War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0234 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII

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and of the naval plans and orders. In return, he communicated his own wishes (to which he had immediate response and his plans for the movement of the combined fleet and army.

Among other messages thus telegraphed was one from the generalis-chief, announcing his intention to move up the river that day the transports with the troops under General Franklin, and asking a convoy of war vessels; one relating to the reported embarkation of the enemy at a wharf beyond Williamsburg (which embarkation it was desired to prevent), and one to save the railroad bridge across the Pamunkey River, which the fleet proposed to destroy.

The reports from the fleet showed that the river was without obstruction as far as the White House, that the white flag was flying at several points on its banks and at West Point, and that no troops were there visible. The wharf beyond Williamsburg was reported as destroyed by fire and as yet burning. One or two large vessels were found on the stocks at West Point.

The signal stations on the right of the army, other than those above mentioned, were this day abandoned, and the parties were concentrated to accompany the advance of the army. Late in the afternoon the sound of cannon announced that the advance guard of the army had overtaken the enemy and commenced the battle of Williamsburg.


On the 5th of may headquarters of the Army of the Potomac were still at Camp Winfield Scott. The last arrangements were making for the movement of General Franklin's forces, which, sailing up the river and to land at West Point, would turn any position taken by the enemy lower down upon the Peninsula, and would also threaten the flank of their retreating columns.

The signal officers with this command, some time before detailed to it by order of the commanding general, had been distributed among the transports. Other signal officers of the fleet detachment were on the gunboats to accompany them. The services of these officers will have particular mention in relation to the battle at West Point.

The signal detachments of the left and center, in charge of Lieutenants Daniels and Fisher, acting signal officers, had moved forward with the advance of the columns to which they were attached.

The movement to Williamsburg encountered the gravest difficulties in miry roads, puddled by the footsteps and broken into ruts and great holes by the wheel-tracks of the retreating army. These roads led through. A heavy rain had been falling all day.

At general headquarters we had heard the sounds of a continued battle since daylight. About 3 p. m. officers of the staff arrived from the front. The chief signal officer was notified that the general commanding was about to go upon the field, and was instructed by him in person that communication was desired between

the army at Williams burg and the gunboats which were to be sent up from the fleet that night to act with it. He was directed to arrange officers for this communication. In obedience to these orders additional officers, carrying with them full written instructions as to the arrangements to be made, were sent to report to Lieutenant J. W. De Ford, Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps, and acting signal officer, on board the flagship.

Two signal officers were to be placed on each gunboat sent to take part in the action. Of these one was to land, if necessary, and join our