REPORT - ENGINEER BRIGADE
Report of Brig. Gen. Joseph Bailey, U.S. Army, commanding Engineer Brigade.
HEADQUARTERS ENGINEER BRIGADE,
ARMY AND DIVISION OF WEST MISSISSIPPI,
Mobile, Ala., April 28, 1865
MAJOR: I beg leave to submit the following report:
I assumed command of the Engineer Brigade, Army and division of West Mississippi, consisting of the Ninety-sixth U.S. Colored Infantry, Col. J.C. Cobb; Ninety-seventh U.S. Colored Infantry, Col. George D. Robinson, and First Company of Pontoniers, Capt. J.J. Smith, on March 16, at Navy Cove, Ala. I found the pontoon bridge in good condition and nearly complete in equipment; mules only were lacking. The command left Navy Cove March 26, landing at Starke's Landing, Ala., at which place it was thenceforward stationed until the capitulation of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely. Starke's Landing was made the base of the army. All supplies were landed there, and all shipments of sick and wounded and of prisoners of war made from there, and it was made the business of the command to facilitate in every possible way the landing of supplies,&c., and their transmission to the army. The One hundred and sixty-first New York Regiment, Major Craig; 200 men from the Twenty-third Iowa, Captain ----- ---; 200 from the Ninety-fourth Illinois, Captain Howell, and various other detachments in infantry and cavalry were added to the command upon landing, with which the post was guarded and kept patrolled. Until wharves could be built the bridges were used as such, and proved indispensable, but six wharves from 300 to 500 feet in length were constructed in five days' time, and another repaired for the use of the sick and wounded. Besides this all supplies, ordnance, commissary, quartermaster's,&c., were handled, moved, and mostly loaded upon wagons by the command.
The roads from this point to the headquarters of the army were kept in repair by the brigade, and various other duties were performed incidental to such a command. No troops during this war have labored more severely or arduously, but those to whom most credit is due are the Ninety-sixth and Ninety-seventh U.S. Colored Engineer Regiments. Night and day without complaint those regiments worked, and it is difficult to comprehend how they endured through it. The regiments manifest very great care and ability in their organization and discipline. The officers of both, with two exceptions, now out of service, labored assiduously. Of none of them can I do other than speak in the highest terms. The One hundred and sixty-first New York Regiment deserves special mention for its energy and laborious exertions. I have to commend highly the organization known as the First Company of Pontoniers, Captain Smith commanding. Under Captain Smith and his officers, all of whom are thorough in their duties, the bridges are better handled and more qui ckly than I deem a regiment can do it.
To the officers of my staff, but to my aide-de-camp particularly, First Lieut. Washington Hill, Fourth Wisconsin Cavalry, I was indebted for a great deal of valuable and indispensable assistance.
I am, major, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Brigade.
Bvt. Maj. M.D. MCALESTER,
Chief Engineer, Army and Division of West Mississippi.
SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.
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