troops near Williamsburg wherever they might be visible. The communication of the gunboats to any point on shore visible from their decks and held by our forces was thus made certain. Lieutenant H. L. Johnson, acting signal officer, was ordered to the front with a detachment of six officers and their men, which had the day before been concentrated. This party started immediately.
By the time these arrangements were completed it was night. It was very dark, and rain still fell rapidly.
The signal detachments of the forces with Generals Sumner and Keyes, moving with the columns on the march to Williamsburg, acted during the march as scouts to reconnoiter and as aids to carry messages and reports. Their duties in this character were continued on the field of battle. The smoke, the mist, the heavy rain, and the dense woods rendered signaling impossible. Some of the officers were posted by the officers in charge of the detachments where they could use their telescopes, and whence they announced to the commanders near them, either by orderlies or in person, such movements of the enemy as they were able to see. Toward evening General McClellan arrived and went upon the field of battle on the right. Soon after his arrival, in reply to an inquiry made by him whether communication could be had with the gunboats expected to arrive at night, Lieutenant B. F. Fisher, acting signal officer, reported to him, and received his orders to establish the communication required. This was successfully accomplished upon the arrival of the vessels, thought the night was one very unfavorable for signaling. The shore station was about a mile inland from the river and close to the field of battle. The fact was communicated to the commanding general as soon as accomplished.
Lieutenant Fisher caused another signal station to be erected near one of the works on the battle-field, and made ready to call for and direct the fire the gunboats, should it be needed, at daylight.
The acting signal officers who assisted Lieutenant Fisher, and those on the gunboats, whose care and watchfulness contributed to the result, are entitled to equal credit. The names of these officers, and of others who deserve mention at this place, are given in my report of June 18, 1862. There is reason to believe that the knowledge of this communication was of some importance to the commanding general. At daylight the enemy had evacuated their works and were in retreat beyond Williamsburg. A signal station had been established at the mouth of Queen's Creek, from which various messages were sent until the store-ships, with supplies, began to arrive.
On the arrival of the chief signal officer on the morning of the 6th communication was opened from the gunboats to other stations well inland, and was kept open at the request of General W. F. Smith, whilst the troops moved forward to occupy Williamsburg and until
that village had been occupied in force. The fleet of transports with General Franklin's command was passing up the river to West Point as our troops were marching into the place. The headquarters of the army halted at Williamsburg some days, while the trains of the army were brought the almost impassable roads and the wounded of the battle were cared for. Fresh troops were pushed forward in pursuit of the enemy, while those which had suffered most in the engagement followed more slowly. The advance guard, under General Stoneman, pursued closely the retreating army. A party of three signal officers, with their men, accompanied this guard, and was actively employed watching the enemy and reporting their movements.
On the day following our arrival the chief signal officer was ordered