Bridge-and three bridges nearly completed; one at, one above, and one below the location of New Bridge. The open country mentioned as in front of the left wing reached to the bridges at New Bridge, and here were large fields on both the north and south sides of the Chickahominy.
The corps of Generals Heintzelman and Keyes occupied the southern side of the river. The northern side was held by the corps of Generals Sumner, Hooker, and Franklin.
The signal party serving on the south side of the river, under Lieutenant H. L. Johnson, Fifth Connecticut Volunteers, and acting signal officer, had been working faithfully under most disadvantageous circumstances. They were shut in everywhere by swamps and thick woods; there were no points from which they could communicate to advantage; the army was new; the generals did not know how to employ signal officers, and the officers had yet to gain by service experience as to the best modes in which to employ themselves. There were, however, signal stations along the railroad, connecting General Heintzelman's headquarters at Savage Station with the front beyond Fair Oaks, and the officers had reconnoitered faithfully, but with little success, along the picket line for points of observation.
On the northern side of the Chickahominy the field telegraph line was extended along fences and in trees from general headquarters to near Mechanicsville. The soldiers had ceased to cut the wires, patrols had been established, and the line was working successfully and with little interruption.
There was a station of observation near Mechanicsville, and the station near Hogan's house, above New Bridge, which had been occupied from the time the advance of the army reached it. From this station could be seen the line of thick woods in which we knew the left of the army lay covered; but though it was scanned carefully every day, and often with glasses, no friendly soldier was visible
BATTLE OF SEVEN PINES.
On the 30th day of May was fought the battle of Seven Pines. This battle was fought in the rain and in a thick woods, and without any prearranged plans on the part of our forces. The left of the army resisted the furious attack of the enemy wherever and however they were able, fighting in the dark as it were, sometimes first knowing the presence of the foe by receiving his fire. With such circumstances and on such ground it was impossible for the signal officers to use signals, nor does it seem from their reports that they acted as reconnoitering officers, reporting by courier. Some of them joined the staffs of different generals and served gallantly enough as aides. The temptation for a signal officer to convert himself into an aide is always serious, the duties of the latter, as rendered in our service, requiring less care and much less trouble; for this reason, and to discourage the practice, no mention was made in my preliminary report of any services of signal officers at Steven Pines.
The fight raged furiously from about noon. From a signal station near Hogan's house the shells could be seen bursting in the air and the smoke rising above the tree-tops, while the sounds of the battle were distinctly audible. About 3 p. m. a brigade, forming, as it seemed, a part of the enemy's left, moved in line of battle, with skirmishers in front, across the open fields south of New Bridge, to join the action. A few guns were at the same time fired by a battery near them. The