Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Engineers Report, Chase Farm, Lincoln, R. I.

Lt. General U. S. Grant


All Federal Forces

Brig. General M. Burbank


New England Brigade

Major D. Erickson

Commandant (acting)

U. S. Corps of Topographical Engineers

Honored Gentlemen;

I beg your most kind indulgences to make my activity report.

Topographical Engineers present at the reenactment:


Ian Mckay, Brigadier General of Engineers (by brevet);
--Captain Ray Germain;
--Captain Norbert Reicke (seconded to the 9th Mass. Art.);
--Lt. Greg Webster (seconded to the 9th Mass Art.);
--Corporal M. Grossman, (Pioneers, 25th Inf.);
--Lady Heidi Webster (seconded to the 9th Mass Art.);
--Lady Maryanne Germain (Civ. Artist);
--Lady M. Mathews (Purser and Teamster).

Upon orders sent to General McKay, from the U. S. Grant Headquarters, 
I departed the New London area in the fast dispatch schooner moored at 
Fort Trumbull, New London, CT. We reached the city of Providence, R. 
I. in good time and from there took a carriage to Lincoln, R. I. and 
from there on to the Chase Farm, arriving in the early afternoon. I 
found Captain Germain already there and set up. Together we set up 
the Engineering Field Office. Gen. Burbank came over to discuss the 
fortifications planned for the battlefield. He generously took me to 
the site and explained what he wanted to do with the materials which 
were available.

  Upon return to camp, I designated Captain Germain to supervise the 
construction to the gun emplacements and the field fortifications.   
Corporal Grossman arrived at the field office and I gave him his 
drawing packet.

  Lady Mathews departed to make arrangements with the family who had 
offered us refuge for the nights. When she returned, the Germains, 
Lady Mathews and myself enjoyed a sumptuous supper at a small Inn at 
the top of Breakneck Hill near the farm.

  On Saturday morning a work party of about 60 men was gathered to build 
the fortifications and gun emplacements.  Corporal Grossman came by to 
pick up some tools for the work ahead. I designated Captain Germain 
to make a copy of the battlefield and fortifications for the unit 
files. Lady Germain was asked to draw the Confederate Camp on the far 
hill.  I busied myself in constructing a model of a corduroy road from 
downed limbs under the trees near to the field office.  I was relieved 
of the task of battle narration because a professional speaker had 
been appointed by the Chase Farm to undertake those tasks.

  When the fortifications were finished, Corporal Grossman returned the 
borrowed tools, and Captain Germain showed me his rough sketch of 
fortifications for approval.   I approved the rough drawing.  Captain 
Germain and I spent most of the rest of the day; he finishing his 
drawing, and I working on the model.  Lady Mathews returned in the 
early evening and the Germains, Lady Mathews and I retired to the inn 
on the hill for a second sumptuous dinner, then back to the house in 

Sunday morning we were back in camp by 8:00 A.M. and began working on 
the model again.

On Saturday and Sunday Captain Germain and I spent a 
good deal of time meeting and greeting the various spectators, 
answering their questions and telling them about the engineers, who 
they were, what their purpose was, and discussing the displays 
provided. Of all the displays , the caltrops were by far the most 
questioned item.  Lt. Webster and Lady Webster came over to the Field 
Office and spent some time there during a lull in the artillery 
drill / practice.  By midday the model of the corduroy road was 
finished and I had explained the use of that construction to several 

  After Sunday's skirmish the word was given to break camp, and the next 
hour was spent in packing the wagons.  The Germains, Lady Mathews, and 
I enjoyed a late afternoon meal at the Inn on the hill and made our 
way back to New London as we had come.

The weather was splendid over the weekend, if somewhat cool in the 
mornings. The Union HQ camp was on the edge of the bluff above the 
Chase Farm and the battlefield was marked out between the rising hill 
to the right and the great pond to the left. The Union camp was laid 
out along the access road to the far right of the upper fields. 
Between the Union camp and the battlefield was a rising mound which 
afforded a good view of the battlefield for the spectators.

Respectfully Submitted;

Your Servant

Ian McKay, Brigadier General of Engineers (by brevet);

Chief of Staff (acting)

Chief Engineer, 25th Corps

Lt. Gen. U. S. Grant's personal and military staffs


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