movement of these troops was visible by many of our officers at Hogan's house and excited comments by its steadiness. The fire continued heavily long after night-fall, and when it ceased both armies only rested for the struggle of the following day.
THE BATTLE OF FAIR OAKS.
On the evening of the 31st of May the chief signal officer was informed at headquarters of the result of that day's battle. It was known in the night that General Sumner had succeeded in crossing the Chickahominy with his corps, that the progress of the enemy was checked and that there would be a battle in the morning. It was announced in the evening as the plan that the corps of Franklin and Porter would cross in three bridges near New Bridge at daylight, the crossing to be covered by the fire of numerous batteries posted on the first rising grounds north of the river. This would bring a force on the flank of the enemy, engaging with his front our troops near Fair Oaks. It was reported, also, that there was trouble at the crossing of Bottom's Bridge, the bridges being crowded with wagons and troops. A signal party was ordered down in the night to render assistance, if it should be required, by transmitting orders from one side of the river to the other. There was no occasion for the services of this party. All officers and men of the signal party fit for duty were ordered to be ready to move from camp before daylight.
All daylight the next morning the whole army was under arms. The signal party was moved to near New Bridge, and parties were arranged to accompany the columns to cross as follows, viz: Four officers with their men reported to the commander of each column; two were to cross at each bridge with the troops and two to remain with the batteries detailed to cover that column. Of the officers crossing at each bridge with the first troops one was to carry the white the other the red signal flag. The white flag was to transmit messages relating to the general service; the red was to be used to direct the fire of the artillery. The communicating officers stationed at the battery were similarly equipped as to their flags and had similar instructions.
Orders were sent to the station near Mechanicsville to carefully watch every movement of the enemy in that direction, and to report by the line of field telegraph to general headquarters each half hour. There were two balloons fastened and floating in the air some hundred feet from the ground. One of these was near Mechanicsville, the other close to Gaines' house. An officer was sent to each of these, with directions to ascend; the one near Mechanicsville to report by signals from the car of the balloon to a point near headquarters any information he might gain; the other, at Gaines' house, to attempt to open communication from the car with any signal officer serving with the left whose attention he could call or with any signal officer after our troops should advance and have crossed the river. These ascensions were made as ordered, but without results. Very little could be seen from the balloon near Mechanicsville; there was no reply from the left to the signals made from the car of that near Gaines' house.
The scene near New Bridge after daylight was one of interest. The morning was clear and still; the sun shone brightly after the rain which had fallen in the night; there were everywhere bodies of troops ready to cross, and batteries of cannon from their chosen position covered almost every point of the opposite slope. At the bridges working parties were working busily. now then shots were exchanged across