War of the Rebellion: Serial 107 Page 0652 Chapter LXIII. MD., E. N. C., PA., VA., EXCEPT S. W., & W. VA.

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shot. He reported that as far as he went the road was in a similar condition to this side, viz, hard and practicable but with sluices across it of from one two feet deep.

J. G. B.



General R. B. MARCY,

Chief of Staff, Army of the Potomac:

Colonel Alexander, of the Corps of Engineers, has shown me this morning a letter from yourself directing him to take charge of all the bridges over the Chickahominy and to push on their construction, &c.* This information was received by me eighteen hours after one of the two trestle bridges instructed to me had been finished, and some four hours after the other had been finished, both by troops belonging to the Engineer Brigade. General Barnard, having general charge of the engineering of this army, had necessarily charge of these bridges and had paid great attention to their sites and to everything pertaining to them. Still he is not alone affected by this order. I feed that my own operations with the troops under my command are the real cause of this order; that I have not fulfilled the expectations of the commanding general. My own reputation as an engineer and a soldier seems to be touched, and I feel it keenly. I would much rather lose my life in battle than suffer justly in reputation. I do not feel that I deserve in any degree this slur. I respectfully submit a statement of the circumstances, premising, first I shall cheerfully obey the orders of the commanding general, however disagreable; second that I cannot be justly held responsible for not knowing the day before yesterday what nobody in this army then knew, viz, that the insignificant stream before us was about to become a formibable river; third, ible for any want of experience or skill in pontoon or trestle-bridge making in the troops under my command, because it has never been in my power to drill them. The materials were packed up for transportation when I assumed command; fourth, I am not responsible for the absence of bridge material and of transportation. I have tried constantly but in vain to obtain teams sufficient to bring up pontoon trains from the Pamunkey. On the 28th ultimo I was directed by you to return to White House Point the mule teams belonging to a trestle train under my charge. I did so, retaining six as indispensable to the execution of previous orders. When the emergency arose, I had only these six teams; fifth, I have not much confidence in our trestle bridges. The caps particularly are liable to break. The sun cracks them, handing injures them, and they are too delicate and require too much care. I say this in view of the future.

At 1,30 p. m., when the battle began over the river, I was in the woods two miles below New Bridge at work on a bridge, or set of bridges over the Chickahiminy. I comprehended in an instant the full import of the attack and hastened back to prepare for bridges. The six teams left to me I caused to be harnessed up and added to them as many teams as I could raise in my brigade. At the same time I directed the bridge builders to hold themselves in readiness. I afterward received your orders to make such preparations. About 10 o'clock on the night of the 31st ultimo I received from your orders to commence bridges immedialety. The night was very dark, and I urged upon you the expediency of waiting till daybreak. General Barnard, who had seen


* See June 1, p. 648.