Number 9. Reports of Major General C. Duane, Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, of operations November 13-December 31

   

0 comments

in Part 1 (Serial Number 87)

Numbers 9. Reports of Major General C. Duane, Corps of Engineers, U. S. Army, of operations November 13-December 31.1

HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, ENGINEER DEPT.,
November 20, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the engineering operations in this army for the week ending November 19, 1864:

Captain Harwood was in command of the Battalion of U. S. Engineers. The mining gallery at Fort Stedman, with its lateral branches, was completed on the 18th instant, under the direction of Lieutenant Benyaurd, U. S. Engineers. This officer had also charge of constructing an infantry breast-work between Batteries Nos. 13 and 14, which will be completed, weather permitting, on the 22nd instant. The construction of Fort Conahey has been completed under the immediate direction of Lieutenant Howell; and Lieutenant Phillips, assisted by Lieutenant Benyaurd, made a thorough inspection of the line from Battery Numbers 13 to Fort Stedman.

The following extracts from the weekly report of Lieutenant-Colonel Spaulding, commanding detachment Fiftieth New York Volunteer Engineers, will show the nature and extent of the work performed by the officers and troops of his command:

At the date of my last report, Lieutenant Taylor with one company of this command had completed 130 feet of countermining in front of Fort McGilvery. On Sunday 10 feet additional gallery was driven, making 140 feet in all, and this was deemed sufficient. On the 14th Lieutenant Cameroon, with one company of this command, was sent to build a magazine in the fort in rear of the line near the Avery house and also in the fort near the Friend house. These magazines were completed last evening, except the doors. This morning the doors were hung, locks and staples placed on them, and the keys handed over to the officers commanding the respective forts. The fraise and abatis around Fort Haskell were completed by Lieutenant Van Rensselaer on the night of the 13th, working two companies of this command. On the nights of the 12th and 13th the abatis was examined and thoroughly repaired in front of the rifle-pits from Battery 13 to Fort Stedman. Lieutenant Van Rensselaer reports that on each side of Batteries 11 and 12 portions of the abatis had been removed, evidently had been taken away by the pickets for fire-wood. On Tuesday afternoon Lieutenant Dudley was sent with his company to repair and extend the corduroy roads in the covered ways in the rear of and in the vicinity of Fort Sedgwick. With the aid of teams from the Second Corps, Lieutenant Dudley laid and repaired about 460 yards of corduroy road in these covered ways and completed the work on Thursday afternoon. On the 16th I sent Lieutenant Kenyon with one company of this command to place a wire entanglement in front of the works from Fort Fisher to Fort Welch, to take the place of slashing removed by the troops. This entanglement was commenced on the right of Fort Fisher, and extended along the whole front, to a point about 200 yards to the left of Fort Welch, and was completed on the afternoon of the 17th instant. Captain Van Brocklin reports the condition of Fort Stevenson as follows: “Ready for nine barbette and twenty-two embrasure guns, 850 feet of infantry banquette complete, and the abatis built on the front and right flank. All the essential parts of the work will be complete by the night of the 20th (if the work is continued on Sunday), unless it may be a portion of the abatis.

In the topographical department, the map of the country west of the Weldon railroad is still in course of construction. Additional surveys of that portion of the country were made during the last week and plotted, which are to be added to this map. A map showing the lines occupied by the U. S. forces in the neighborhood of the Wilderness Tavern Scale, four inches to the mile), is also progressing rapidly.

Additional sections of the copy of photograph map captured from the enemy are being copied, and plans of all the works constructed are in course of preparation.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. C. DUANE,

Major of Engineers, U. S. Army.

Major General J. G. BARNARD,

Chief Engineer Armies operating against Richmond.

Headquarters Armies of the United States, City Point, Va.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
OFFICE OF CHIEF ENGINEER,

November 27, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the engineering operations in this army for the week ending November 25, 1864:

Captain Harwood, in command of the Battalion of U. S. Engineers, assisted by Lieutenant Phillips, made an inspection of the line from Fort Bross to Fort Dushane. Lieutenant Benyaurd, assisted by Lieutenant Benyaurd, assisted by Lieutenant Heap and Phillips, made an inspection from Fort McGilvery to Fort Howard, and Lieutenant Howell, assisted by Lieutenant Lydecker, made an examination and inspection from Fort Howard to Fort Dushane. Captain Paine, aide-de-camp, was engaged in obtaining information in relation to the enemy’s works.

The following extracts from the weekly report of Lieutenant-Colonel Spaulding, commanding detachment Fiftieth New York Volunteer Engineers, will show the nature and extent of the work performed by the officers and men of his command:

The rain-storm which set in on the evening of the 18th prevented any work being done on Fort Stevenson from that date until the morning of the 23rd instant. Since the latter date the parapets have been completed and the work nearly inclosed by a strong abatis. The abatis will be completed to-morrow, some additional infantry banquette built, and the whole work finished and ready to turn over to the garrison on the 27th instant. On the afternoon of the 18th I ordered up all the pontoon bridge trains in my charge, they being at that time in park near City Point. They were started from camp about 9 p.m., and though the night was very dark and several wagons were broken, causing more or less detention, all the trains were securely parked before daylight the next morning near Fort Stevenson, where they still remain.

In the topographical department, the map of the country west of the Weldon railroad (scale, eight inches to the mile) is still in course of construction. Maps of the battle-fields at Spotsylvania Court-House and Cold Harbor (scale, four inches to the mile) are being projected, and copy of additional section of “Photograph map captured from the enemy, showing country adjacent to Richmond and lines of defensive works, &c.,” is nearly completed. Tracings and drawings of portions of pontoon bridges were also being made during the week, as well as tracings of maps, &c., with the view of being photographed.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. C. DUANE,

Major of Engineers, U. S. Army.

Major General J. G. BARNARD,

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

HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, ENGINEER DEPT.,
December 3, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the engineering operations in this army for the week ending to-day:

Captain Harwood was in command of the Battalion of U. S. Engineers, and, assisted by Lieutenant D. P. Heap, inspected the line from Fort Bross to Fort Davison. The latter officer also assisted Lieutenant Howell on a reconnaissance with the cavalry division commanded by General Gregg. Lieutenant W. H. H. Benyaurd had charge of the repairs at Fort Stedman. These repairs will be finished on the 5th instant. Lieutenant C. W. Howell inspected the line from Fort Howard to Fort Dushane, and was on a reconnaissance with the cavalry division. Lieutenants Phillips and Lydecker were also on a reconnaissance with cavalry division. Colonel Spaulding, commanding detachment Fiftieth New York Volunteer Engineers, with the officers of his command, was engaged in superintending the overhauling and repairing of the pontoon trains and the putting up of stables for the public animals.

In the topographical department, the maps of the battle-fields at Spotsylvania Court-House and Cold Harbor are being constructed, and an additional section of the map captured from the enemy is being copied. The information obtained by the assistants who accompanied the cavalry division on the late reconnaissances has been added to the one-inch map, a copy of which is respectfully forwarded.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. C. DUANE,

Major of Engineers, U. S. Army.

Major General J. G. BARNARD,

Chief Engr. Armies operating against Richmond, City Point, Va.
HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, ENGINEER DEPT.,
December 12, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the engineering operations in this army for the week ending on the 10th instant:

Captain Harwood was in command of the Battalion of U. S. Engineers, and, assisted by Lieutenants Howell and Phillips, examined and inspected the line from Fort Wadsworth to Fort Dushane. On the 9th instant, in compliance with the orders of the commanding general, Captain Harwood marched the battalion of engineer troops on the Vaughan road and joined the Second Corps troops as infantry. Lieutenant Benyaurd had charge of repairs at Fort Stedman until ordered on a reconnaissance with the Fifth Corps. Lieutenant Howell had charge of the building of a magazine at Battery 26, and, in addition to the assistance rendered Captain Harwood in the inspection already referred to, was with the battalion with Second Corps. Lieutenant Lydecker inspected the line from Fort Howard to Fort Rice, and was with the battalion when it joined the Second Corps troops. Lieutenant Heap was on a reconnaissance with the Fifth Corps. Colonel Spaulding, commanding detachment Fiftieth New York Volunteer Engineers, is absent on an expedition, and made no report of the operations of his command for the last week.

In the topographical department, the assistance were engaged in delineating the several routes by which the army marched during the

late campaign, and constructing maps of the battle-fields of Spotsylvania Court-House and Cold Harbor. The information on the reconnaissance of the 26th of October is also being added to the eight-inch map west of the Weldon railroad, and the copying of the last section of the photograph map captured from the enemy is nearly finished.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. C. DUANE,

Major of Engineers, Brevet Colonel, U. S. Army.

Major General J. G. BARNARD,

Chief Engr. Armies operating against Richmond, City Point, Va.
HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, ENGINEER DEPT.,
December 20, 1864.

SIR: Since the date of my last report of the 12th instant I have the honor to report the following engineering operations of this army for the week ending December 17, 1864:

Brevet Major Harwood was in command of the Battalion of U. S. Engineers. Brevet Captain Benyaurd and Lieutenant Howell returned from reconnaissance with Fifth Army Corps; Brevet Captain Howell inspected the line from Fort Howard to Fort Sedgwick; Lieutenant Lydecker inspected the line from Fort Howard to Fort Dushane, and Lieutenant Phillips examined and inspected the line from Fort McGilvery to Fort Howard. The following extracts from the report of Colonel Spaulding will show the nature and extent of the engineering duties performed by his command from the date of his last report to me of November 25, 1864:

At the date of my last report all the field pontoon trains of the army were in park near Fort Stevenson, to which point they were moved on the night of the 18th of November. During the week ending December 2 nearly all the men in my command were engaged in clearing ground near my present camp for parking pontoon trains and corralling the animals. About forty acres of ground were cleared, corrals built and fenced in for over 2,000 animals, and gateway and gates put in at the entrances of the several corrals. On the 1st of December all the pontoon trains were moved to the ground prepared for them and the animals placed in the new corrals. In compliance with your orders, I sent on the morning of the 4th instant, a detail of one sergeant, two corporals, and twenty men, to report to Captain Davis, signal officer at Fifth Corps headquarters, for the purpose of constructing a signal tower. Captain Davis returned the men with a message that he was not yet prepared to commence the work. He called on me on the 5th and requested that I would furnish an officer to superintend the construction of the tower. I replied that with your approval I would furnish an officer and men to build the tower, provided I could control the design, but I was not willing one of my officers should be held responsible for a work put up at haphazard, which might or might not be successful. After Captain Davis had seen you on the subject it was arranged that I should do as I proposed, he undertaking to furnish all the material. I accordingly detailed Captain Hine with his company to build the tower and furnished him with the plan. Up to this time, owing to the late movement of the several corps, but little has been done toward furnishing material. Colonel Fisher, signal officer, who now has charge of delivering the material, undertakes to furnish it as speedily as practicable, so that the work will be probably commenced in a few days.

On the morning of the 5th I sent Captain Folwell with two companies to repair the works in front of the Ninth Corps, on the right of the Norfolk railway, and on the morning of the 6th I sent a detail of two more companies, Captain Dexter commanding, to repair the works on the left of the Norfolk railway. Captain Folwell reports that during the night of the 5th and day and night of the 6th the revetments, damaged scarps, and damaged abatis were repaired at all points from Fort McGilvery to the Norfolk railway. Two new doors were also placed on the magazines at Fort Morton.

On the morning of the 7th I sent directions to Captain Folwell to investigate the matter of suspected mining by the enemy in front of Fort Stedman. He spent one hour and twenty minutes in the listening gallery and heard and noises which might easily be imagined to proceed from miners at work. These observations he reported to Major-General Parke, and by his direction to the chief engineer. Captain Dexter reports that up to noon of the 7th the revetment of the breast-work on the left of Battery 21 and the repairs on the breast-work between Battery 20 and Fort Rice were all completed; also about two-thirds of the requisite quantity of material delivered for reverting the second line from Fort Meikel to the Norfolk railway. About noon on the 7th I sent orders for all these officers to return to camp with their commands, except Lieutenant Tuttle and twenty-five men to prosecute investigations in regard to suspecting mining, and in obedience to orders from Major-General Meade I reported to Colonel Tippin, commanding headquarters troops. During the afternoon of the same day all the pontoon trains in the field, except a train of twenty canvas boats and the train of twelve canvas boats absent with Brevet Major Van Brocklin, were, by order of Major-General Meade, returned within the defenses of City Point.

On the morning of the 9th, by your orders, I sent Brevet Major Folwell, with three companies, to stockade the gorges of all the works in front of the Sixth Corps, from Battery 24 to Fort Keene, and Brevet Major McDonald, also with three companies, to do the same in front of the Second Corps from Fort Urmston to Fort Siebert. About 2 p.m., and when the work above mentioned was but partially done, I received your orders to withdraw all my men from these works, except one non-commissioned officer at each point, to direct the details from the garrisons as to the manner of doing the work, and to report to Colonel Tippin. Before my men had reached camp I learned that Colonel Tippin had marched with his command toward Hatcher’s Run, and I sent an officer to report to him. He sent me word that he had no orders for me, and requested that I should report to Major-General Humphreys, which I did. General Humphreys had no orders for me, and my men remained in camp during the night. About 3 p.m. on the 10th, I received orders from you to march my whole command and a bridge train with the reserves of the Ninth Corps to the assistance of General Warren, and to report to General Potter. I should have mentioned before that on the evening of the 6th I sent Brevet Major Van Brocklin with a bridge train and a detachment of about 300 men of my command to report to General Warren and accompany his expedition. I moved my command out of camp at 4 p.m., marched to the Jerusalem plank road, reported to General Potter on the way, and was, and was assigned a position in his column. The troops were marched all night, and at 5 o’clock the next morning we bivouacked near Freeman’s Bridge, on the Nottoway River.

About 11 a.m. the head of General Warren’s column reached the river on the south side, and Major Van Brocklin commenced throwing his bridge. General Potter sent me an order to report for duty to General Warren, and the latter directed that I should throw another bridge from the north side as speedily as possible. Brevet Major Folwell immediately moved his train to the river and commenced the construction of his bridge. Major Van Brocklin’s bridge, consisting of eight boats in short spans of sixteen feet, was completed in one hour and three minutes, some delay having been caused by cutting down the north approach. Length of bridge, 150 feet. Major Folwell’s bridge, consisting of seven boats in long spans of twenty feet, was completed in about thirty-five minutes. Length of bridge, 160 feet. As soon as the first bridge was completed the troops commenced crossing and continued to do so in compact order until the rear guard crossed about 5 p.m. During the afternoon Major Van Brocklin moved all his wagons and surplus materials to the north side to be ready for loading when his bridge should be dismantled. At 4 p.m. General Warren gave permission to remove one of the bridges, and I directed Major Folwell to remove his. In the space of thirty-five minutes this bridge was dismantled and loaded and the train moved off to the high ground. At 5.30 p.m. General Warren informed me that his troops had all crossed and the remaining bridge could be moved. I immediately sent Lieutenant Morrison with twenty men across the river to deploy as skirmishers to prevent the enemy’s sharpshooters approaching the river in the dark before the bridge was removed; deployed a large force from my own command along the north bank, and the removal of the bridge commenced. The night was quite dark, but in about an hour the bridge was dismantled and loaded. Our skirmishers were withdrawn by the last boat, and the train was moved to the high ground near the Jerusalem plank road. Here the teams were unharnessed and fed and the men lay down to get to get a few hours’ rest. At 3 o’clock on the morning of the 12th I started on my return with my command and trains; passed all General Warren’s command before they had moved out on the road, and having the way clear, we reached our old camp at 12.30 p.m. The men suffered somewhat from wet and cold feet during the night of the 10th, the mud and snow rendering it very hard marching and the night of the 11th, the cold was very severe. Brevet Majors Van Brocklin and Folwell speak highly of the manner in which their officers and men performed their duties as pontoniers, and

the rapidity with which their bridges were built is an evidence that their commendations were well deserved. Major Folwell mentions specially Lieutenant Owens, Sergeants Newell and Surdam as deserving favorable notice.

The following is Brevet Major Van Brocklin’s report of his operations from the time he left my camp on the evening of the 6th until he rejoined me at the Nottoway River, near Freeman’s, on the 11th instant: “I left camp with my detachment and pontoon train at 6.30 p.m. on the 6th and marched to the Jerusalem plank road, reporting to Major-General Warren on the way. Here I bivouacked until 7 o’clock the next morning, when the march resumed in a southerly direction, following the Jerusalem plank road. At the crossing of Warwick Swamp the bridge had been destroyed. A temporary crossing was made on the side of the road over which the infantry crossed, while Company C, being in advance of the train, built a bridge across the stream and covered it with cheeses. About one hour and three-quarters were occupied in constructing this bridge, when the train was again moved forward. By direction of General Warren I left Company G at this place to construct a corduroy road across the swamp on the side of the main road, with instructions to join the detachment again when the rear of the column had passed. The pontoon train arrived at Freeman’s Bridge on the Nottoway River at 3.30 p.m. I immediately began to lay down the bridge with my company. It consisted of eight boats, the bays being sixteen feet and a half each. The bridge was constructed in one hour and ten minutes. A delay of perhaps fifteen minutes occurred in preparing the northerly approach. The descent to the bridge from this side was abrupt and caused considerable delay and confusion in crossing the supply train, which crossed during the night. Two army wagons and teams went into the river while this train was crossing-one through gross carelessness of the driver, the other I attributed to the awkwardness of the team and darkness. The bridge received but little damage, although in one case the team fell into the end of one of the boats. A few broken balks and cheeses and a hole through the canvas were the only damages. The bridge was taken up on the southerly side of the river on the morning of the 8th and the train started in the direction of Sussex Court-House at 7.30 a.m. The march was continued during the day, and camped at night on the Halifax road, about four miles north of Jarratt’s Station. December 9, the trains started again at 3 a.m. in a southerly direction along the line of the Weldon railroad, and halted about two miles and a half north of Three Creeks at about 3 p.m. A section of the train was moved down to the creek, and a bridge laid across it. It consisted of two boats, the center span being fifteen feet and a half. This bridge was taken up December 10 and started on the return march at 7 a.m.; camped for the night near Sussex Court-House, and moved the following morning at 7 to the Nottoway River at the former crossing and laid down a bridge in the same place as before, occupying one hour and three minutes. Here the detachment joined the main body of the regiment under your command.”

Brevet Major Van Brocklin was complimented in general orders by the major-general commanding the Fifth Corps for his skill and promptness in managing the pontoon trains during the expedition.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. C. DUANE,

Major of Engineer Armies in the Field, City Point, Va.
HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, ENGINEER DEPT.,
December 26, 1864.

SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the engineering operations of this army for the week ending on the 24th instant:

Brevet Major Harwood was in command of the Battalion of U. S. Engineers up to the 23rd instant, and having obtained leave of absence on that date, Brevet Captain Benyaurd assumed command. The latter officer inspected the magazines at Fort Sedgwick with a view to repairs. Brevet Captain Howell, assisted by Lieutenant Lydecker, inspected the line from Fort Welch to Fort Fisher, and from Fort Howard to

Fort Dushane. Lieutenant Heap inspected the line from Fort McGilvery to Fort Howard. The following extracts from the report of Brevet Colonel Spaulding, commanding detachment Fiftieth New York Volunteer Engineers, will show the engineering duty performed by his command for the last week:

The stockading of the gorges of the works on the Second and Sixth Corps lines, which was suspended at the time of the late move south of the Nottoway River, was resumed on the 20th instant, Brevet Major Folwell having charge of the works on the Sixth Corps line and Brevet McDonald of those on the Second Corps line. Major Folwell reports the work on the stockade at Fort Keene completed, and that the stockade at Batteries 24, 25 and 26 will be completed to-morrow. This work has been done by details of about twenty-five infantry from the Sixth Corps, and a sergeant of this regiment at each fort and battery. Major McDonald reports that the stockades at Forts Fishers, Welch, Gregg, Cummings, and Siebert are a little more than half done. He further states that the details on these works from the Second Corps affected so much ignorance of the use of tools and showed such a want of interest in the work, as induced him to dismiss these details and replace them by his own men. These stockades will probably be completed on Wednesday next. The signal tower near Fort Fisher was commenced by Brevet Major Hine on the 20th instant with one company of this command. This tower is designed to be 140 feet in height from the top of the sill to the upper platform, with a railing rising four feet above the platform. It will be forty-two and one half feet square at the top of the sill, and thirteen and one half feet square at the upper platform. It has been found advisable to have the timber got out by our own men. Thus far about one-sixth of the timber has been got out and hauled to the position selected. The framing has been commenced, and blacksmiths are at work upon the bolts required.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. C. DUANE,

Major of Engineers, Brevet Colonel, U. S. Army.

Bvt. Major General J. G. BARNARD,

Chief Engineer Armies in the Field, City Point, Va.
HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, ENGINEER DEPT.,
January 3, 1865.

GENERAL: Since the date of my report of the 26th ultimo, the following will exhibit the nature and extent of the engineering operations in this army performed by the officers and men of the engineer battalion and brigade for the week ending December 31, 1864:

Brevet Captain Benyaurd was in command of the Engineer Battalion until the 28th ultimo, and having obtained leave of absence on that date he turned over command to Brevet Captain Howell. This officer also had charge of the completion of the line from Fort Keene to Fort Urmston. Lieutenant Phillips inspected the line on First Division, Ninth Corps, front. The following extracts from the weekly report of Brevet Colonel Spaulding, commanding detachment Fiftieth New York Volunteer Engineers, are made:

The stockades at Batteries 24, 25 and 26, in charge of Brevet Major Folwell, were completed on the 24th by details from the Sixth Corps, superintended by sergeants of engineers. The stockades in Forts Fisher, Welch, Gregg, Cummings, and Siebert, in charge of Brevet Major McDonald, were completed on Wednesday, 28th, the work since last weekly report having been done by details from this command. On the 26th, 27th, 28th, and 29th Lieutenant Bacon, with four non-commissioned officers from this command and a detail of 200 men from the Sixth Corps, thoroughly repaired the corduroy road from general headquarters to the Jones house, putting in additional siding, and covering the whole with earth to an average depth of three inches. The work upon the signal tower has progressed during the week as rapidly as the state of the weather would permit. Brevet Major Hine reports that fully one-half the timber required is now one the ground, and that the carpenters’ and blacksmiths’ work upon the first section of sixty-eight feet is one-half done. The difficulty of

finding and hauling timber so long as a large portion of the first section is required to be, has occupied more time than will be required to get the remainder, which is smaller and shorter lengths.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. C. DUANE,

Major of Engineers, Brevet Colonel, U. S. Army.

Major General J. G. BARNARD,

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

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 179-186

***



What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: