Narrative collated from the reports of Colonel N. Michler.*
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Upon the explosion of the mine [July 30, 1864] and failure of the assault the troops engaged were directed on the following day to resume their previous positions to a great extent, some few changes being ordered for the purpose of reducing their fronts and establishing reserves for ulterior movements. The plan of the siege by regular approaches having been abandoned, Colonel Michler was directed at the same time to "make such a disposition of the lines then occupied and therefore determined enable them to be held by a diminished force," and therefore determined to select an interior line, to consist of some few detached, inclosed works, subsequently to be connected by lines of infantry parapets. The first line selected was one lying on very commanding ground, and extending from the present Fort Sedgwick to the Rushmore house, immediately opposite Fort Clifton, one of the enemy's works on the Appomattox, at the head of navigation for large sea-going vessels, passing near the Avery, Friend, Dunn, and Jordan houses. This being considered too far to the rear of the then advanced position, and apparently yielding too much ground, for the possession of which such desperate fighting had taken place, he finally chose an intermediate one sites for Forts Rice, Meikel, Morton, Haskell, Stedman, and McGilvery were selected, and the intervening batteries and lines located. It had also been decided to enlarge and strengthen the lunette, the site of which is now occupied by Fort Sedgwick. By direction of Lieutenant-General Grant the supervision of the line in front of the Eighteenth Corps had also been placed under his direction. The construction of these different works was pushed rapidly forward by night, under the immediate charge of Captains Gillespie and Harwood and Lieutenants Howell, Benyaurd, and Lydecker, as much so as to sparsity of officers, the extreme heat of the weather, and the heavy and constant artillery fire of the enemy would permit.
Several officers of the Corps of Engineers, including Captains Mendell, Turnbull, and Farquhar, had been ordered away from the army on other duty, and some of the lieutenants were absent on sick leave. By the 20th of August the works were so near completion as to be in readiness for the contemplated movement on the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad. After the successful advance and holding of that most important thoroughfare he was directed to select positions for large works on or near that road for the protection of the left flank of the army, and also to connect them, by a system of redoubts, with Fort Sedgwick. On the 26th of August, in connection with ot "proceed at once to the construction of the redoubts proposed for the left of the line on the Weldon railroad, and of the works at the Burnt chimney and the Strong house," now designated Forts Dushane, Wadsworth, Howard, and Alexander Hays.
The construction of these works and intermediate batteries, connected by infantry parapets, was immediately commenced, under the more immediate charge of Lieutenants Howell, Benyaurd, and Lydecker, and was afterward turned over to Captains Folwell and McDonald, Fiftieth New York Volunteer Engineers. Owing to the
*The portion of this narrative here omitted is covered by full reports published in Series I, Vols. XXXVI and XL. See also Series I, Vols. XLII, XLVI, and LI, for reports of later operations.