War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0249 Chapter XXIII. GENERAL REPORTS.

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burg road. The movements of the enemy's troops visible from this position, and some of them important, were reported to Lieutenant Beckett, acting signal officer with General Heintzelman. The station on the tree-top was rendered unpleasant by now and then musketry fire and occasional shots from the enemy's sharpshooters. In addition to the services rendered by reporting the location and movements of the enemy, the reports from this station caused to be stopped during the action the fire of one of our batteries which was persistently throwing its shells among our own men. The station was held until after the action had ceased. General Hooker had requested that this detachment should be returned to him each day while he held this position.


Early on the morning of June 26 a report received at headquarters, indicated Lieutenant Fisher, then at General Porter's headquarters, indicated that our heave batteries near there would not open on that day. At noon on this day it was first intimated to the signal officer that an attack by the enemy in force upon our right, on the north side of the Chickahominy and upon our depot at White House, was anticipated, and that a change of base to James River might be necessary. A telegram was instantly sent to General Casey, then commanding of White House, requesting that a staging for a signal station be raised at once upon the roof of the White House. Lieutenant W. W. Stryker, acting signal officer, was ordered to proceed from general headquarters to White House, and, assuming charge of the communications there, to arrange with the signal officers upon the gunboats for their prompt co-operation. Lieutenant Stryker left immediately for his station, some 20 miles distant.

By noon of the following day the communications had been arranged.

From this moment until the last of the evacuation the signal officers here (on shore and on shipboard) were actively on duty. To the perfect understanding thus had between our land and naval forces may be attributed in some degree the success of the complete evacuation of that depot in the face of an advancing enemy. Brigadier-General Stoneman, falling back past White House with his light brigade on his way to Yorktown, here arranged by signal messages to place his wearied infantry on the vessels, and requested that a signal officer accompany him on his march down the Peninsula. Lieutenant F. W. Owen, Thirty-eight New York Volunteers, acting signal officer, was detailed for that purpose. The last message sent announced the close approach of the enemy. A few moments later the fleet of transports got under way. The White House was sent on fire by some unknown person after the last officer and man connected with the Signal Corps had left it.


About 4 p. m. on the 26th of June a message from Lieutenant Fisher, acting signal officer, then at Hogan's house, north of the Chickahominy, announced that the enemy was moving down the north side of the Chickahominy; that there would be a battle at Mechanicsville, and that all the troops then on the north side had been ordered to be ready to cross to the south of the Chickahominy. Lieutenant Fisher was about to leave, with the officers collected from the different signal stations near him, for the point at which the battle was expected. Very soon after a message from General Reynolds announced that with the troops under