used by Sherman
's army almost exclusively.
In starting for Savannah
, he distributed his ponton trains among his four corps, giving to each about nine hundred feet of bridge material.
These pontons were suitably hinged to form a wagon
A canvas pontoon boat.
From a Photograph.|
body, in which was carried the canvas cover, anchor, chains, and a due proportion of other bridge materials.
This kind of bridge was used by the volunteer engineers of the Army of the Potomac.
I recall two such bridges.
One spanned the Rapidan
at Ely's Ford, and was crossed by the Second Corps the night of May 3, 1864, when it entered upon the Wilderness
The other was laid across the Po River
, by the Fiftieth New York Engineers, seven days afterwards, and over this Hancock
's Veterans crossed — those, at least, who survived the battle of that eventful Tuesday-before nightfall.
But all of the long
bridges, notably those crossing the Chickahominy
, the James
, the Appomattox
, which now come to my mind, were supported by wooden
boats of the French
These were thirty-one feet long, two feet six inches deep, five feet four inches wide at the top, and four feet at the bottom.
They tapered so little at the bows and sterns as to be nearly rectangular, and when afloat the gunwales were about horizontal, having little of the curve of the skiff.
The floor timbers of the bridge, known as Balks
, were twenty-five and one-half feet long, and four and one-half