May 8th 64
Although there is no way in which to send this now, I can but get something ready for you when I have a chance, and run the risks of getting it through the blockade at some future day.
No mail has arrived since the 30th ???when I received none. None has left since the 4th or 5th that has got through, the Rebels having burned two boats bound down.
The River is now so low that our Gunboats are locked above the falls one mile from Alexandria and the River is blockaded below the City, at a place called Scraggy Point, by the Enemy who have gobbled one Gunboat there and burned another, together with the transports above mentioned. We are very short of forage for our horses, and today the troops were put on short rations by orders from Hd Quarters. Our stay is made compulsory here for the protection of the Gunboats and means have been adopted to float them over the falls by the use of a dam across the River. The position is this. There are two distinct rapids or falls about half a mile apart with a fall of water of about twelve or fourteen feet altogether.
The plan adopted seems to be, to dam upon the lower falls sufficiently high to float the Boats over the upper fall, collect them above the dam and there, by pulling out a sunken barge, open a sluice through the dam through which they are expected to pass over the lower fall or rapids- The movement was to commence last night and I suppose some of the Boats are now down. Their officers declare they can open the river as soon as they get down.
In the meantime a large force is kept at work building a fort near the town and our Brigade goes to work on it again today, having been there on Friday.
More sickness is breaking out in camp than we have had since the commencement of the Campaign. I am however, enjoying excellent health, and expect to remain in that condition, if constant watchfulness will do it.
On the next page I send a
rough plan of operations on the Red, how different from what was expected the "Great Expedition". The Blockade is some thirty miles down the river and is thus far effectual.
Note: The next page is a detailed hand-drawn map showing the river, gunboats, dam and rapids as well as the surrounding countryside.