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[232] built by successive pontoons — placing the boats in the bridge, one at a time. A portion was built by rafts — i. e., by building a long section separately and placing it in position when complete. The floor was covered with straw to prevent wear. Competent authorities characterized this structure as one of the most extensive known to military history.

On August 18th, after the army had crossed the river, dismantling was begun, the parts being placed in the pontoons, and, within five hours after the work was commenced, rafts of pontoons had been made up, and the whole was on the way to Hampton, near Aquia Creek, on the Potomac.

These troops rendered invaluable service at the battle of Antietam. The night before the conflict they made three of the fords of Antietam Creek possible for artillery, by cutting down the banks and paving the bottom, where it was soft, with large stones. After the battle, by request of its officers, the battalion was assigned to duty as infantry, and it supported one of the batteries in the advance, when the Federals moved away from the Antietam, several weeks later.

On December 11th, a bridge was thrown across the Rappahannock, under fire, at a point known as Franklin's Crossing. Troops embarked in pontoons and were ferried across. Then they stormed the Confederate rifle-pits on the river bank and held them until the passageway was completed. After the battle of Fredericksburg the pontoons were removed.

The following winter, in 1863, a reorganization took place, and the Corps of Topographical Engineers was merged into the Corps of Engineers.

During the Chancellorsville campaign, April and May, 1863, the battalion again constructed a bridge across the Rappahannock at Franklin's Crossing. The bridge train was massed about a mile from the river, in dense woods. At night the boats were carried by infantrymen to the river, without the Confederates being aware of the movement until the boats were actually in the water. Troops were ferried across in the

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