Today in History:

24 Series I Volume V- Serial 5 - West Virginia

Page 24 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.

with great gallantry and devotion; they were ever ready to execute any service, no matter how dangerous, difficult, or fatiguing.


The highly important duties of this department were performed by Colonel D. B. Sacket and Major N. H. Davis to my entire satisfaction. They introduced many valuable changes in the system of inspections and in the forms of reports, and so systematized the labors of the inspectors of corps and divisions that excellent results were obtained. The intelligent and energetic performance of their duties by these officers enabled me to keep myself well informed of the condition of the troops and to correct evils promptly.


When I assumed command of the Army of the Potomac I foud Major J. G. Barnard, U. S. Engineers, subsequently brigadier-general of volunteers, occupying the position of chief engineer of that army. I continued him in the same office, and at once gave the necessary instructions for the completion of the defenses of the capital, and for the entire reorganization of the department. Under his direction the entire system of defenses was carried into execution. This was completed before the army departed for Fort Monroe, and is a sufficient evidence of the skill of the engineers and the diligent labor of the troops.

For some months after the organization of the Army of the Potomac was commenced there were no engineer troops with it. At length, however, three companies were assigned. Under the skillful management of Captain J. C. Duane, U. S. Engineers, these new companies rapidly became efficient, and, as will be seen, rendered most valuable service during the ensuing campaigns.

The number of engineer troops being entirely inadequate to the necessities of the army, an effort was made to partially remedy this defect by detailing the Fiftieth New York Volunteers, which contained many sailors and mechanics, as engineer troops. They were first placed under the immediate superintendence of Lieutenant Colonel B. S. Alexander, U. S. Engineers, by whom they were instructed in the duties of pontoniers, and became somewhat familiar with those of sappers and miners. Previous to the movement of the army for the Peninsula this brigade was placed under the command of Brigadier General D. P. Woodbury, major U. S. Engineers.

The labor of preparing the engineer and bridge trains devolved chiefly upon Captain Duane, who was instructed to procure the new model French bridge train, as I was satisfied that the India-rubber pontoon was entirely useless for the general purposes of a campaign.

The engineer department presented the following complete organization when the army moved for the Peninsula:

Brigadier General J. G. Barnard, chief engineer; First Lieutenant H. L. Abbot, Topographical Engineers, aide-de-camp. Brigade volunteer engineers, Brigadier-General Woodbury commanding; Fifteenth New York Volunteers, Colonel J. McLeod Murphy; Fiftieth New York Volunteers, Colonel C. B. Stuart. Battalion three companies U. S. Engineers, Captain J. C. Duane commanding; companies respectively commanded by First Lieuts. C. B. Reese, C. E. Cross, and O. E. Babcock, U. S. Engineers. The chief engineer was ably assisted in his duties by Lieutenant Colonel B. S. Alexander, and First Lieuts. C. B. Comstock, M. D. McAlester, and Merrill, U. S.

Page 24 OPERATIONS IN MD., N. VA., AND W. VA. Chapter XIV.