. On the 30th of March a new line was established by the advance of the Twenty-fourth Army Corps, the rebel pickets being driven back into their entrenchments. During the night an advance of 400 yards was made, and a strong position secured-Turner's division connected with the Second Corps by a bridge built across Hatcher's Run by my pontoniers; Foster was on his right; and Birney's division, of the Twenty-fifth Army Corps, connected Foster with the left of the Sixth Army Corps, still in their entrenched line. The ground here was difficult to move over, being covered with brush and scrub timber, and so spongy from recent rains that it would not bear a horse. A line of entrenchments was constructed and a position secured for a battery of artillery, which commanded the rebel batteries in front, and which afterward ended in the advance of our troops on the morning of the 2nd of April.

On the 2nd I went, by your direction, to establish a line of defense, if it became necessary, and reported to General Gibbon. Finding that the success gained by our forces was complete I ordered the engineer troops to move at once, following the infantry. By direction of General