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:
Lieut. 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 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 intrenchments 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 Capt. 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 intrenchments 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 Capt. H. M. Dalrymple, First New York Volunteer Engineers, progressed rapidly during the week. The average detail has been 60 engineers 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 No. 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 No. 2, a lunette for four guns, is completed. Battery No. 3, an 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 No. 4, a redan for five guns, also completed. Battery No. 5, a redan for three guns, is completed. Battery No. 6, a square redoubt (forty yards to a face), commanding Kings-land road before and after turning to the northward, is completed for eight guns. Battery No. 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 No. 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 revetting 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. Maj. Gen. J. G. BARNARD,
Chief Engineer, Combined Armies, City Point, Va.