War of the Rebellion: Serial 005 Page 0073 Chapter XIV. GENERAL REPORTS.

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detachments of the acting signal corps which, serving in the various geographical departments, have carried the signal flag on so many fields in this war. The details for this purpose from the Army of the Potomac were as follows, viz:


Early in the month of October, 1861, the expedition of the combined land and naval forces, afterwards styled the "Port Royal Expedition," was contemplated. On the application of General Thomas W. Sherman, commanding the expedition, the Chief Signal Officer was ordered to detail signal officers to accompany it. A party of 7 signal officers, with 14 men, equipped, commanded by Lieutenant E. J. Keenan, Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, and acting signal officer, joined the expedition for duty a few days before it sailed from Annapolis. The brilliant success of this party, achieved by the gallantry and the labor of the officers and men composing it, contributed to the success of the expedition and to the advancement of the corps. The detachment of the signal corps now serving in South Carolina had hence its origin.

In December, 1861, in application was made by Major-General Buell, then commanding the Department of the Ohio, for a detail of signal officers to be sent to him. There was some vacillation about the movement of this party, the order to send and to retain it being for a time alternated. At last, however, a detachment of 5 officers and 10 men, equipped, was sent to General Buell. The signal party now commanded by Captain Jesse Merrill, Seventh Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, and acting signal officer, and serving with General Rosecrans in the Department of the Cumberland, took its origin from this detail. The difficulties encountered by this party, in the unfavorable character of the country, the situation and condition of the forces, the want of experience of the officers composing it, and the semi-official opposition of other officers, who knew nothing of its duties, have not been surpassed. That the corps through all its difficulties maintained its organization and has attained the position it now holds under General Rosecrans has proven some intrinsic value in its duties and much merit in the officers who organized and have composed it.

A few days before the sailing of the Burnside expedition for North Carolina there was received the application, made by General Burnside, for a signal party to be detailed to his army, and the order to make the detail. Three officers and 6 men, equipped, and commanded by Lieutenant Joseph Fricker, Eighth Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, and acting signal officer, reported at Annapolis to accompany this expedition. A class of 22 officers was there detailed and its instruction commenced. At this time there was in the hands of the signal officer, to supply the whole Army of the United States, the sum of $ 208,94. Such scanty equipment as could be gathered was hurried to this party as it was embarking from Annapolis. It accompanied the expedition. Twenty-five officers, with their men, were crowded in one small schooner. They were driven off the coast in the gale which so severely damaged the Burnside fleet, and among their earliest experiences in the service was that of a sea voyage of three weeks' duration from Fortress Monroe to Hatteras. Arriving at last at Hatteras, they were at once in action at Roanoke Island. The care with which the usefulness of this party was developed by General Burnside was repaid by their services in every engagement in his department. They originated the detachment of the signal corps now in North Carolina.