Reports were required to be made three times each day and at midnight. The mist and smoke of the camps which overhung the valley often interfered with the regularity of the reports. There was, however, each day a general information as to the condition and movements of the enemy visible from the stations.
The signal party which had been serving with the left of the army here joined the main party. The different detachments serving with the Army of the Potomac were from this time concentrated in one party, from which details were made for duty at different points as they were required. Experience had show that a signal party serving with so large an army was most usefully managed when kept together, to be distributed at the order of the chief signal officer to those points where on any day their services might be required, the chief signal officer in his turn obtaining at headquarters such knowledge of the plans of our own army and the position of the enemy as would enable him to direct the details at the proper time to positions in which to take part in contemplated movements. Lieutenant Fisher, as senior officer, was placed in immediate charge of the party thus concentrated.
It was the prevailing opinion now that the battle of Richmond would be fought on the open grounds before mentioned, and which were now in our front, as we approached Old Tavern. Every preparation was made for the duties of the signal officers when the army should advance. It would be their place on the day of the attack to keep in communication the forces which would be co-operating on both sides of the river. The country in front was favorable. The sickness resulting from some months' exposure and hardship began to tell seriously on the strength of the signal party; but those who remained were well drilled, and waited with eager expectation.
Each day evidences of the enemy in our front grew stronger. On the south side of the Chickahominy picket firing was almost constant. It was stopped sometimes by agreement. On the extreme left there were numerous skirmishes, some of them of such magnitude as to be almost battles. Shells were very often thrown into our lines and were replied to by our artillery. in front of our right, stretching up the left bank of the Chickahominy, the enemy's earthworks grew more numerous and their artillery was heavier. One day they brought a 64-pounder rifled gun, of which they had placed one or two in battery, to bear upon the station at Hogan's, and fired deliberately at the officers, who steadily continued their signaling until ordered to cease. This station was made so frequently a target that it was ordered to be moved to the edge of the woods, where it was hidden from the view of the enemy, though in the range of their guns. With the same gun some shots were thrown at the station at Austin's, but failed to reach it. The shells from these guns were thrown far over our camps opposite to them on the north side of the Chickahominy. There were on our side no pieces of sufficient caliber to reply to them. A few days after some 4 1/2-inch rifled guns were received, and a day was set aside (the 25th of June) to try their range upon the batteries and the camps of the enemy.
ENGAGEMENT OF JUNE 25
On the 24th of June orders were received to so arrange for the next day signal parties as to be able to direct from the south side of the river the fire of heavy guns to open on the following day from positions near Hogan's house and also near Gaines' house. It was intended to silence the 64s before, and also to direct the fire upon an