At midnight on the 9th of March, 1862, the order of the general commanding the army, directing the corps to take the field, was received at the signal camp of instruction.
At 1 a. m. on the 10th of March an order was received directing the field telegraphic train to be on the Little River turnpike, ready to move with the commanding general at daylight. This train had not been completed and was not ready for the field.
The camp was struck before daylight. On the evening of the 10th of March the different sections had either arrived at the points indicated in Special Orders, Numbers 41, or were so near those positions that the chiefs of sections had reported in person to the different generals. One section alone was prevented by impassable roads from reporting before daylight on the morning of the 11th. The headquarters of the signal corps were established on the night of the 10th at Fairfax Court-House, Va.
On the morning of the 11th information was received that the enemy had evacuated Manassas and were rapidly falling back towards the Rappahannock. On the morning of the 13th signal stations were established on the heights at Centreville and among the ruins, yet smoking, at Manassas. The advance station at Manassas, in charge of Lieutenant J. B. Ludwick, acting signal officer, was some miles beyond our pickets, and with no guard. These stations were held with some risk and much labor while the army lay at Fairfax Court-House.
An effort was made to connect Manassas Junction and Union Mills by a line of signals. The attempt failed because it was found that to do so would require more stations than officers could be spared to command.
In the reconnaissance made by signal officers of our army there was found a station occupied by the signal officers of the rebel army before and at the time of the first battle of Manassas. There is perhaps no country better formed by nature for the successful use of signal communication than on and near this battle-field. It was a subject of regretful remembrance that the Army of the United States had not secured for it in that battle such aid as signals might have given it.
On the 14th of March headquarters of the Army of the Potomac were established near Alexandria, Va. The detachments of the signal corps were quartered in that village.
While the army lay here the report of the battle of Winchester, fought by General Banks in the valley of the Shenandoah, was received. Mention of this battle is made in this report for the reason that the corps commanded by General Banks was at that time a part of the Army of the Potomac, and that the signal corps serving with him was a part of that originally formed for that army. Stations were established in this action on the right, the left, and the center of the line engaged, and also to the rear, communicating with the general commanding at Winchester. The full reports of Lieutenant W. W. Rowley, Twenty-eighth New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer, and his officers, clearly define the positions taken by them on that field and the services they rendered. Lieutenant Rowley has mentioned in his report the names of Lieuts. D. A. Taylor, Third New York Artillery, and acting signal officer; S. D. Byram, Sixteenth Indiana Volunteers, and acting signal officer; W. L. Larned, First Minnesota Volunteers, and acting signal officer; J. H. Spencer, First Minnesota Volunteers, and acting signal officer; J. H..