War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0245 Chapter XXIII. GENERAL REPORTS.

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the river. It seemed as thought the moment of battle had come, but the bridges were not ready. I was whispered soon that they could not be finished in some hours; then not completely on that day, and later it was known that the crossing was impracticable. The heavy rains had had their effect. The stream had risen and was still rising. It had overspread its banks, the treacherous soil was saturated, and the bottom of the valley had become a morass.

While the troops of the right thus waited, we heard the road of the battle raging at Fair Oaks, and soon after came tidings of the defeat of the enemy.

The services of the signal party with the left in this battle were in character similar to those of the day before. They were aides, and carried many important messages.

The signal party at New Bridges were kept in the field all day, and bivouacked there at night on this and the following day, to be ready for their part in any movement that might be ordered.

On the 2nd of June the enemy had retreated to Richmond.

On the 3rd of June a party of signal officers, with their men, under Lieutenant Franklin Ellis, of Tammany Regiment, New York Volunteers, and acting signal officer, was ordered to pass our line and make a reconnaissance as far as James River, to ascertain the practicability of communication by signals between our army and the naval vessels then lying in the river. This party reached the river at Westover and there boarded a flag-of-truce boat. It then returned by way of Charles City Court House. Communication by signal was found to be impracticable. It was thought by the officers that messages might be sent by rockets or from the car of a balloon.


Up to the date of the battles of the Seven Pines and Fair Oaks, as has been mentioned, no portion of the left of the army had been visible from ground held by the right. The enemy had some guns on the heights near New Bridge and troops in the woods near Price's house. From the station near Hogan's house we could discern with glasses two guns and numbers of troops near James Garnett's House.

The result of the battles of May 31 and June 1 had not enabled the left to reach the open country in their front; they were yet hidden by the woods. From the time the construction of the bridges near New Bridge had commenced there had been, now and then, artillery firing between our batteries posted to cover them and the enemy's guns near Price's house.

After the battle of the Seven Pines the enemy seemed to increase their force at this point, earthworks began to be visible, and their artillery had better ranges. From this time for as long as the army remained before Richmond the defenses on the southern side of the Chickahominy grew more formidable. It was customary to fire on either side at any object that attracted attention, and sometimes it seemed only for practice. The signal station near Hogan's house was close to a battery of 20-pounders, and thus received its share of projectiles.

On the second of June an officer at this station observed with his telescope a number of men moving in a spot of cleared ground among the woods on the other side of the swamps of the Chickahominy, and beyond the enemy. They seemed to have just reached the place. They were about 3 miles distant, and wore our uniform. This, how