Number 247. Petersburg Campaign Reports of Bvt. Major Peter S. Michie, Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, Acting Chief Engineer, of operations August 1-December 20

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 247. Reports of Bvt. Major Peter S. Michie, Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, Acting Chief Engineer, of operations August 1-December 20.1

HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
CHIEF ENGINEER’S OFFICE,

September 10, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations of this department for the month of August, 1864:

Early in the month Brigadier General G. Weitzel, chief engineer, left for Fortress Monroe, and subsequently on leave of absence, owing to severe illness contracted in active service in the field. On the 3rd of August the line of entrenchments were repaired and new abatis laid wherever the old had been burnt our by the fires in the woods. A pontoon bridge 560 feet long was laid on the Appomattox River for the passage of the Second Army Corps on the same day. On the 5th of August a survey of the locality called Dutch Gap was made for the purpose of deciding on the practicability of cutting a canal for the passage of iron-clads. The report was favorable, the following gestures being notice: The width of the neck or gap is 500 feet from high-water mark on the north and south side. The height above high water mark on the north end, or center line of the gap, is thirty-eight and two-tenths feet, and at sixty feet on either side of this line is forty-two and eighty-tenths feet. The height at south end on center line is four feet and at sixty feet on either side of this line is forty-two and eight-tenths feet. The total amount of excavation in round numbers is 50,000 cubic yards or a canal 500 feet long, fifteen feet deep, eighty-five feet wide at the bottom, leaving a berm fifteen feet wide on each side of the canal. This takes in account a slope of 1 on 1 in all the cuttings, which, from experience, will be unnecessary in the nature of the soil. It will be much steeper. The soil consists of a layer from twelve to sixteen feet thick in the average, of an indurated clay and sand, not easily moved to the pick, underneath which is a layer of heavy gravel and sand, the gravel of the size of ordinary paving stones. The work was ordered to be commenced on the 10th of August. The ground proving very hard, recourse was had to sub-soil plows to loosen the earth, and this assisted very materially. Eighteen carts and twelve wagons were employed in removing the excavation, which was dumped on a low flat just above the lower mouth of the gap. I have proposed to carry on the excavation down to the required depth, leaving an embankment at each end fifteen feet thick, which will be blown out simultaneously by four

charges of powder-two in each dam-and each of 500 pounds sunk at a depth of seven feet from the surface. These will be so arranged that the radii formed by each will overlap each other about the center of the dam. These charges will be inclosed in gutta percha cylinders thirty inches in diameter and thirty inches high, and exploded by means of the Gomez fuse. I have now at work a dredging machine excavating on the water side (south), designing to make a hole nearly thirty feet deep, so as to receive the debris from the explosion, and leave sufficient depth of water afterward.

On the enemy’s side of the gap the shore is very bold, and we rely on the representations of Professor Maillefert, now on duty with the navy, who says that it is perfectly possible to deepen the water to any extent by exploding torpedoes under water on the bottom. The length of river navigation saved by this cutting will be four miles and threequarters as compared with 500 feet.

The number of days that work has been going on this month is eighteen-the day’s work being represented by 150 men working twelve hours, with the assistance of twenty carts, twelve two-horse wagons, and six four-horse plows. The enemy annoy the working parties by mortar and other firing, although their pickets are quiet and harmless. The signal tower on the James River at the Crow’s Nest, nearly opposite Dutch Gap, is now completed, being 126 feet high and capable of being made forty feet higher if required. This was constructed by Company D, First New York Volunteer Engineers, Captain Hartmann.

A wharf has been built on the Appomattox and one on the James River, together with several roads and other minor engineering details at different places.

I have as yet received no report of engineer operations on the Eighteenth Army Corps front (now the Tenth Army Corps), and can only say that it consists principally in erecting strong redoubts connected by strong curtains along the whole front.

Listening galleries have been run from the redoubt near the Hare house in anticipation of the enemy’s running in that direction. As yet, however, no indications have been seen.

Captain Francis U. Farquhar, U. S. Engineers, was relieved from duty in this department about the 22nd of August. Captain George L. Gillespie, U. S. Engineers, was appointed chef engineer for the Eighteenth Army Corps front at Petersburg,, by orders from the headquarters Army of the Potomac. First Lieutenant William R. King, U. S. Engineers, is on duty in this department at New Berne, N. C. First Lieutenant Charles B. Phillips, U. S. Engineers, became, sick and is now on leave of absence.

I have the honor to transmit also the following photographs and drawings, viz:*
Numbers 1. One photographic copy of Redoubt Anderson (Numbers 3), viewed from its front.

Numbers 2. One photographic copy of Redoubt McConihe (advanced in front of Numbers 3), viewed from the interior.

Numbers 3. One photograph of the excavation at Dutch Gap, August 20, nine and one-half days’ progress, viewed from the south side.+

Numbers 4. One photograph of same taken on September 5, twenty-three days’ progress, viewed from the same position.+

Numbers 5. One photograph of Parrott gun battery forming the right of the entrenchments for the protection of Dutch Gap.

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*To appear in the Atlas.

+Not found.

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Numbers 6. One map of Dutch Gap, showing survey of ground with contour lines.

Numbers 7. One map of Dutch Gap and entrenchments.

Numbers 8. One section of signal tower, with bill of lumber and material.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,

First Lieutenant, U. S. Engineers,

Acting Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.

Bvt. Major General J. G. BARNARD,

Chief Engineer, Armies in the Field, City Point, Va.
HDQRS. DEPT OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
CHIEF ENGINEER’S OFFICE,

September 18, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations of this department for the week ending September 17:

The excavation at Dutch Gap has progressed very well for the small number of men at work there during the week. The labor is a little more than half finished-a rough estimate. The enemy’s mortar batteries have been very active of late, and having moved to within 300 yards of the gap, have been more troublesome than ever. As far as cam be learned, there are four Coehorn mortars in position. The casualties on our side have been very few, considering the number of men and animals engaged. A part of my force has been engaged in repairing and putting in running order a saw-mill found in the woods. It will be ready for use in two weeks. A force of 200 infantry and fifteen engineers has been at work on the line of defenses on our front. A new line has been laid out, joining Numbers 3 and Numbers 5 batteries, as shown by the accompanying tracing.* By this arrangement Battery Numbers 4 will be isolated from the line of works and form a part of the advanced line of works. This shortens the infantry line of defense about 100 yards and is better adapted to the movement of the troops behind the lines. The work at Harrison’s Landing has progressed well. The main work, or redoubt, is now completed, its gorge closed with stockade, and the whole surrounded with abatis. From the right and left flanks an infantry parapet, four feet six inches high, runs half way to the river shore. The remainder will be completed within eight days, when a full description and plan of the works will be submitted.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,

First Lieutenant, U. S. Engineers,

Acting Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.

Byt. Major General J. G. BARNAR,

Chief Engineer, Armies in the Field.

I have the honor to transmit with this the tracings+ of Dutch Gap, which should accompany last month’s report, together with a section of the signal tower lately erected on the James River.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,

Lieutenant and Acting Chief Engineer.

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*Not found.

+See Michie’s report, September 10, 1864.

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HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
CHIEF ENGINEER’S OFFICE,

October 17, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to transmit herewith my reports for the weeks ending September 24, October 1, and October 8, together with tracings* of works at Harrison’s Landing and photographic copy* of the canvas pontoon bridge over the Appomattox at Broadway Landing. I have been unable to complete in time the tracing of the new line of defense referred to in my report, and also the line of works now occupied by the Army of the James, owing to my not being able to obtain sufficient and competent assistance. These tracings will be sent, however, with my next weekly report. I have not sent to you company of my monthly report for September, as it is simply a consolidation of the weekly reports made to you.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,

First Lieutenant, U. S. Engineers,

Acting Chief Engineers, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.

Byt. Major General J. G. BARNARD,

Chief Engineer, Armies in the Field, City Point, Va.

[Inclosure Numbers 1.]
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
ENGINEER’S OFFICE,

October 10, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations in this department for the week ending September 24, 1864, viz:

At Dutch Gap the work progressed slowly during the week owing to the continuous fire of the rebel mortar batteries on the low ground across the river. All our efforts to dislodge them have proved unavailing. Two or four men is all they require in a adeem pit to work their small 6-inch mortar, which are annoying and demoralizing to the men at labor on the canal. The difference of water level at the two ends of the proposed canal was found to be ten and one-tenth inches by means of the common Y level. A survey of the works at Harrison’s Landing, now completed, was made on the 20th, which is transmitted with this report. The main work on the line is completed and the labor lately has mostly been on the infantry parapet, extending to the river. The entire length of the line is 1,412 yards. The distance in a straight line from flank to flank 892 yards. On the 19th instant a canvas pontoon bridge was laid across the Appomattox River at Broadway Landing, requiring in all twenty-three boats, including the two used in the draw. The upper bridge, heretofore used, had been so constantly employed that it needed a thorough overhauling and repair. The pontoniers who laid the canvas bridge had no experience heretofore with these boats. The average time required to build the boats was seven minutes and a half. The first required twelve minutes and the last few three minutes each. The bridge was laid by sixty pontoniers, after the boats were build, in one hour and fifteen minutes, the abutments being previously prepared. I find that the tide rises variously on this river, sometimes being as high as four feet two inches. For heavy trains or much travel

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*To appear in the Atlas.

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this bridge soon becomes useless. Among items noticed during its use the following may be interesting. Unless the claw balks are lashed to the saddle-piece, they have a great tendency to slip up or down, according as the tide is flow or ebb. The canvas, without having holes punched in it, does not allow row-locks to be put in the gunwales, and it is difficult and tedious otherwise to operate the draw. The draw, too, is not stiff enough, owing to the play allowed by the claw balks. The dust of the manure covering requires to be constantly removed to prevent rotting the canvas. It is noticed that leakage follows quickly where any such matter remains a short time. The worst case of leakage reported was six inches in one night, and strange to say the same boat leaked none the following day. These boats are nineteen feet six inches long and are altogether too short. In some cases they come down to within four inches of the water when very heavy loads pass over them. They are also very liable to injury, owing to the many accidents which may occur by careless or mischievous soldiers, a single bayonet punch being sufficient to disable a boat.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,

First Lieutenant, U. S. Engineers,

Acting Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.

Byt. Major General J. G. BARNARD,

Chief Engineer, Armies in the Field.

[Inclosure Numbers 2.]
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
ENGINEER’S OFFICE,

October 10, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following as my report of engineering operations in this department for the week ending October 1, 1864, viz:

A tracing of a rebel map found on the body of General Chambliss was made from the original, which was lent to this office by Major Michler, chief engineer, Army of the Potomac, and seventeen copies (photographic) were made and distributed by direction of the major-general commanding this department.

Early in the week General Butler informed me of contemplated movements north of the James River, so that pontoon bridges should by ready at the proper time. The bridges at Deep Bottom, on the James River, and at Broadway, Appomattox River, were covered with manure on the 26th to deaden the sound of travel over them. On the 27th a survey was made of the banks of the James River in the vicinity of Aiken’s Landing, to determine the site for a new bridge to be used in the coming movement. An excellent location was found about 600 yards below Aiken’s house, there being good approaches on both sides. Generally, along the James River, while one side is good the opposite is marshy, and it is rarely that two points directly opposite can be found that will admit to be used for the abutments of a bridge unless first a long corduroy road is built on one side. The width of the river at the point designated is 1,320 feet, requiring sixty-seven boats for the construction of the bridge, including the two additional ones for the draw. The details of construction were intrusted to Captain James W. Lyon, chief pontonier, Army of the James, who has proved himself in every case a most reliable and skill-

ful officer. Thirty-six boats were brought by water from Broadway Landing and thirty-nine from Deep Bottom. One lieutenant and fifty men were each detailed from the company of pontoniers attached to the Army of the James, and from the command of Captain Lubey, Fifteenth New York Volunteer Engineers, at Deep Bottom, and these constituted the whole party engaged on the bridge. The success of the entire movement depending upon its secrecy quiet and good order was strictly enforced. The work was commenced at 7.30 p. m. and finished at 2 a. m. 29th of September. At this time it was dead low water, and the last nine boats had to be dragged over the soft mud and placed in position by hand. Had the tide been favorable the bridge would have been finished at 11 p. m. The infantry began coming at 3 a. m., one hour after its completion, and not till then did the enemy’s pickets have any idea of its existence. On the 29th the advance was made and at noon our troops were in possession of a part of the defenses at Chaffin’s farm. Toward noon the troops occupied the line indicated by General Barnard and Colonel Comstock, who were present during the day. On the 30th engineer troops and infantry were engaged in strengthening the line, changing the front of Fort Harrison (captured), laying abatis, and otherwise making the position strong. On the 1st October I was sent with General Terry, who made a demonstration on the Darby road toward Richmond, approaching with his advance to within 500 yards of the second line of works to the right of this road. The topography and other details of the rebel map heretofore referred to were found to be very accurate, except in one or two minor details, such as names of a few of the houses being changed, &c. The heavy rain and murky atmosphere prevented a close and satisfactory inspection of their works, but I feel convinced that their general character is the same as laid down in the map. We met no infantry outside of the works, and but very few of their cavalry.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,

First Lieutenant, U. S. Engineers,

Acting Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.

Brevet Major-General BARNARD,

Chief Engineer, Armies in the Field, City Point, Va.

[Inclosure Numbers 3.]
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
ENGINEER’S OFFICE,

October 10, 2864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations in this department for the week ending October 8, 1864, viz:

On October 2 a line of defense was determined on by General Barnard and Colonel Comstock, its right resting on Four-Mile Creek and its left on the marsh on the James River below Three-Mile Creek. On the 3rd General Butler detailed the One hundred and twenty-seventh Regiment U. S. Colored Troops to report to me for the construction of this line. Selecting Captains Eaton and Dalrymple, of the First New York Volunteer Engineers, I indicated and laid out the details of the whole line with a detached square redoubt on Signal Hill, to the right of the New Market road. At 11 a. m. the same day the parties commenced work, 150 men being occupied on the work at Signal Hill, and from 550 to 600 daily on the line itself, with two companies of the First

New York Volunteer Engineers. I have the honor to submit herewith a tracing* showing the details of the line. October 8. The work is well advanced. The infantry parapet is nearly two-thirds completed along the line, from 200 yards to the left of the Battery Numbers 7 to 100 yards to the right of the Kingsland road, near Four-Mile Creek-in all, more than 1,300 yards, exclusive of batteries. The revetment is of rails. Battery Numbers 1 was commenced to day. Battery Numbers 6 is completed for three guns. Battery Numbers 3 has three embrasures and the interior reverting finished, so that it is now ready for guns. Battery Numbers 4 is almost finished. The redoubt on Signal Hill has three faces completed, seven embrasures cut, seven platforms raise, and four guns in position. Abatis has been laid on two fronts, as well as on 150 yards of the main line to the rear. At Cox’s Hill 40 engineers and 400 infantry have been worked, under the direction of Captain Suess, First New York Volunteer Engineers, since October 5 on a redoubt to command the river above, and act also as a counter-battery to rebel works across the river. The work on the parapet and revetments will be finished by October 9. An outline+ of the redoubt will be sent with this report. At Dutch Gap engineers have been constructing bomb-proofs for the steam dredge at work there and the steam pump to be used. The excavation will progress rapidly hereafter by means of the dredge, which throws out about 400 cubic feet in twelve hours. The main line of works progresses in strength and protection daily. That portion occupied by the Tenth Army Corps is very weak and not well laid out. It is simply the old rebel line reversed. I have urged a new line, with appropriate works, to protect our right flank and make it secure, but an unwillingness has been manifested to have this carried out for the present. That occupied by the Eighteenth Army Corps, from the left of the Tenth to Cox’s Hill, on James River, is secure and in good condition. Fort Harrison has been very much strengthened and closed in rear (our front). Traverses have been erected to protect it from fire in every possible direction. Abatis has been planted around it and the old line destroyed. Redoubts and batteries have been erected along the line from this point to Cox’s Hill in the best possible positions to command the ground. Lieutenant W. R. King, U. S. Engineers, has been assigned as chief engineer of the Eighteenth Army Corps.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,

First Lieutenant, U. S. Engineers,

Acting Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.

Brevet Major-General BARNARD,

Chief Engineer, Armies in the Field, City Point, Va.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
CHIEF ENGINEER’S OFFICE,

October 30, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to transmit herewith my report of engineering operations in this department for the week ending October 15, 1864, with the following tracings,+ to wit:
Numbers 1. Tracing of Union defensive line in front of Eighteenth Army Corps from Fort Brady to Fort Burnham (Battery Harrison).

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*Not found.

+To appear in the Atlas.

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Numbers 2. Tracing of Union defensive line in front of Tenth Army Corps from Fort Burnham to right of New Market road.

Numbers 3. Tracing of new line of works at Deep Bottom.

Numbers 4. Tracing of square redoubt at Signal Hill.

Numbers 5. Photographic copy of 100-pounder battery in the defenses of Dutch Gap.

I have the honor to remain, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,

First Lieutenant, U. S. Engineers,

Acting Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.

Bvt. Major General J. G. BARNARD,

Chief Engineer, Combined Armies, City Point, Va.

[Inclosure.]
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
CHIEF ENGINEER’S OFFICE,

October 25, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following as my report of engineering operations in the Army of the James for the week ending October 15, 1864:

Lieutenant W. R. King, chief engineer, Eighteenth Army Corps, reports as follows for the Eighteenth Army Corps’ front:

A strong parapet with embrasures for field guns has been built across the gorge of Fort Harrison (now Burnham), and traverses have been thrown up to cover the interior of the same work. The right of the corps having been extended three-fourths of a mile, the parapet on this front has been strengthened. A large redan was built about 500 yards to the right of Fort Harrison, to sweep the space in front and to flank that portion of the line to the right. The left of the corps has been extended one mile, and now rests on the James River at Cox’s Hill. The whole length of front now occupied by the Eighteenth Army Corps is nearly three miles and a quarter. On the line running south from Fort Harrison, and at 800 yards apart, are three works now under construction, the first two being large redans for garrisons of from 200 to 250 men each, the third being a square redoubt connected by a strong breast-work with Fort Brady, on Cox’s Hill. A square redoubt has been nearly completed where the line of entrenchments crosses the Kirkland [Kingsland] road. Abatis and entanglements of wire have been placed in front of nearly the whole line and works. Two batteries for siege guns (A and B) have been thrown up in front of the line commanding the river, and a third is nearly completed. Labor has been expended in repairing and strengthening the breast-works already built, in leveling portions of the deserted rebel lines, and in slashing timber in range of our works.

On the 11th I withdrew Captain S. C. Eaton, First New York Volunteer Engineers, and his company from the line of works in front of Deep Bottom and placed him in charge of the new line of works on the Tenth Army Corps front, which I laid out on the day previous. Their plan is shown in the accompanying tracing. Work began on the 12th, at 7 a. m.-200 men were employed on the redoubt below Four-Mile Church Branch, on the right of the New Market road, and 1,200 men on the redoubts and entrenchments on the line.

On the 13th the works were nearly two-thirds completed and the rest of the work was performed by regiments completing that portion of the line on their front. Five hundred yards of abatis has been laid in front of the infantry parapet. The new line of works in charge of Captain H. M. Dalrymple, First New York Volunteer Engineers, progressed rapidly during the week. The average details has been 60 en-

gineers and 600 infantry daily. The length of the line is over 3,540 yards and extends from Four-Mile Creek to Aiken’s farm. The redoubt on Signal Hill has been under his charge also. (A tracing of the line is sent with this report.) Battery Numbers 1, on the right, a redoubt fifty yards to a side, has three faces completed and gorge commenced; embrasures are ready for eight guns. Battery Numbers 2, a lunette for four guns, is completed. Battery Numbers 3, and advanced work, commanding the low ground in front of Four-Mile Creek to the base of New Market Hills and the New Market road, is completed for six guns. Its gorge is open and commanded by Battery Numbers 4, a redan for five guns, also completed. Battery Numbers 5, a redan for three guns, is completed. Battery Numbers 6, a square redoubt (forty yards to a face), commanding Kingsland road before and after turning to the northward, is completed for eight guns. Battery Numbers 7, a redoubt with front of forty yards, was commenced on the 14th of October and will be finished in a few days. These works are all revetted with small pine timber, generally three inches in diameter, and the embrasures with hurdles. The infantry parapets connecting these works are as follows: Between Nos. 1 and 2 and Nos. 2 and 3 are completed. From Numbers 3 to the left of the line they are over two-thirds complete, needing only a little more labor to finish them. It was deemed best to have the batteries and redoubts finished first and the whole line in partial completion, so as to be ready for troops at any time. Abatis is being laid in front of the whole line as fast as it possibly can be done by a detail of sixty men. Woods to the right of Nos. 1, 2, and 3 have been slashed for a distance of 250 yards from them and will be continued to beyond the rifle-range. Sixty men is the daily detail for the slashing party. The redoubt on Signal Hill is completed. It has ten embrasures and a magazine eight by twelve by six feet, and the whole work is surrounded by heavy abatis. This work commands the hill completely and crosses its fire with the redoubt on the right of the Tenth Army Corps front, thus affording a safe protection to the right flank of this army.

Captain Suess, First New York Volunteer Engineers, has had charge of the details of work at Dutch Gap and Cox’s Hill and reports as follows, viz:

Fort Brady.-The parapet reverting and banquette were finished and scarp of the ditch trimmed. The magazine was framed and put up. A platform for 100-pounder Parrott gun was laid and a hoop-iron gabion embrasure made. Platforms and barbettes for four siege guns constructed and gabion embrasures made for each of them. An emplacement for a siege gun was made in the ditch for the purpose for firing at the enemy’s mortar batteries across the river opposite Dutch Gap. The gorge of the work was closed with stockade and timber prepared for a palisade gate for the gorge. Abatis was laid on all sides of the work. The rebel rifle-pits and old works were leveled and the ground cleared in the vicinity.

At Dutch Gap a bomb-proof for the steam pump was made and put up, covered with a layer of sand-bags and earth. A bomb-proof was made for the engine and boiler of the steam dredge and put up. Two hundred and fifty railroad ties were cut, prepared, and sent to the Gap. The details for all this work averaged 40 engineers and 250 infantry a day.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,

First Lieutenant, U. S. Engineers,

Acting Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.

Bvt. Major General J. G. BARNARD,

Chief Engineer, Combined Armies, City Point, Va.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
ENGINEER’S OFFICE,

October 31, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations in this department for the week ending October 22, 1864.

On the Eighteenth Army Corps front Lieutenant King, chief engineer, reports that the works having been put in good and defensible condition previous to October 15 but small fatigue parties have been engaged on them since. At Fort Burnham a magazine has been built; the traverses before referred to have been completed; sand-bag loop-holes for riflemen have been made along the whole parapet; abatis has been laid and strengthened, and the entrance to the fort has been lowered to afford a covered way for ammunition wagons to enter unexposed to the enemy’s fire. At Battery Numbers 1, completing parapet of right face, reverting embrasures, and making platforms. At Battery Numbers 2, completing parapet, closing gorge, throwing up banquette and platforms, and cutting embrasures. At Battery Numbers 3, completing abatis; Numbers 4, finished; Numbers 5, reverting embrasure and completing banquette and platforms; Numbers 6, reverting embrasure, strengthening parapet, and completingg magazine; Numbers 7, strengthening parapet. On the Tenth Army Corps front, Captain S. C. Eaton, First New York Volunteer Engineers, in charge, reports the redoubt on the right of New Market road, near Four-Mile Church, as completed and surrounded with abatis, and that the slashing of wood in its front is being continued. The redoubt at the Clyne house, where the line makes almost a rightangle, and the one on the main line to the left of the New Market road, are connected with a strong infantry parapet and are complete. A retired battery for two guns covers the New Market road. There is a strong abatis in front of these works ant the old line (rebel) formerly used is leveled. On the 20th a new redoubt on the left of the Tenth Army Corps front was commenced and about one-third of the work already finished.

Captain H. M. Dalrymple, First New York Volunteer Engineers, in charge of the works in front of Deep Bottom and the detached redoubts on Signal and Camp Holly Hills, reports the completion of this line except a few more days’ work on infantry parapet, abatis, and slashing along Four-Mile Creek. The redoubt on Signal Hill is now complete. There are twelve embrasures and four guns (Napoleons) in the work. Two lines of heavy abatis encircle it. The ditch has been deepened to six feet. A slashing has been made through the woods to the right, due east and west 4,000 feet long and 500 feet wide, to have signal communication with Camp Holly redoubt. This latter redoubt was laid out and commenced to day (22nd) with twelve engineers and three companies of infantry. Its interior area will be nearly 3,500 square yards. The details employed during the week average 55 engineers and 520 infantry.

Captain Suess, First New York Volunteer Engineers, in charge of engineering work at Cox’s Hill, reports that during the week the platform and gabion embrasure for a second 100-pounder Parrott gun was completed. barbettes for five field pieces were made on the rear faces. The magazine was completed and covered fifth feet of earth. The excavation for a large bomb-proof was made, being ninety feet long, twelve feet wide, and seven feet high, and the timbers prepared for it. Abatis is completed around the work. Slashing to a great extent within range of the guns has been carried on, drawing a little

of the enemy’s fire from the batteries at Bishop’s, but doing no damage. On the night of the 21st I laid out two advanced batteries (C and D) near the Kirkland house, on a hill that commanded the river well, and from which could be seen the three rebel iron-clads and four wooden gun-boats. Battery C was for live guns and D for two, both being half-sunken batteries. On the night of the — three 30-pounders and four 20-pounders, Ashby’s battery, all under command of Captain Pierce, First Connecticut Artillery, were placed in these batteries, with orders to concentrate all guns as soon as daylight would permit on the nearest wooden gun-boat and endeavor to disable her; then, when driven off, to concentrate on the nearest iron-clad. The orders were carried out to the letter and the firing proved excellent. From rebel papers we learn that one gun was disabled on the gun-boat Drewry, 2 men killed and 4 or 6 wounded, and the boat otherwise disabled. One of the iron-clads lost her smoke-stack, and another lost 6 men in killed and wounded by a shell exploding over the grating. All were very much demoralized and driven up the river, from which position they only venture down at night, returning at daylight. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE, First Lieut., U. S. Engineers, and Brevet Major, U. S. Army.

Bvt. Maj. Gen. J. G. Barnard,

Chief Engineer, Combined Armies, City Point, Va.

Hdqrs. Dept. Of Virginia And North Carolina,

Chief Engineer’s Office,

November 3, 1864.

General: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations in this department for the week ending October 29, 1864:

But little engineering work was done on the Eighteenth Army Corps front during this week, owing to its withdrawal from the lines on the evening of the 26th to make a demonstration on the Williamsburg road. Small garrisons were left in all the redoubts and batteries along the line. At Fort Burnham, abatis and magazine were completed, and all other batteries were entirely finished during the week, except some of the small details. The line on the Tenth Army Corps front is also completed, the redoubts, batteries, and parapets having been finished on the 28th. Embrasures have been put in on the rear faces of the redoubts to make them entirely self-defensible. Slashing has been continued on Four-Mile Church Branch and in the ravine in front of Signal Hill. A square redoubt of thirty yards front has been built to command the latter. It has two pieces of artillery and a garrison of 100 men. Slashing to a great extent to the left and right of the redoubt on Camp Holly has been carried on, so that the ground is perfectly impassable for troops of any kind between the works on Camp Holly and Signal Hill without passing under close range of one or other of the works. The redoubt on Camp Holly Hill has embrasures for twenty guns, and has for armament four 20-pounder Parrotts and two pieces of light battery. It has a magazine eight by twelve by six feet finished, and the work itself will be entirely completed in two days. At Fort Brady a large bomb-proof, with two splinter-proof entrances, was constructed and covered with six feet of earth. A strong palisade gate was framed

and is nearly ready to be hung. The embrasures of the advanced batteries commanding the river were repaired and strongly revetted with gabions.

At Dutch Gap a new dipper-handle for the dredge was made and mounted, the old one having broken. The hoisting gear of the dredge was also repaired. The machine is a very poor one, its framework being so rotten as to be unreliable for two consecutive day’s work.

The average number of men at work during the week at Fort Brady and repairs to Dutch Gap machinery was thirty-six engineers and eighty infantry daily.

A tracing of country about Camp Holly and Signal Hill will be transmitted soon to accompany this report.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE, First Lieut., U. S. Engineers, and Brevet Major,U. S. Army,

Acting Chief Engineer, Department.

Bvt. Maj. Gen. J. G. Barnard,

Chief Engineer, Combined Armies, City Point, Va.

Hdqrs. Dept. Of Virginia And North Carolina,

Chief Engineer’s Office,

November 11, 1864.

General: I have the honor to submit herewith the following report of engineering operations in this department for the week ending November 5, 1864:

The engineering work on the whole line occupied by the Tenth and Eighteenth Army Corps has been completed and but very little labor has been expended on small details, such as stockading, clearing ground in front, slashing, and abatis.

Redoubts on right flank.—Camp Holly redoubt is now complete, armed and garrisoned. A redoubt was commenced on the 1st of October on south side of New Market road and east of the Kingsland road, and between the forks of the Four-Mile Creek. Two hundred and seventy-five men have been employed in slashing in the vicinity of the redoubts during the week. A corduroy road was also commenced on the 1st October from Aiken’s Bridge to Varina road. The labor on Fort Brady was also completed this week, and several small matters attended to as soon as needed at Dutch Gap. A detail from my pontoon company was engaged building an ordnance wharf on James River below Aiken’s Bridge. The rest were on duty at pontoon bridges on James and Appomattox Rivers and at the saw-mills. The amount of lumber sawed during the week is 9,865 feet, principally for hospital buildings and platforms for guns.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,
First Lieutenant, U. S. Engineers, Brevet Major, U. S. Army,
Acting Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.

Bvt. Maj. Gen. J. G. Barnard,

Chief Engineer, Combined Armies, City Point, Va.

Hdqrs. Dept. Of Virginia And North Carolina,

Chief Engineer’s Office,

November 16,1864.

General: I have the honor to submit the following; as my report of engineering operations in this department for the week ending November 12, 1864:

On the 9th commenced corduroying supply roads leading to the Tenth Army Corps front with daily details of 300 men. A line of breast-works was thrown up on the night of the 9th along the high road bordering the Four-Mile Creek between the Kingsland and New Market roads, fronting eastward and terminating at the redoubt at the base of Signal Hill; 2,000 men were employed. This line will be the line of defense of the Eighteenth Corps reserves in case the enemy pass the redoubts on Camp Holly and to the right of the New Market road approaching down that road. A well has been made in the redoubt of Camp Holly, water being obtained at thirty-five feet depth. One has been commenced in the redoubt on Signal Hill and is now twenty-six feet deep. The redoubt in the forks of the Four-Mile Creek is well advanced, embrasures being ready for eleven guns; abatis surround it; an infantry parapet runs from its flank across the New Market road and up the New Market Hill, defended by an abatis in front. This prevents a cavalry dash down the road and past our redoubts. Considerable labor has been expended on a battery south of Four-Mile Creek to command the New Market road, in rear of Signal and Camp Holly Hills, and in slashing timber in Four-Mile Creek and ravines near it. The corduroy road across the ravine between Aiken’s Bridge and the high ground is progressing slowly. Teams are scarce and the timber has to be brought from a distance. At Dutch Gap a gallery has been run into the embankment at the west end a distance of forty feet; it is four by five feet high. It starts in at the left side twenty-live feet from the face of the embankment, and runs in twenty five feet on a slope of 1 on 4 and then turns to the right five feet. A shaft three feet in diameter is sunk here eleven feet, and from the bottom a gallery is run in eighteen feet parallel to the gallery above. At ten feet from the end a gallery is made to the left to the distance of ten feet, as shown in the accompanying plan and section. From rough computation there remains but 4,500 cubic yards to remove now, which is being taken out at the rate of 400 cubic yards per day. A railroad and some dump cars have been put in operation to aid in removing the dirt; one of the dumping boats, which was sunk, has been raised, repaired, and is again in use. Oh the Eighteenth Corps front wells have been sunk near the ditch of Fort Burnham to prevent mining by the enemy. The rear of other batteries have been stockaded; abatis has been strengthened along the lines. The saw-mills have been at work steadily all the week. The bridge at Aiken’s needs resheathing and will be attended to during the coming week.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICH IE,
First Lieutenant, U. S. Engineers, Brevet Major, U. S. Army,
Acting Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.

Bvt. Maj. Gen. J. G. Barnard,

Chief Engineer, Combined Armies, City Point, Va.

Hdqrs. Dept. Of Virginia And North Carolina,

Engineer’s Office,

November 30,1864.

General: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations Army of the James for the week ending November 19:

A detail of 300 men has been employed daily until Saturday constructing corduroy road from Tenth Army Corps front along New Market road toward Deep Bottom. Plank platforms have been made in the redoubts on the right flank. The redoubt near Four-Mile Creek is now completed, having embrasures for thirteen guns. It is revetted and constructed like those on Camp Holly and Signal Hills, and surrounded with abatis. The infantry parapet connecting this work with the crest of New Market Hill is nearly completed. The work on the new line in advance of the lunette (No. 2) is almost finished and will have sixteen embrasures. Slashings in front and flank of Camp Holly redoubt is being continued daily with a detail of seventy-five men. The corduroy road (twenty-eight feet wide) crossing the ravine beyond Aiken’s Landing is finished. All engineering work has been delayed by unfavorable weather. The excavation at Dutch Cap Canal has been prosecuted with but small details. Blasting has been tried with favorable results in the stiff blue clay, which forms the bed of the canal. The mine for the charge to blow out the main embankment has been sheathed with stout gallery frames. But little water has been met with until lately, when a small stream has been opened; it can be kept out, however, by buckets.

Very respectfullv, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,
Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Lieutenant, U. S. Engineers,
Acting Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.

Bvt. Maj. Gen. J. G. Barnard,

Chief Engineer, Combined Armies, Virginia.

Hdqrs. Dept. Of Virginia And North Carolina,

Engineer’s Office,

November 27, 1804.

General: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations for the week ending November 27,1864:

Four batteries designed for two 30-pounder guns each were laid out on the banks of the James River below the Dutch Gap Canal. Fifteen engineers and 150 men were employed two nights, and fifteen engineers and about sixty-five men for two days, in their construction during the week. Twenty-two engineers have been engaged for three days in making a new bomb-proof for a second dredge, the one formerly in use having been sunk by a mortar shell. A few engineers have also been engaged in repairing damages caused by rains at Fort Brady. Platforms of 2-inch plank have been laid in the redoubts on the right during the week. Slashing timber in their vicinity has occupied a detail of seventy-five men daily. Corduroying roads has been generally undertaken during the past week. Guard houses have been built at

the different pontoon bridges in the department. The gorges of Fort Burnham and of all other inclosed works, save two redoubts near Fort Brady, have been destroyed agreeable to your order.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MIC HIE, Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Lieutenant, U. S. Engineers,

Acting Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina.

Bvt. Maj. Gen. J. G. Barnard,

Chief Engineer, Combined Armies of Virginia.

Hdqrs. Dept. Of Virginia And North Carolina,

Chief Engineer’s Office,

December 5, 1864.

General: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations for the week ending December 3, 1864:

Repairs have been made to several portions of the main line which had partially given way under the influence of the late rains. The principal work during the week has been that of corduroying roads, and this work seems unending. The batteries for siege guns on the bank of the river below Dutch Gap are now finished, except having their embrasures cleared and platforms laid. The enemy’s pickets have delayed work a little by their lire. The position of these batteries is indicated on the tracing forwarded a few days ago, showing rebel and Union works on James River. At Fort Brady the engineers have been repairing the damage done by enemy’s shot and rains, and preparing a roadway and bridge across the ravine to its rear. At Dutch Gap the excavation has progressed very satisfactorily indeed. The pit where the men are at work will be entirely finished by Wednesday next, and if we meet with good success, the sunken dredge will be raised on Tuesday and finish its work by the time the top dirt of the main embankment is taken away. In the galleries in this embankment we have gone down to twenty live feet below high-water mark and started on the lower series of mines. There have been no casualties for fifteen days from the enemy’s fire. An ordnance wharf has been built on the James River by a detachment from my pontoon company, in addition to which it has furnished details to guard its bridge, attend saw-mills, repair pontoons, wagons, machinery of mills, and various other details.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,

Brevet Major, U. 8. Army, Acting Chief Engineer, Department.

Bvt. Maj. Geu. J. G. Barnard,

Chief Engineer, Combined Armies of Virginia.

Hdqrs. Dept. Of Virginia And North Carolina.

Engineer’s Office,

December 14, 1864.

General: I have the honor to transmit herewith a tracing* of the line of works asked for by you a short time ago. I have the honor to report also that during the past week no engineering work of any im-

—————

* Not found.

—————

portance was performed or commenced. Details were engaged on the siege batteries below Dutch Gap, covered way leading from Fort Brady, corduroy roads, &c.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,

Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer.

Bvt. Maj. Gen. J. G. Barnard,

Chief Engineer, Armies in Virginia.

Hdqrs. Dept. Of Virginia And North Carolina,

Engineer’s Office,

December 20,1864.

General: I have the honor to report that the engineering labor for the past week in this army has been of little importance, and consisted of corduroying roads, finishing batteries below Dutch Gap, working on covered way leading from Fort Brady, and laying few platforms. Besides this the usual progress was made in the mines and other work at Dutch Gap. Repairs are also in progress on the Bermuda front. I have the honor to recommend for promotion by brevet Major Lubey, Fifteenth New York Volunteer Engineers, who is on duty under me in command of the pontoon bridges at Deep Bottom and Aiken’s Lauding. He has been an efficient and reliable officer.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,

Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer.

Bvt. Maj. Gen. J. G. Barnard,

Chief Engineer, Combined Armies in Virginia.

Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLII, Part 1 (Serial Number 87), pages 657-673

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Taft Kiser May 13, 2012 at 10:14 am

Wonderful!

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