Number 176. Siege of Petersburg Reports of Bvt. Major Peter S. Michie, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer, Department of Virginia, of operations February 4-March 18

   

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No. 176. Reports of Bvt. Major Peter S. Michie, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer, Department of Virginia, of operations February 4-March 18.1

HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA, CHIEF ENGINEER’S OFFICE,
February 13, 1865.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineer operations in the Army of the James for the week ending February 11, 1865:

At Fort Burnham, casemates have been constructed, the parapet strengthened, the trench widened, and chevaux-de-frise, wire entanglements, &c., added to the obstructions. On the flanks of the fort works have been commenced for two guns each, that on the right in embrasure, and on the left en barbette. The parapet of Battery No. 1 has been strengthened, embrasures repaired, platforms made good, and traverses thrown up. In Fort Brady one of the 100-pounders has been mounted in its new position and the work in strengthening the fort generally proceeded with. The new battery below Fort Brady is sufficiently advanced to receive one of the 100-pounders; its magazine is nearly completed. The gateway and draw-bridge of Redoubt Southard is progressing favorably. The proposed work between Redoubts Southard and Brooks has been staked out, and will be at once proceeded with. Some small repairs to other parts of the line have been done by parties furnished by the regiments manning such portions of the works. I have the honor to report also that the detachment of the company of pontoniers who have been on duty at the saw-mills have been replaced by infantry, and the whole company are at work repairing and putting in order the pontoon trains of this army . In this connection, it will be proper to call attention to the fact that the material used in the construction of the pontoon and chess wagons has been of the poorest kind. The oak used for poles and reaches is old and in some cases was dead wood and broke clean across, showing a fracture indicating very little strength. Almost all the wagons show great shrinkage in the parts that are rejoined together,some joints opening as much as three-quarters of an inch. Owing to these defects, each wagon is carefully examined and repaired, so that it is better able to do good service than when new.

I cannot speak too highly of this company (Company I, Third Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, formerly Thirteenth Company Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, unattached), commanded by Captain Pickering. It is composed of men enlisted from Springfield Armory, many of whom are the best kind of mechanics. They have kept the pontoon trains of this army up to the best standard, so that after their long-continued service our trains, are now, or soon will be, as fit for service as if they were entirely new, and this without additional expense to the Government. Owing to the facilities we have here at present I have the honor to propose that we furnish the Engineer Department at Washington with such oak lumber, of the best quality, cut to any size, that may be required. There are a great many white-oak trees here which might as well be used for this purpose as not. This will only cost the Government transportation, and will save the $70 or $80 a thousand feet, which is about the price at present, buying from the market.

I also transmit herewith a suggestion of Captain Lyon, assistant engineer, in the improvements of a part of the pontoon wagon. It is the substitution of a roller for the sharp-edged stanchion on the rear

sides of the wagon. At present it is difficult to load the boat from the rear by pushing it forward, because the stanchions will cut into the sides of the boat and resist its advance unless the boat is exactly straight. Two rollers assist its loading very much. The present stanchion might be hammered down and a cast-iron roller slipped on it as an axle and confined by a common nut.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,
Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia.

Bvt. Major General J. G. BARNARD,
Chief Engineer, U. S. Army.

HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA, CHIEF ENGINEER’S OFFICE,
February 21, 1865.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations in the Army of the James for the week ending February 18, 1865:

At Fort Burnham two casemates have been finished and two are in course of construction. One magazine between casemates is completed. The thickening of parapet and deepening of trench is being proceeded with, and a parapet on gorge is being constructed. The chevaux-defrise and entanglements are also finished. The batteries on the flanks of the fort are completed and ready for guns. The Coehorn mortars are in position and the magazine for them is ready for use. The parapet between Fort Burnham and Battery No. 1 is being repaired. The magazine in Battery No. 3 is nearly completed and the abatis made good. The magazine No. 5, is in course of construction. The work upon Fort Brady consisted is thickening the front parapet, strengthening the magazine, connecting the latter and the bomb-proof, and laying the platform of one of the 100-pounders. There are two 100-pounders now in position behind the thickened parapet. The sunken battery below Fort Brady is ready for two 100-pounders and one 30-pounder, and is nearly completed. The work between the Redoubts Brooks and Southard is progressing favorably. The gateway and draw-bridge at Redoubt Southard is nearly completed.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,
Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer, Dept. of Virginia.

Bvt. Major J. G. BARNARD,
Chief Engineer Combined Armies.

HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA, CHIEF ENGINEER’S OFFICE,
February 27, 1865.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations in the Army of the James for the week ending February 25, 1865:

In the Twenty-fifth Army Corps.-At Fort Burnham the third casemate is completed, the thickening of parapet, widening of trench, and construction of parapet on gorge line is being continued. In Batteries Nos.1,3 and 4, magazines have been constructed and are nearly completed.

In Battery No. 2 the magazine is finished. At Fort Brady the thickening of the parapet and magazine covering is nearly finished. Sunken battery below Fort Brady requires but a few hours’ work to complete it. Repairs of abatis, &c., has been made on the line generally.

In the Twenty-fourth Corps.-The lunette and infantry parapets between Redoubts Southard and Brooks have been proceeded with and are nearly completed.

On the Bermuda front.-Battery Sawyer: The parapet has been strengthened and the ditch drained. New Battery near Battery Sawyer: The covering of magazine and bomb-proof is finished. Battery Spofford: A covered drain has been made and the revetment repaired. Redoubt Drake: The revetment and platform have been repaired. Battery Marshall: The terre-plein been graded and the parapet on the left flank raised: three magazines in rear of the ten-gun battery have been drained, rivetted, and re-covered. The parapet and banquette between Batteries Pruyn and Anderson are being raised. Battery Pruyn: The parapet has been strengthened, embrasures repaired, and platforms laid. Redoubt Dutton: The embrasures have been repaired and platforms are being laid.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

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

Bvt. Major General J. G. BARNARD,
Chief Engineer Combined Armies in Virginia.

HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA, CHIEF ENGINEER’S OFFICE,
March 9, 1865.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations for the week ending March 4, 1865:

The work done, in consequence of unfavorable weather, has been of little importance, consisting chiefly of (in the Twenty-fifth Corps) continuing the construction of casemates in Fort Burnham, completing magazines in the redoubts along the line to Fort Brady, and repairs to rifle-pits and abatis. On the Bermuda front: Repairing platforms, and draining in Battery Sawyer’ strengthening the bomb-proof and magazine in Battery Parsons; repairing embrasure and laying platforms in Redoubt Drake; thickening and rivetting parapet and forming banquette between Batteries Anderson and Pruyn; repairing embrasure and laying platform in Battery Pruyn, and some small repairs in Redoubt Dutton.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,
Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer Dept. of Virginia.

Bvt. Major General J. G. BARNARD,
Chief Engineer Combined Armies in Virginia.

DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA, CHIEF ENGINEER’S OFFICE,
March 14, 1865.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report for the week ending March 11, 1865:

In the Twenty-fifth Corps.-At Fort Burnham the scarp rivetting damaged by the recent heavy rains has been repaired and the trench

drained; the magazines on the line, seven in number, are all completed and ready for use; general repairs to rifle-pits and abatis have been done on the whole line. At Fort Brady a portion of the bank in front of the embrasures (about 1,500 yards, cubic) has been removed and the work on magazine and platforms has been proceeded with.

On the Bermuda front.-The repairs on Redoubt Dutton are completed; palisades for the gorge of Battery Marshall have been cut and the magazine in that battery rebuilt; the new battery near Battery Parsons is progressing rapidly.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

PETER S. MICHIE,
Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer Army of the James.

Bvt. Major General J. G. BARNARD,
Chief Engineer Combined Armies in Virginia.

DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA, ENGINEER’S OFFICE,
March 23, 1865.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations for the week ending March 18, 1865:

In the Twenty-fifth Corps.-At Fort Burnham four casemates are completed, and the scarp revetment in front of casemates is nearly rebuilt; the repairs to rifle-pits and abatis from the right to Battery No. 5 is completed. At Fort Brady the work to the bank in front of embrasures is finished and the magazine has been drained. Sunken water battery: The fraise around this battery is completed and the bomb-proof has been strengthened.

On the Bermuda front.-Labor has been expended principally on the new 100-pounder batteries near Batteries Spofford and Parsons, and they are nearly completed. Repairs have been made at Batteries Sawyer, Abbott, Parsons, and Drake, and a stockade is being put up in rear of Battery Marshall.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

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

Bvt. Major General J. G. BARNARD,
Chief Engineer Combined Armies of Virginia.

Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XLVI, Part 1 (Serial Number 95), pp. 373-376

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