In a book of essays entitled The Richmond Campaign of 1862 (edited by Gary Gallagher) there appears a piece entitled McClellan and his engineers by William Miller. In his article Mr. Miller, buttressed by words of BG John G. Barnard, chief engineer for McClellan’s forces, raises some interesting charges against McClellan and his use of engineers during the campaign. Before we look at the validity of these charges it should be remembered that McClellan was the force behind the creation of the engineer branch and had selected Barnard to his prestigious position. Using his influence McClellan had increased the engineer forces available from about 100 to nearly 2000 that accompanied him to the peninsula. Charge 1 – That McClellan did not specifically order bridges built immediately upon arrival at the Chickahominy. While this may be true it did not reflect a lack of effort in this area. On May 20th units from two Federal corps forded the river. Of course support for these troops became a priority. Detachments of the 50th New York Engineers arrived at the river on May 22 and by dark on the 23rd two trestle bridges were complete. By night of the 27th the 50th, using an abandoned saw mill had the railroad bridge open for supply trains (the first crossed the night of the 27th). Nor were the engineers the only ones concerned about passage over the river. Also on May 27th BG Edwin Sumner began building two bridges without Engineer help. The 5th New Hampshire Infantry completed the Grapevine Bridge on the 29th and the 81st Pennsylvania completed the Lower trestle Bridge the same day. These are examples of pro-active commanders operating under the “implied task” principle. This allows commanders to assume responsibility for tasks needed to accomplish their objectives without direct guidance from their superiors. In this case realizing that Richmond (the objective) could not be reached without crossing the river these commanders opted to act on their own. These bridges allowed communication and logistical support for the troops across the river. That they existed was more important than who ordered them. Charge 2 McClellan’s actions in the period of 28-30 May were negligent for failure to seize New Bridge. Barnard saw that this bridge would be a key to the campaign because the topography made it more likely to be sustainable in poor weather. The Confederates also realized this and covered the bridge with artillery and troops on the heights overlooking their end. Barnard insists that “so far as engineering preparations were concerned the army could have been thrown over as early as the 28th.” While the enemy forces covering New Bridge made a frontal assault out of the question, Barnard pushed for an attack using the existing bridges to assault the Confederate position from the flanks. This view was shared by BG A. A. Humphreys who noted that an attempt on the heights “ought to have been made at once.” Yet McClellan concentrated his efforts on defensive positions and although he believed 11 bridges were required before offensive operations could begin did not order any built. Barnard wrote “General McClellan was not waiting for bridges but the bridges were waiting for General McClellan.” The opportunity passed when the rains came and the Confederates attacked the Union forces at Fair Oaks.