, while General Foster
should send from Hilton Head
siege guns for the reduction of Savannah
and also press his advance against the Charleston and Savannah railroad in the neighborhood of Coosawhatchie
The evacuation of Savannah
having been resolved upon, and it being impossible by means of the few steamboats and river craft at command to convey the garrison, artillery and requisite stores with convenience and safety to Screven
's ferry, orders were issued for the immediate construction of suitable pontoon bridges.
The line of retreat selected by the engineers and adopted upon the evacuation of the city, involved the location of a pontoon bridge extending from the foot of West Broad street to Hutchinson's Island
, a distance of about a thousand feet, a roadway across that island in the direction of Pennyworth Island
, a second pontoon bridge across the Middle
river, another roadway across Pennyworth Island
, and a third pontoon bridge across Back river
, the further end of which should rest upon the rice field on the Carolina
The route then followed the most substantial and direct rice dam running north, a canal being on one side and a marish rice field on the other.
This dam was just wide enough to permit the careful movement of field artillery and army wagons.
The plantation bridges along the line of march were to be strengthened to bear the passage of these heavy conveyances.
was placed in charge of the work, and executed the trust confided to him with energy and ability.
All available rice field flats were collected.
These were swung into position with the tide, lashed end to end by means of ropes and stringers running from boat to boat continuously the entire length of the bridge, and were kept in their places by car wheels—the only anchors which could be procured.1
Above the stringers was a flooring of plank obtained from the city wharves.
At eight o'clock on the evening of the 17th the first pontoon bridge, spanning the Savannah river
from the foot of West Broad street to Hutchinson's Island
, was completed, and by half-past 8 o'clock P. M. on Monday, the 19th, the remaining bridges were finished and the route was in readiness for the retreat of the Confederate
Heavy fogs and difficulties encountered in finding and concentrating the requisite number of flats caused some delay in the execution of this important work, but, in view of the character of the labor and the scarcity of