Official Records of the Rebellion

Official Records of the Rebellion: Volume Eleven, Chapter 23, Part 1: Peninsular Campaign: Reports

The Document

No.2. Reports of Brig. Gen. John G. Barnard, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer of operations from May 23, 1861, to August 15, 1862.


The following officers of the Volunteer Engineer Brigade have been mentioned to me by their commander as particularly deserving of notice:

Lieut. Col. W. H. Pettes, Fiftieth New York, for constant and efficient attention to his duties.

Capt. (now Maj.) Ira Spaulding, Fiftieth New York, for unremitting and successful work in the construction of military bridges.

Capt. O. E. Hine, Fiftieth New York, for habitual good conduct and for maintaining Bottom’s Bridge under difficult circumstances.

Captains Beers, Ford, and Brainerd, for untiring energy and fidelity.

Maj. (now Lieut. Col.) James A. Magruder, Fifteenth New York, for energy and perseverance.

Capt. (now Maj.) E. C. Perry, for energy and perseverance.

Capt. W. A. Ketchum, Fifteenth New York, for energy and hard work in the construction of roads and bridges.

Lieut. (now Capt..) H. V. Slosson, Fifteenth New York, for good conduct throughout the campaign.

Lieut. T. M. Farrell, Fifteenth New York, for skill and perseverance.

Lieut. F. R. Hassler, aide-de-camp, Fifteenth New York, for constant energy and intelligence in the performance of his duties.

Capt. H. W. Bowers, assistant adjutant-general, for intelligence and perseverance in the discharge of his laborious duties.

Lieut. C. S. Webster, Fifteenth New York, died of disease contracted on the Chickahominy.

Lieut. H. C. Yates, Fiftieth New York, died from disease contracted in the trenches at Yorktown.

The services of Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander are so frequently alluded to, besides being exhibited in his own reports (see sub-reports Nos. 1 and 6), that it is hardly necessary to say that he sustained as a military engineer in the field the high professional character which he had previously acquired.

Capt. C. S. Stewart rendered valuable services at Yorktown, and at the battle of Williamsburg be discovered the unoccupied works on the enemy’s left, ascertained the existence of and reconnoitered the route by which they might. be gained, and by which Lieutenant Farquhar (who had accompanied him) led Hancock’s brigade. To him, therefore, the decided successes on that part of the field are in a great measure due. Afterwards, with the advance guard under General Stoneman, he was so unsparing of himself in his reconnaissances and reports of the character of the country, roads, &c., as to induce the sickness which compelled him to leave the field.

If I should have to mention any single individual as distinguished above any other in the army for unceasing toil and unsparing devotion it would be Capt. J. C. Duane. In the trenches at Yorktown, in the dangerous and laborious works in the swamps and floods of the [p.125] Chickahominy, he seemed to know no fatigue and to allow himself no repose. The pontoon bridge built by him over the Lower Chickahominy was one of the most extensive known to military history.

Lieuts. C. B. Comstock and M. D. McAlester rendered most gallant and valuable services in the siege works of Yorktown, and the latter had again an opportunity at the battle of Williamsburg of exhibiting his gallantry and rendering important aid to his commanding general.

On reaching the Chickahominy these two officers were with me at the first armed reconnaissance of Bottom’s Bridge, and the works for the téte-de-pont were laid out and executed by them. Lieutenant Comstock accompanied the advance under General Keyes until it took its first position near Savage Station. While the other engineer officers were mainly confined to specific works, a larger part of the duty of reconnaissances, particularly on the right bank of the Chickahominy, fell on these two, and under their immediate supervision the works described on that side were built, as subsequently at Harrison’s Landing they had charge of considerable portions of those lines. They both exhibited unwearying assiduity and great gallantry.

Lieut. W. E. Merrill has been mentioned as having been severely wounded on the 16th of April in an attack upon a portion of the enemy’s lines near Yorktown. He has been already brevetted for gallant conduct on that occasion.

Lieutenants Reese, Cross, and Babcock commanded the three companies constituting the Engineer Battalion under Capt. J. C. Duane, and though sometimes available for general reconnaissances, their duties were usually with their command. They vied with their chief in their unwearying assiduity and in their gallantry. Upon them as upon their immediate chief devolved much of the most exposed service in the laying out and executing the trenches and batteries before Yorktown.

An instance of great gallantry and magnanimity on the part of Lieutenant Babcock has been mentioned by me as occurring in my presence at the New Bridge on the morning of June 1. On the Chickahominy and subsequently their duties in construction of bridges, batteries, &c., were arduous and exposed.

Second Lieut. F. U. Farquhar rendered valuable services at the siege of Yorktown. He was one of the three engineer officers present at the battle of Williamsburg, accompanied Captain Stewart in his reconnaissances which discovered the enemy’s unoccupied redoubts, and led General Hancock’s brigade thereto. He was sent back to the commanding general in the evening with the colors captured. With the advance guard of General Stoneman, and subsequently in the various engineer works and duties on the right bank of the Chickahominy he was daring and indefatigable.

First Lieut. (now Capt.) H. L. Abbot, Topographical Engineers, was attached to my person throughout the campaign as an aide. His services were particularly noticeable during the siege of Yorktown by his valuable reconnaissances and by his skill in combining the information gained by others into maps of the works and of topography of the ground. During the march to the Chickahominy, and while the army was encamped on the river, his time was principally occupied in making up the map of the country, founded on the reconnaissances of the officers of both Engineer Corps and others, in which duty he was under the immediate direction of Brigadier-General Humphreys. His health, which had suffered from the miasma of the Potomac while serving on the defenses of Washington, was further impaired at [p.126] Yorktown and on the Chickahominy, and he was unable to bear much physical labor or exposure. After reaching the James River be was compelled to leave the army by an illness which prostrated him for two months, during which time, however, he superintended the preparation of the campaign maps.

First Lieut. N. J. Hall, Fifth Artillery (now colonel of the Seventh Michigan Volunteers), was assigned to duty with me as adjutant before Yorktown, and accompanied me in that capacity. Besides his services in this capacity, he executed valuable reconnaissances both at Yorktown and on the Chickahominy. During the march of the army to the James River he was employed by yourself as bearer of dispatches, &c., between the different corps.

<-BACK | UP | NEXT->

A.C.W. Home Page | A.C.W. Subject Index | A.C.W. Books | A.C.W. Links

How to cite this article

Official Records of the Rebellion: Volume Eleven, Chapter 23, Part 1: Peninsular Campaign: Reports, pp.124-126

web page Rickard, J (20 June 2006),

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us -  Subscribe in a reader - Join our Google Group - Cookies