Engineers' Experience

Railroad Debris - (LOC) December 16th, 1864 (near Poplar Grove Church)
"Traveled all night and about daylight came to a halt near the bank of the Nottoway River, distant about 20 miles from camp...After taking some breakfast, we received orders to bridge the stream. This we did in a very short time, using eight boats. As soon as this was done the 5th Corps began crossing from the opposite side, they having been out tearing up the Weldon Railroad, etc. The Corps finished crossing just at dusk. We then took up the bridge and camped until 2 o'clock A,M, when we started back to the camp where we arrived at noon the same day." - Thomas James Owen, 50th New York Volunteer Engineers

Confederate Trenchs - (The Civl War Library and Museum) "The work had to be done at night, of course, as it was in close proximity to the soon as it was dark enough, a long cord was stretched all along our front, and on this cord at intervals of a few feet white bits of cotton cloth were tied to render the position of the cord visible. Picked men held the cord in their hands at intervals of fifteen or twenty feet...The cord was thus carried forward silently, the men crouching low to avoid the incessant skirmish fire of the enemy. Along the cord the infantry line was formed and went to work with a will getting themselves covered before daylight revealed their position to the enemy."
- Lieutenant Colonel W.W. Blackford, C.S.A

Chevaux-de-frise - (USAMI) "The main body of the regiment was engaged in manufacturing siege material, particularly chevaux-de-frise to be placed just over the crest of the parapet trench. These chevaux-de-frise were pine logs ten or twelve feet long..., along which at spaces of about a foot, holes were bored through at right angles...The logs were fastened together end to end with chains and then rolled down the slope in front of the parapet to arrest a sudden dash of the enemy, and they made an exceedingly awkward thing to cross, with a line of muskets firing from the crest of the bank."
- Lieutenant Colonel W.W. Blackford, C.S.A

Pontoon Bridge - (USAMI) "After the hard days labor we had accomplished, the prospect of a nights work in water up to the armpits was not pleasant to contemplate, but as soon as the men arrived they went at it with a will. Trees were chopped down, cut to the proper length and notched, some cutting, some rolling them to the water, while others is the water placed them in position and others found stone and filled the cribs to sink and hold them in their places... On and across these cribs were placed heavy logs and they in turn covered crosswise with smaller ones thus forming a corduroy road, high and dry above the water."
- Colonel Wesley Brainerd, 50th New York Volunteer Engineers

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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