HDQRS. FIFTH PROV. ARMY CORPS, Numbers 11.
Camp near New Bridge, Va., May 30, 1862.
The First Regiment Berdan's U. S. Sharpshooters, Colonel H. Berdan commanding, is assigned to duty with Martindale's brigade. Colonel Berdan will report to Brigadier-General Martindale without delay.
By command of Brigadier General F. J. Porter:
FRED. T. LOCKE,
CAMP NEAR NEW BRIDGE, VA.,
May 30, 1862.
Brigadier General J. G. BARNARD,
Chief Engineer, Army of the Potomac:
SIR: I have to report my operations since the arrival of General Franklin's corps at Cold Harbor on the 21st instant. On the following day I accompanied a reconnaissance to Mechanicsville, with instructions from General Franklin to drive the enemy over the Chickahominy at that place. This we succeeded in doing, with the loss of only 2 men killed and 1 wounded. I sketched the roads about the village, and gave all the information about the bridge there which I was able to obtain to Lieutenant Abbot, of the Topographical Engineers. On the 23rd I reconnoitered the Chickahominy in the vicinity of New Bridge. In the afternoon I made an ascension in the balloon and arrived at the conclusion that the enemy's forces at that time were stationed above and below Richmond near the James River. I drew my conclusions from the smoke of the camp-fires about sunset, and I thought there was but little force between us and Richmond. On the 24th I again visited Mechanicsville, but obtained no new information. On the 25th I examined the river at New Bridge and at several points above and below. The distance between the abutments at New Bridge is 100 feet 5 inches. A pontoon bridge can be built there in less time than any other. Since that time I have been engaged, with a daily detail of about 400 men, on the average, in cutting material for corduroying the roads in the vicinity of the proposed bridges over the Chickahominy and for bridging the ditches in the fields across which our roads will have to pass. Unless the weather should be unfavorable when we cross the river I think there will be sufficient of this material cut by to-night or at least by to-morrow night.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. S. ALEXANDER,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Aide-de-Camp.
MANASSAS, May 30, 1862.
Your telegram is received.* General McDowell wishes you to draw in your forces, massing them on the left bank of the river and holding yourself on the defensive and keeping Fredericksburg. Guard the bridges to Aquia Creek by completion of the block-houses near them.
Chief of Staff.
*See VOL. XII, Part III, p. 296.