across the river, were visible, and thence by a signal line communicated numerous reports to General Keyes' headquarters.
On the day of the passage of the Chickahominy a part of this detachment crossed with the first troops, and opening a station on the bluff near Burnt Chimneys and close to the picket line, placed that point in communication with General Keyes' headquarters, then at Old Tavern. This duty led to a remarkable collision. The advanced signal party was annoyed by the enemy's picket firing from a farm-house near them. The station would soon be untenable. The signal detachment was quietly mounted, and then, on the order of its commander, furiously charged the offending pickets, as the story ran, with telescopes. The panic-flight of the enemy evinced their dread of the novel armament.
The party carried, however, revolvers as well as field glasses.
From this date the detachment served with the advance of the forces on the southerly side of the Chickahominy, carrying their stations up to the from at Fair Oaks. The camp was located near the headquarters of Generals Heintzelman and Keyes.
While general headquarters were at White House the wire of the field telegraphic train was extended a distance of 3 miles, lying on the ground and hung on bushes by the sides of the road. Experiments were made in transmitting messages while the wire was in process of reeling out. They were successful, and attracted much attention by their novelty.
A line of four repeating signal stations was established from White House to General Stoneman's advance guard, a few miles distant. This line was well worked, and was used for official messages.
On the 19th of May headquarters were moved to Tunstall's Station, on the West Point and Richmond Railroad. As the army moved from White House the advance guard, under General Stoneman, pushed rapidly forward to Old Cold Harbor, and with its advance encountered a small force of the enemy's cavalry at Gaines' Mill, near New Bridge.
A detachment of signal officers accompanied this advance, joining the small party which had served with General Stoneman previously. With the column moving in the field these officers were found every-where in the advance and perched upon the roofs of the prominent dwellings. They sometimes anticipated the march of the advance guard. The distances over which they could work, however, were from the formation of the country, generally short, and a single message could go by courier almost as rapidly as by signals. The labor of so large a party seemed unnecessary, and the greater number was ordered by General Stoneman to discontinue, that officer retaining with his advance the there who had accompanied him from Williamsburg.
On the next day the advance guard reached the bands of the Chickahominy at New Bridge. Some scattered forces of the enemy and few guns, very leanly exposed, were visible on the crest of the hill on the Richmond side of the Chickahominy. On the northerly side, on the first elevated ground of the river bank, were the Hogan and the Gaines first elevated ground of the river bank, were the Hogan and the Gaines mansions. These houses were about three-guarders of a mile distant from each other. From a point near the Hogan house could be had an extensive view of the bottom lands bordering the river and of the country upon the opposite bank. A station of observation was established here under the direction of Lieutenant N. Daniels, acting signal officer, and was held for some days while outside of our pickets. This station afterward became one of much importance.
On May 22 headquarters were established near Cold Harbor. From general headquarters to the station in front near Hogan's house a line